News and Events

Winter 2015  Preservation Newsletter

Conservation & Exhibit Services Blog

The Preservation Department announces the creation of a new blog and Facebook page for Conservation & Exhibition Services.  Both new social media outlets will offer a behind the scenes look at the work and activities of the Library’s conservation and exhibition support laboratories.  The blog will include a special series of posts, “Winchester Countdown,” that will give a preview of our new spaces and how those spaces will enhance our work on behalf of the Library, the use of its collections, and interactions with the campus community.

Preservation Department on the Move

The Preservation Department is preparing for their moves to 344 Winchester.  The use of the plural ‘moves’ refers to the fact that the department will move in two stages.  Starting July 6th the preservation administrative office, Preservation Services, Digital Preservation Services, and Conservation & Exhibit Services will move into a new custom designed facility adjacent to the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscripts’ technical services area, 344 Winchester.  The second move is scheduled to occur in December 2015 when Digital Reformatting & Microfilm Services joins the rest of the department at 344 Winchester. Read more here.

With the moves will come slight pauses in services.  We will be letting affected areas know about service interruptions well ahead of the periods and sending out reminders.  For the first set of moves in July, the following dates are important to keep in mind:


Last day to send for binding for FY15 is Friday, May 29

First day to send for binding in FY16 is Monday, July 13

General Collections

Last day to send general collections materials for conservation treatment or housing is Friday, May 29

Special Collections

All special collection materials for conservation treatment or housing will be returned to their collections by Monday, June 1

Digital Preservation Services

Save File

By Charlotte Abney Salomon, Ph.D student, History of Science & Medicine

Yale’s digital preservationists work to keep aging media readable

The writer Tony Geiss helped to create some of the most iconic children’s entertainment of the past thirty years, co-writing “An American Tail,” “The Land Before Time,” and thirty-six years of Sesame Street. During his career, he invented the Muppet monsters Abby Cadabby and the Honkers, co-created the segment Elmo’s World, and shared 22 Emmy awards for scriptwriting. Geiss died in 2011 at the age of 86. The executors of his estate also donated Geiss’s Apple Hard Disk 20SC, a twenty-five-year-old external hard drive about the size and shape of a cereal box containing several years’ worth of scripts, projects, and personal files from the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. The task of finding out what was on the drive and preserving it fell to Gabriela Redwine, Beinecke’s digital archivist. Tony Geiss’s hard drive is one of thousands of pieces of digital media found in the libraries at Yale, including documents, programs, video, music, and games created and stored as computer files. Read how the library is approaching this preservation challenge.

Department Annual Report

The Preservation Department’s 2013-14 annual report is now available here on the web site. 


Fall 2014 Preservation Newsletter

Stories on the conservation of ancient papyri from th Yale papyri collection and 'Preservation & Sustainability: a case study in HVAC management for library collections. 


Past News:

Traveling Scriptorium Blog reaches 10,000 visits milestone!

On April 11, 2013 visits to the Library’s Traveling Scriptorium topped 10,000. In addition to hitting this milestone, a recent blog post, authored by Paper and Photograph Conservator Marie-France Lemay, is featured as an external link on the Wikipedia entry for iron gall ink.

The Scriptorium’s blog on WordPress was created as a companion to a medieval manuscripts material culture kit. The kit and blog are the result of a partnership between the Library conservators and curators, and University faculty. Since its debut in the fall, the physical kit has been used in 6 class sessions, both graduate and undergraduate, and one Library-sponsored Study Break. While the kit is no real match for Chipotle burritos, a number of Silliman students expressed a genuine interest in the kit and promised to make a point of visiting the Beinecke Rare Book Library to look at the primary sources modeled in the Scriptorium or other materials of interest to them!


Chief Conservator to Give Talk About Preserving Family Collections

On May 2, 2013, Chief Conservator Christine McCarthy will speak at the Bristol Historical Society in Bristol, Connecticut on preserving personal collections. Her talk will focus on the steps individuals can take to protect (and still enjoy) their unique and treasured family documents, photographs, scrapbooks, and others collectibles. Christine has previously given this talk for the Polish Genealogical Society, the New Haven Public Library, and the Meriden Public Library. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information about the event:


Preservation Librarian Assists Artists in Response to Hurricane Sandy

This past December, Preservation Services Librarian Tara Kennedy worked as the hotline manager and as a response volunteer with the American Institute for Conservation’s Collections Emergency Response Team (AIC-CERT). AIC-CERT is a group of conservators and other collections-related specialists who volunteer to respond to disasters affecting collections. This team of “rapid responders” has been trained in assessing damage, disaster response techniques, and health and safety protocol.

