Happy World Audiovisual Heritage Day!

Thursday, October 27th, 2016 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post by Amanda Mills, Liaison Librarian – Audio Visual and Music

This annual day (October 27th) is run by UNESCO to celebrate audiovisual heritage, and to raise awareness that this vulnerable material is in danger of being lost through neglect, decay, destruction, and lack of resourcing. World Audiovisual Heritage Day has a different theme every year, and 2016’s theme is ‘It’s your story – don’t lose it.’ This theme presents opportunities to showcase cultural material in the audiovisual collections, and we’ve found a couple of fascinating pieces to share with you.

The first recording is from a disc called ‘Social Credit in 3 minutes’ (spoken word by A.E. Willyams) and is a promotional 78rpm recording for the Social Credit Party, recorded in the 1950s (side B is the ‘Social Credit March’). The short excerpt is taken from the last part of the recording, and explains what social credit is.

Social credit in three minutes

‘Social Credit in 3 Minutes’. Hocken Sound Recordings: Rec-M 1104

The second recording is a 1958 45rpm disc ‘: A Maori love story’, told by Kenneth Melvin, on the Reed Records label. This short excerpt picks up the story where Hinemoa and Tutanekai become aware of each other.

Hinemoa and Tutanekai

‘Hinemoa and Tutanekai: A Maori love story’. Hocken Sound Recordings: Rec-S 318.

How much audiovisual material do you have to preserve?

Sticky Problems in the Archives

Monday, March 7th, 2016 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

 

Sellotape 4

Post researched and written by Debbie Gale, Arrangement and Description Archivist.

Since its introduction in the 1930s, sellotape has been popular for attaching and mending paper and other material.  It is a common sight in archives to see first-hand just how much harm this ‘quick fix’ can do in the long term.

This family heirloom below, the memoirs of Catherine Hester Ralfe dated 1896 (our reference 87-072), is testament to just how damaging the irreversible effects of sellotape can be:

Sellotape 1

As is apparent, rips and tears on the first page have been repaired with sticky tape and its lasting effects are neither successful nor aesthetic.  It is a perfect example of how the compounds comprising sellotape and paper have interacted with each other over time.

Sellotape is comprised of a clear film on top, called the carrier, which is traditionally cellophane. Cellophane is regenerated cellulose. The bottom layer, the sticky part, is traditionally rubber-based adhesive, made so that it bonds with what it touches when pressure is applied.

The rubber adhesive is a long polymer chain, just like the cellulose that makes up paper. Over time, as the paper and the adhesive stay stuck together the two types of polymers will begin to interact and attach to each other in a process called ‘cross-linking’.

As this process continues, the adhesive mass will yellow, get very sticky and oily, and more difficult to remove from the paper.  In this oily condition the adhesive mass can penetrate the paper entirely and move into adjacent sheets. This staining is almost always impossible to remove:

Sellotape 2

Later on the tape also becomes less effective as an adhesive and eventually the carrier falls off:

Sellotape 3

It is clear from the photocopy of these memoirs produced in the 1970s, that the sticky tape repair work had been undertaken before that time.  It is interesting to note just how the condition of the original memoirs has continued to deteriorate since then.  It was in a far better condition in the 1970s than it is in the present day.

Sellotape 5

However tempting it may be, don’t try repairs to your valuable family papers using sticky tape.  If you are interested in getting repair work undertaken by a qualified conservator, a list of contacts can be found in the Directory of New Zealand Conservators of Cultural Material

References:

Ergener, Sibel (2012) Sellotape: Why it’s bad to put on paper, and removal [online].[Accessed 10th February 2016].

Smith, Merrily A. et al. (1983) Pressure-Sensitive Tape and Techniques for its Removal from Paper [online].  [Accessed 11th February 2016]

Ouch! Acid Burns in the Archives

Friday, January 29th, 2016 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

We often see the effects of acidification of paper on archival collections. Here is a particularly graphic example found in an old school notebook from the papers of the economist Allan George Barnard Fisher (1895-1976).

ExerciseBook2

Inside cover and first page

ExerciseBook3

Inserted note has masked part of the first page and prevented acid migration

The cover of the volume is acidic board, and over the years the acid has migrated from the cover to the first page. A note inserted over part of the page has slowed the acid migration in that area, causing the paper underneath to be less damaged and lighter in colour. The subsequent pages in the volume have remained lighter.

From the late 19th century most paper was made from wood pulp. Wood pulp paper has what conservators call “inherent vice” and most will degrade over time becoming more brown and brittle. We now frequently see 20th century papers that are in much more discoloured and fragile condition compared to papers from the 19th century. Earlier papers were usually made from cotton fibres which do not age in the same way.

Acidification of paper happens when lignin (a fibrous component of wood) breaks down over time. As the lignin breaks down acids are produced that weaken the cellulose fibres of the paper, and make it yellow or brown and brittle. Like many chemical reactions, the acidification process is speeded up by heat, humidity and light. Leave a fresh newspaper outside in a sunny spot for a few days and see the effect of the sun, dew and daytime warmth for yourself!

Because of the almost universal use of wood pulp based papers across the world for much of the 20th century we are often presented with preservation conundrums like the A.G.B. Fisher volume pictured above. The staining could be removed by a professional conservator but the paper will remain weak and conservation treatment is expensive so we rarely have archives treated for this kind of damage. Our strategies for preserving paper are to improve storage conditions and reduce physical handling.

The conditions we store the collections in at the Hocken help slow the rate of deterioration. Air conditioning systems ensure the air in the storage areas remains at a constant temperature and humidity and dust is filtered from the air. Light is excluded by packaging in sturdy acid free folders and boxes, and lights are only turned on when staff need to work in the storage areas. The folders and boxes also provide physical protection to brittle paper, preventing bumps and tears caused by handling.

At home you can help slow the deterioration of your books and family papers by storing them out of direct sunlight, in a dry and clean place. Garages, sheds and basements are not good places for storing older historical material as they tend to be damp, dusty and light and temperature is uncontrolled.

Put historical papers and photos in clean new file folders and boxes. Don’t attempt repairs to tears with any kind of sticky tape, don’t have documents laminated as this causes irreversible damage.

Don’t put book cases directly against outside walls, leave a gap for air circulation between the book case and the wall or preferably put the book case against an internal wall.

The National Preservation Office at the National Library of NZ provides more detailed advice on the care of collections from their website.

https://natlib.govt.nz/collections/caring-for-your-collections/family-collections