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Preservation Week 2016

In case you haven’t heard, it’s Preservation Week! To celebrate the American Library Association’s (ALA) Preservation Week 2016 (April 24–30), here are some of the preservation-related activities we’ve been up to in the Carnegie Hall Archives.

As we continue our initiative to conserve and digitize a majority of Carnegie Hall’s historic collections, we’ve completed two collection assessments with conservators from the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) in Andover, Massachusetts.

Carnegie Hall’s program book collections provide a fascinating look at events that have taken place on all three stages of the Hall, dating back to 1891. In 2012, we began sending our collection of bound concert programs to NEDCC for disbinding, conservation treatment, and digital imaging. In order to get the most complete condition and cost estimates, Director of Book Conservation Mary Patrick Bogan and Associate Conservator Jessica Henze spent two days at Carnegie Hall in November 2014, surveying the programs from 1952 through 1987 (programs from 1891 to 1952 have already been conserved and digitized). They did an in-depth examination of 162 bound volumes and assessed their current condition. Treatment priorities were developed and cost estimates were prepared, along with a comprehensive condition report with the recommended treatments necessary for the preservation of the programs. Treatments include disbinding each volume, surface cleaning the pages, mending tears and folds, flattening, and rehousing the programs into archival folders and boxes. The programs will also be digitized in NEDCC’s imaging lab. When completed, this project will ensure these programs—the backbone of our legacy collections—are preserved for the future and ready to share through our upcoming online Digital Collections website.





 

This past March, Senior Conservator Suzanne Martin Gramly and Associate Conservator Victoria Bunting examined three collections of valuable architectural plans dating from 1889 to 1978. During their five-day visit, they carefully evaluated the drawings and gathered information needed to create a condition report and treatment estimate for the collections, including identifying the medium and support for each drawing, documenting the current condition, and recommending conservation treatment plans. The resulting condition reports and estimates are essential in order to apply for grants to carry out the conservation treatments and digitization for all of the architectural drawings.

The 45 drawings in the William B. Tuthill Collection (1889–1920), are the only existing original documentation of the Carnegie Hall building in 1891 and the work that Tuthill continued until 1920. The 242 drawings in the Kahn and Jacobs Collection (1947–1956) by architects Ely Jacques Kahn and Robert Allan Jacobs were the product of the first thorough architectural assessment of Carnegie Hall. They depict proposed renovations and redecorations to the building, some of which were never undertaken. Many of these drawings represent the firm’s attempt to faithfully recreate, floor by floor, Tuthill’s original drawings, which are no longer extant. The John J. McNamara Collection (1965–1978) of 123 drawings depict proposed renovations and partial rehabilitations made at Carnegie Hall between 1965 and 1978. Some drawings show the building’s storefront properties that still existed at that time, and others show rehabilitations in Carnegie Hall’s executive offices, backstage spaces, and certain public areas.





 

Conservation assessments are critical for the Archives because they provide necessary information about the extent and health of a collection, and provide documentation for grant applications and project updates.



Small scripts like this are available for organizations or individuals to use and develop
for their own needs on Carnegie Hall’s GitHub account.

 

At the Carnegie Hall Archives, we are also creating and using code to speed through activities related to preparing our digitized material for description and discovery. Archives staff wrote small programs, or “scripts,” which help complete computing processes like:

  • quality control on digitized materials (How big is this file? Does the filename abide by our naming conventions?)
  • matching performance data to files for cataloging (automating relationships between a person like Marian Anderson and a photo of her performing on stage)
  • reformatting the Hall’s published performance history data into a format for linked open data

These scripts benefit immensely from a wide community of archiving, preservation, and programming experts who share their code and troubleshooting techniques online. We are excited to participate in this community and improve through open collaboration and mutual exchange. We are excited to share our scripts with the archiving community, which can be found at github.com/CarnegieHall.