Summary of Key Findings
Prior to the survey, Library staff did not know the number of Pre-1801 books in the five collections. Based on survey results, Library staff now know that the five collections contain approximately 10,330 Pre-1801 books. To rehouse these books for storage at Ft. Meade, a total of 1,220 boxes of ten standard sizes would be required.
Surveyors classified books as having major damage usually as a result of one or more of the following problems:
- Detached or partially detached boards
- Extensive losses of the covering material, often accompanied by loss of spine adhesive caused by past insect infestations
- Spine split into two or more parts (rarely)
- Extreme warping of boards
The Canon, Roman, and Italy collections contain a significantly larger number of severely damaged books than other collections. This observation is not surprising because these three collections contain a higher number of older books (i.e., 16th and 17th century) than the other collections surveyed.
Library of Congress Conservation Division survey staff sampled a total of 1,103 Pre-1801 books from an estimated population of 10,330 Pre-1801 books in the five collections addressed. Common problems noted include detached or partially detached boards, torn inner and outer joints, cover material losses, and warped boards. Survey results indicate that 1,155 books — approximately 11%, in the five collections — have major damage. Survey staff further indicated that the damage will likely worsen if these books are served to patrons or handled extensively.
Therefore, these books warrant attention (i.e., stabilization or treatment). On a collection basis, books in the Canon and Roman collections, and to a lesser extent the Italy collection, are in most need of treatment in terms of number of severely damaged books. To re-house the collections for safe relocation to Ft. Meade, staff would need approximately 1,220 boxes of ten standard sizes.
This focused model project provided Library staff with much greater knowledge of five Law Library collections, their preservation and treatment needs, and what supplies will be necessary to carefully move the collections to the new Ft. Meade cool storage facility. The resulting data will be useful for many years to come as Conservation staff make decisions that will extend the life expectancy of Law Library collections.