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> Whatever the original aims of the people setting up the list (Peter's,
> for instance), email democracy ensures that it will come to reflect the
> interests of the people who use the list.  This is a smaller group of
> people than the entire sum of readers. I, frankly, look to it as a
> possible source of assistance and information.  When one and a half
> persons are the  entire repair/conservation "team" for a collection of
> 1.5 million books no source of assistance can be overlooked.  My question
> for the list is how  do you (the other list readers) document what gets
> destroyed in the process  of recasing or rebinding older books (say 1850
> and earlier)?  Those of you  who are not benchworkers have as much a
> stake in the question as persons  responsible for maintenance of
> collections or as friends of books as do  benchfolk.  It seems to me that
> too much of the descriptive history centers  on decorative features
> instead of structural ones.  Sewing structure seems  the most obvious
> feature worthy of record to me, but one is not always able to record it
> in concise verbage.  Sewn up, sewn two up, sewn by a drunk in  advanced
> dementia? Dorothy Africa
> Harvard Law School Library

Here at Cornell, and in my private work, I do record the structural elements
of the original. One of the problems I can foresee here is what to record
when the binding is definitely NOT the original, say a 19th century
sheepskin binding with three skimpy recessed cords on a 16th century book.
One could record the current sewing pattern, look for additional sewing
holes, and try to extrapolate from there. I guess it comes down to a general
question of how far to go. Also if a book is not being pulled, even if not
the original binding does this become neccessary. What about "industrial"
bindings which became more and more common in the last century, and where
all these little things became more and more standardized. I guess at that
point the same thing happened to the more decorative components as well,
especially with stamped cloth case bindings. I know this is something Randy
Silverman is interested in and working on. This also brings us to the point
of how much time and effort to spend on items, especially non-rare
circulating books. Curators don't usually seem to care, most Pres. Admin.
types want the work done, binders think it's fun to look into. Then in terms
or private work, what does the customer want? THe AIC demands complete
documentation of everything....

As to this list, I agree with Dorothy. This is a democratic process. The
more involvement, the more views and interests get represented. I created
this list mostly because I wanted something to complement Walter Henry's
COol list, which is drifting into the preservation administration side of
things, by dealing with more hands on, total book arts related, things. If
conservation comes up, so what. It's all part of the field. I also like the
exchange of ideas, and think that people discussing current projects is a
wonderful idea.

Peter D. Verheyen
Rare Books Conservator
B-39 Olin Library
Cornell University Library
Ithaca, NY 14853
607 / 255-2484

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