Category: Behind the Scenes

Celebrating Preservation Week 2018

Why is preservation important?

In 2005 the first comprehensive national survey of the condition and preservation needs of the nation’s collections reported that U.S. institutions hold more than 4.8 billion items. Libraries alone hold 3 billion items (63 percent of the whole). Some 630 million items in collecting institutions require immediate attention and care. As natural disasters of recent years have taught us, these resources are in jeopardy should a disaster strike. Personal, family, and community collections are equally at risk (LOC).

Preserving library collections

In Special Collections and University Archives we have many dedicated librarians and archivists who help routinely preserve our collections through housing and arranging archival collections. This includes careful consideration and mitigation of key environmental risk factors such as light, pollutants, heat, and moisture. We are also fortunate to have the technical expertise and assistance of conservation technicians in the Beach Conservation Lab, who provide services in conservation, preservation and housing of paper-based collection materials in SCUA, and to all other units of the Library.

Take a behind the scenes look in the Beach Conservation Lab to see the important work being done to preserve UO’s collections.

An array of completed enclosures and spine repairs.

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Printed Waste

One of the most interesting aspects of working with special collections materials is the physical nature of the items themselves. Who owned them? How were they used? How were they made? This post primarily concerns the last question.

IMG_2569While cataloging a copy of an 1808 edition of Milton’s poems, I noticed something odd about the binding. On the marbled endpapers, underneath the decorative swirls and spots, there was printed text. The darker blue marbling had fully obscured many of the words, but in the gray or clear areas whole words and even phrases were visible.

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A Step Back in Time: Processing the University Archives Sound Recordings

Kristin Gustafson, Special Collections and University Archives Intern
Kristin Gustafson, Special Collections and University Archives Intern

Walking through the ironwork doors of the Knight Library to begin my internship at the Special Collections and University Archives department was like walking through a portal into the past. Part of this feeling was personal, I attended UO as an undergrad ten years ago, graduating with a BA in International Studies in 2008. While an undergrad I worked in the UO Libraries’ Access Services department and often spent several hours a day in Knight Library engaged in either work or study. While I stayed in Eugene after graduation, I had not been back to Knight Library more than a handful of times since tossing my cap in the air and hanging my diploma on the wall. However, my personal sense of nostalgia at being back on campus quickly deepened into a fuller appreciation of being a part the long, rich history of academic life on campus as I began working with the University Archives Sound Recordings Collection. Continue reading

Student Spotlight: Tom Beech

Tom Beech in the Special Collections and University Archives Processing Room
Tom Beech in the Special Collections and University Archives Processing Room

The Special Collections and University Archives could not function without the amazing student workers who assist the staff on a daily basis on numerous projects. Our Student Spotlight series highlights these students to showcase their outstanding work, academic interests, and some of their favorite collections in our repository.

Tom Beech
Major: Architecture
Year in School: 5th Year / Senior
Job in SCUA: LSA III / Processing Student

Tell us a little bit about what brought you to Special Collections and University Archives? What made you want to work here, as opposed to other places on campus?

I (luckily) ended up working Special Collections and University Archives completely by chance. Originally I had applied to work in the main library, as several of my friends were working there and really enjoyed it. What interested me the most about working at the library was being able to learn while I was working by reading a book’s synopsis when it was checked back in, or helping a student find research materials. However, when I submitted my application I was recommended to Special Collections and University Archives. I hadn’t really known what Special Collections and University Archives was, but after receiving a job offer I was extremely happy that things worked out the way they did. Working as a processing student has been one of my favorite jobs, and the best part is that it hardly seems like work at all. Where else can you read about spiritual communes, hold artifacts from the Hindenburg, and look at drawings by Le Corbusier all while working?

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Behind the Scenes: Student work on the Wayne Morse film collection

I am a delicate ribbon of film – misuse me and I disappoint thousands; cherish me, and I delight and instruct the world.”

~excerpt from The Film Prayer by Crawley Films Limited


Do you ever wonder what it might be like to work on one of our amazing collections? The UO Special Collections and University Archives is very lucky to have amazing student workers who have the opportunity to process some very interesting collections.  Over the past year Kit Becker worked diligently on the processing and preservation of the Wayne Morse film collection. Continue reading