‘Preserving the Past for the Future’ Exhibit Showcases work of Preservation Lab

In January of 2012, the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County (PLCH) and the University of Cincinnati Libraries (UCL) began a long-term collaboration to provide conservation and preservation treatments in an equally-managed, staffed and equipped preservation lab located in UC’s Walter C. Langsam Library.

Employees from both PLCH and UCL work on the general circulating and rare/special collections of each institution. The division of labor for all work performed by the Preservation Lab is divided evenly between UCL and PLCH and is tracked using a weighted point system.

A new exhibit, “Preserving the Past for the Future,” showcases the work done by the Preservation Lab on some rare/special items from both PLCH and UCL. Items in the exhibit range from photo albums to bridge reports to scrapbooks. The exhibit demonstrates both before and after images of the treatment done to the objects and explains the process. The exhibit was curated by Jessica Ebert, conservation technician, and designed by Amanda Jackson, communications co-op design student. The online exhibit was created by Lisa Haitz, web developer.

Below is the exhibit in its entirety. The physical exhibit is currently on display on Langsam Library’s 5th floor lobby.

(to see additional items, scroll on the right)

Album of Photographs of John Robinson’s Ten Big Shows (PLCH)


Condition before treatment:

This early 20th century album documents John Robinson’s Circus, a company that toured the country for decades and had its winter headquarters in the Cincinnati suburb of Terrace Park. Though the album had already been digitized, many of the photographs had extremely distracting areas of discoloration. The dark regions found in some images were caused by a mysterious loss in the white photo paper causing the dark gray album pages to show through.


Our conservator lifted the mounted photographs from the album pages by softening the photo’s adhesive with solvents and carefully lifting with a microspatula. The photos were then backed with two layers of mulberry tissue adhered with methyl cellulose. Then they were placed back into the album with wheat starch paste.


The digitized Robinson album, which was digitized prior to treatment in the Lab, can be viewed online through the Public Library’s Virtual Library.


(to see additional items, scroll on the right)




*All treatments were performed by or under the supervision of a trained book and paper conservator.

**Photos taken by Jessica Ebert, Ashleigh Schieszer, Catarina Figueirinhas, and Chris Voynovich.

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