December was an especially busy month due to the arrival of Superstorm Sandy at the end of October. The disaster recovery need was so great in the New York City area that the Foundation for the American Institute for Conservation (FAIC) opened the Cultural Recovery Center (CRC) on December 10, and began providing services to its first artist on December 13. Kennedy assisted with initial examination and mold removal for works of art on paper during the early stages of the CRC’s opening.

For more information about AIC-CERT:

For more information about the Cultural Recovery Center:


Preservation Department digitizes important content regarding South Africa and Apartheid

The Manuscripts & Archives’ collection of 2,400 videotapes from the television program South Africa Now has been digitized. Because of its unique position operating just outside the control of the South African authorities, South Africa Now was able to capture a unique view and in doing so documented the cultural richness of the region. An enhanced online finding aid will be available December 2012 and will provide more detailed descriptions of the individual episodes. Streaming digital files of the episodes and file footage will be available to the research community in the Manuscripts and Archives reading room, and copies of the digital files can be made for long-distance researchers.

This project has allowed us to preserve the content of the tapes. The vast majority of the videotapes in this collection - ninety-six percent (96%) - are in formats that are becoming rapidly obsolete. Digital migration and preservation is the only approach presently available to safeguard this unique collection due to format obsolescence. Professional analog recorders are no longer manufactured and as time passes, there will be few, if any, experts who can repair those that still exist. This preservation effort has preserved an important period in South African history.

For more information on this project, please see


Recent flash flooding affects library collections; quick action minimizes damage

On Friday afternoon, August 10th, New Haven experienced tremendous rains - over 2 inches in 45 minutes. Combine that with it being high tide, and New Haven was quickly overwhelmed with flooded streets and parking garages due to overfilled storm drains. Unfortunately, the Yale Library was not spared.

Quick action and effective emergency preparation aided in preventing damage to the Library in terms of collections: approximately 300 books were sent to be vacuum freeze dried, which is a small number considering the number of libraries that were affected by the storms: Sterling Memorial, Bass, Divinity, Law, and the Beinecke. Those 300 books – being dried by Belfor, an international company that specializes in document recovery – have returned to the Library in less than three weeks with only minimal signs of water damage.

Emergency response is a collective, cooperative effort; without the collaborative efforts of Preservation, Custodial Services, Facilities, Risk Management, and the sharing of resources, these types of events could result in far more loss of library collections. Many thanks to all of those who helped out on that wet Friday!


Conservation Creates Teaching Tools for the Budding Medievalist: Traveling Scriptorium

Through a series of outreach projects and collaborations with curators, faculty, and other conservators on campus, Yale University Library’s Conservation Services, using its expertise in the areas of book history, materials and techniques, and scientific testing, has reintroduced itself to the campus and community as a partner in promoting teaching and enhancing learning through the study of objects. Reintroducing conservation as a discipline was an opportunity that culminated in the creation of the Library’s first material culture teaching kit, the Traveling Scriptorium.

In 2010, the Conservation Services team partnered with curator Kathryn James to seek funding to create a material culture kit based on medieval manuscripts. The kit was envisioned as a teaching tool and will be used in class sessions for library staff, undergraduate and graduate students, and others. The Scriptorium’s blog site provides the opportunity to collect audience responses, while also acting as a forum for information, further resources, and an introduction to the kit itself.

The project team solicited input from and worked closely with Yale’s English Department faculty to develop something that would enhance their teaching and use of collections. Each user of the kit can approach integration into learning, teaching, and course curriculums in different ways. Faculty advisors for the project were excited to use the kit in their classrooms, but still wanted the option to visit the lab with their students to explore the kit with the Library’s conservators.

The Traveling Scriptorium provides samples sets and didactic panels related to medieval inks and pigments. The kit includes examples of many raw materials used to create inks such as oak galls, plant matter, minerals, and insects. There is also a guide with historical ink and pigment recipes. The kit also includes binding models that are supported by a series of didactic panels that focus more specifically on the characteristic features of the bindings such as sewing structure (supports and patterns), boards (material used, shaping and lacing channels), and covering materials (leather, parchment, tanning, and toning of covering material).

For more information, please see our blog:


Globe Collection to be Preserved

Last September, The Yale University Library commissioned T.K. McClintock, a private conservator, to conduct a conservation condition assessment of the Map Department's globe collection. The work was done in coordination with Christine McCarthy, Chief Conservator, George Miles, Curator of Western Americana for the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and Abe Parrish, Director of the Map Department. The Yale Daily News article can be found here:


Landmark Gift Establishes Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage at Yale University

Yale University President Richard C. Levin today [June 7, 2011] announced the creation of the Yale Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, funded by a gift of $25 million from Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin '78. The Institute, to be housed on Yale's West Campus, will unite the vast resources of the University's museum and library collections with the scientific and technological expertise of Yale's academic departments to advance conservation science and its practice around the world.


Fall 2012 Preservation Newsletter