Preservation Week: Health Pamphlet Rehousing Project Moves Forward with Support from the National Endowment for the Humanities

By Yungjin Shin, Collections Care Assistant

To celebrate Preservation Week, sponsored by the ALA’s Association of Library Collections and Technical Services, we would like to highlight our work with our Health Pamphlet Collection.

One of the major preservation projects at the Gladys Brooks Book and Paper Conservation Laboratory is the Health Pamphlet Rehousing Project, which is funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The Health Pamphlet Collection includes approximately 50,000 health-related pamphlets dating from the 19th to the early 20th century.

The current process involves multiple steps: pulling the pamphlet boxes from the stacks — cleaning the pamphlets and assessing them for future treatment — transferring the pamphlets to envelopes with custom fitted supports — updating the bibliographic information in the online catalog — building custom designed storage boxes — labeling the envelopes and boxes— rearranging as needed —and re-shelving to the new location.

Here is a behind-the-scenes video that shows the overall process, start to finish.


The project is currently scheduled to be completed in January 2018.

Preservation week

Celebrate Preservation Week, April 26–May 3, 2014

PreservationWeekIn 2010, the American Library Association (ALA) created Preservation Week to bring attention to the millions of items in collecting institutions that require care. Sponsored by the ALA’s Association of Library Collections and Services and partner organizations, it was designed to inspire the preservation of personal, family, and community collections of all kinds, as well as library, museum, and archive collections. The goal is also to raise awareness of the role libraries and other cultural institutions can play in providing ongoing preservation information.

What will you do to celebrate Preservation Week? Here are a few ideas.

1. Write a disaster plan for your institution, if it doesn’t have one already. If it doesn’t, you are not alone. According to a 2004 study, 78% of public libraries and 73% of academic libraries do not have an emergency plan or staff to carry it out. (Read more about it here.)

Get ahead of the game—here are some places to start:

2. Learn more about caring for your private collection materials.

Facsimile denture in custom-made clamshell box

Custom-made box for a facsimile of George’s Washington’s lower denture.

3. Make sure your collection materials are correctly housed. 

  • There are several posts about creating enclosures in our blog that you can peruse:

o Creating a box for a facsimile of George Washington’s lower denture.

o On re-housing our diploma collection.

o And be sure to check out our Item of the Month blog for May 2014, which features an introduction to enclosure basics.

  • A variety of custom enclosures are available from the following vendors:

o Archival Products (of particular note is the Academy folder, named after the New York Academy of Medicine)

o Talas

o Hollinger Metal Edge

4. Find a conservator. Of course, we don’t recommend undertaking conservation treatments unless you are a trained conservator. AIC (The American Institute for Conservation for Historic and Artistic Works) provides a searchable listing of conservation professionals working in specialties ranging from books and paper to objects and textiles. You can search by specialty or by zip code.

5. Attend a Preservation Week event. Click here for an event map and list of speakers.

Preservation week happens only once a year, but collections need constant care. We hope the above can help you get started, or serve as a reminder of the importance of preservation.

Read more about Preservation Week.