Through our work at Special Collections & Archives, we student workers have become sensitive to the cause of preserving historical objects. All of us handle fragile objects nearly every shift, and through handling these objects we see firsthand the effects of afflictions such as “red rot” (where the leather binding of a book begins to rot and leave chestnut smudges everywhere), which can damage our collection and undermine our work.
Our library already has a department that specializes in restoring damaged books, namely the Preservation department. At Special Collections & Archives however, we focus on enclosing and protecting books in their current state. Each year, a small team of student workers attempts to protect as many objects as possible. This past year, three seniors—Anna Katten ’11, Jessica Levin ’11, and myself, Julius Berman ’11—have been charged with this task.
We call ourselves “Shelf Prep” and we take our work very seriously. After the jump, follow me down the hidden spiral staircase into the basement workroom where I will show you how this important Special Collections work gets done.