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Category: Tools of the Trade

Although the front row was near empty, the room was packed

For Library Preservation Staff, Everything is Awesome

Posted by: Amelia Parks

On Friday, March 8th, staff from each division of the Preservation Directorate were invited onstage at Washington, D.C.’s comic convention, Awesome Con, to speak about their work at the Library as part of the convention’s Science Fair. This is their story.

A faded page of text with a dark dirty spot at left, with a bright color image of the same page at right.

Register Now: Inks & Skins

Posted by: Bobbi Hinton

Register to join us at the Library of Congress on September 13th from 10 am - 4 pm. Speakers will address the history of the Irish manuscripts, complementary research projects in which they are involved, and the results of the analytical techniques involved in the research. As Inks&Skins is a collaboration between heritage science and humanities, the importance of a visualization platform to share the results with humanities scholars will also be discussed.

Girl with dark hair and dark eyes smiles broadly, wearing a white t-shirt and black sweater with a small golden necklace.

Tracking Colors: Building a Pigment Reference Database

Posted by: Bobbi Hinton

My summer at the Library was spent capturing data from colored pigments in order to build a reference database. Using a high-tech portable FTIR instrument, I prepared samples and collected infrared readings from 50 pigments in the Library’s collection using three of the portable instrument’s attachments. I compiled 150 measurements in order to create the database’s foundation.

Katie Mullen and Katie Senn take a selfie in the Main Reading Room, Library of Congress

Collecting the world’s languages: A Junior Fellow’s Report from the Preservation Services Division

Posted by: K.F. Shovlin

How exactly does the coolest stuff in the world make its way from hundreds of countries all over the world into the hands of patrons of the largest library in the world? 2023 Junior Fellow Kathleen Senn describes her experience working in the Preservation Services Division on Inventory Review Protocols for International Collection Materials.

Close-up view of two hands carefully at work on an aged, yellowing manuscript with handwriting

Working at Scale: The Firehose of Data

Posted by: Aaron D. Chaletzky

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world with over 173 million cataloged items. For the past decade, digitization of this enormous collection has increased exponentially. The Preservation Services Division (PSD) is responsible for a huge portion of this effort, managing contracts for the digitization of millions of pages of books, newspapers, and microfilm frames each year. All of this imaging results in a lot of data, hundreds of millions of files, and this is how we manage that data.

Close-up view of two hands carefully at work on an aged, yellowing manuscript with handwriting

Pandemic-era Testing for a New Exhibit Takes a Highly Trained (and Masked!) Village

Posted by: Tana Villafana

Staff at the Library of Congress love to showcase the collections with the public. As exhibitions are being planned , the Conservation Division (CD) and Preservation Research and Testing Division (PRTD) have been collaborating to assess the items selected for display. As part of this process, staff in CD typically review every item in an exhibition to determine how to safely display it. This review includes evaluating possible treatments, the kinds of mounts or cradles for display, and various ways that lighting might affect the item.