Have fun with SC&A’s “Color Our Collections” coloring book

Wesleyan’s Special Collections & Archives is participating for the first time in the New York Academy of Medicine’s #ColorOurCollections coloring fest from February 5-9, 2018.  Download the Wesleyan coloring book, which features iconic campus architecture, such as Olin Memorial Library (above), archival collections, and illustrations from SC&A’s rare book collection. Send photos and scans of your … Read more

A sampler of E&ES students’ artists’ books

This fall, students from Helen Poulos’ Introduction to Environmental Studies (E&ES197) class viewed artists’ books about environmental issues in Special Collections & Archives with Rebecca McCallum and learned basic bookmaking techniques from Michaelle Biddle, librarians at Olin Library.  Some students chose to create artists’ book for their final projects, and these, as well as posters … Read more

Pick of the Week, Sept. 18: Learning to read Tamil numbers

Can you read the text on this page? Neither can I!  But it’s one of many foreign-language Bibles in our Special Collections that I’ve had to catalog.  Back in the early 19th century, the British Foreign and Bible Society was hard at work on its goal of translating the Bible into as many foreign languages … Read more

Neither snow, nor rain, nor gloom …

…nor a library closure due to noxious fumes will keep Special Collections & Archives from the preparations for the New England Archivists workshops on Friday (23rd) and meeting on Saturday (24th). Our apologies to the students, staff, faculty, and other researchers who planned to use SC&A holdings on Thursday.  We hope to be open our … Read more

Questions and answers: What is Special Collections and Archives all about?

What most people imagine when they hear “special collections”           What special collections is about … The focus of work in Special Collections and Archives is about service–reference service to the students and others who use the holdings.  The Wednesday before spring break we extended our service hours knowing that two classes … Read more

Shelf Prep I

This class album needs protection!

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.

These volumes will be safe from harm as long as we continue to treat them well

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.

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