Usually when people think of preservation work in archives and special collections, the first thing that comes to mind is crumbling old letters and ancient volumes, but the reality is that modern materials can pose even greater preservation challenges. The last 50 years has seen an explosion in the kinds of materials used in books and book arts: from the huge variety of plastics to experimental inks, dyes and paints; new photographic processes to unusual substrates like metal or concrete; books that include electronics to books that include dirt and seeds. It is clear that caring for modern books is not for the faint of heart!
A couple months ago, I attended a conference titled “Now! And Then? Preserving Modern and Contemporary Collections in Libraries and Archives“. It gave me a great excuse to pull together many of the modern items in our collections that pose particular preservation challenges. I’ve put together a photo montage of some of my favorites, click on an image to learn more about the item and its preservation concerns.
A number of these artist books have been explored in greater depth in other posts on this blog:
- Earth Clock and The/Rapist
- Your House is Mine
- Newton’s Principia and other works by Didier Mutel