Today’s post is part of our continuing series of blog posts from the students in Honors Seminar 321V, Smelling Old Books: The Art & Science of Preserving Our Past. The students were asked to consider ways in which learning about heritage preservation has changed their attitude about any aspect of their relationship to the objects around them in their daily lives and habits.
One thing that I’ve learned in this class is that clothing needs to be refolded about every six months. In my family we have a white, Chinese silk dress that all the girls in my family have worn for their First Eucharist. It’s kept in a box in a closet. It probably hasn’t been touched in 9 years. So, I’ve learned that we need to take it out once in a while, air it out, and refold it, so that it will still be in its original form by the time our various children can wear it. If we don’t refold it, the creasing can damage the fabric and leave permanent creases.
I love sticky notes! In fact, I cover everything with them. I never thought sticky notes could be potentially damaging. That is until in class one day when Melissa mentioned an experience with her old college textbooks. She had put sticky notes in her textbooks years ago and had never removed them from the pages. Once she tried to take them out, the sticky notes left a residue mark on the pages. It makes sense because the sticky part of the note has glue in it. Now I am going to be more careful about where I put sticky notes and when I use them. I suppose I’ll have to start using sticky notes in moderation!
Before taking this class, I did not realize how eating in the library could affect the collections. I just assumed that as long as I was careful and didn’t spill anything directly on the books, it would be just fine. After we talked about pest control though, I saw things a little bit differently. Even if the food itself does not directly affect the collection, what it attracts does. Now I realize that spilling or leaving crumbs anywhere in the library can attract pests. These bugs can eat away at the paper or the bindings of the books. They can get smashed between the pages or leave other traces. They can even attract bigger pests who come to feed on them. While before this class, I probably wouldn’t have gone as far as to have pizza delivered to the library, I did still consume food and coffee in the library and not give a thought to it. Now I know that limiting where food and beverage is consumed has a purpose other than to just annoy me. Now that I know the damage I could have potentially caused, I will know how to prevent it in the future.