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One of the challenges libraries with special collections face is how to protect and store the individual items in such a way that staff can shelve them and researchers can handle them while causing minimal wear and tear. A common solution is to box valuable items, but these are often not containers you can pick up at your local UPS store.

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In the basement of the John Hay Library, preservationist Erica Saladino spends much of her time making these boxes. The one at right houses a book that measures half an inch wide and about three quarters of an inch tall. Printed in 1980 at the Borrower's Press in Winterport, Maine, the book is a hand-colored, illustrated edition of Clement Clarke Moore's A Visit from St. Nicholas, more commonly known as 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. This one is number 178 of a numbered run of 300 and is part of the Harris Small Books Collection. The box, made of chipboard and paper-backed rayon cloth, measures three-and-a-half by five-and-three-quarters inches.

When she designs a container for an item in the Hay, Saladino says, "I think about it a lot. I make sketches and learn as much as I can about where it will be stored." She has designed covering for the Garibaldi Panorama, and a box for a monastic breviary from the fifteenth century.

"I feel as if I'm doing something worthwhile," she says. "I feel as if I'm preserving history."

 

Photo by Erik Gould. 





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