Set in Print: Mike Sgier

"Richie Tenebaum," linocut relief print, 2012 (based on Wes Anderson's "The Royal Tenebaums")

We are pleased to announce that Mike Sgier, Greenfield Library Circulation Assistant, is included in “Set in Print”, a group exhibit of traditional printmaking.

From the gallery website:

Traditional printmaking encompasses not only a wide variety of artistic expressions but is an umbrella for a wonderful range of technical approaches and materials.

Techniques under relief, intaglio, stencil, and planographic printing offer artists multiple avenues for which they can find their perfect fit, and sometimes even combining processes. As fascinating and beautiful are the practices of printmaking they tend to be a bit passed over as the digital processes dominate the contemporary landscape. Set in Print showcases some of the regions most talented artists dedicated to these time honored processes and their splendid original works of art.

FrameWorks Gallery — 2103 Walnut St., Philadelphia. Through August 31.

Making a Custom Book Cradle: My First Conservation Workshop

On May 16th I had the pleasure of attending my very first conservation workshop entitled Book Cradles for Reading Rooms and Exhibitions by the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) hosted at the Ewell Sale Library and Archives at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.  Renee Wolcott, Book Conservator and Mellon Fellow at CCAHA, led the demonstration with assistance from CCAHA’s Education Program Manager, Stephenie Schwartz Bailey.  There were 15 participants, including myself, from the tri-state area.

Ms. Wolcott began our morning with a slideshow explaining vulnerable book mechanics and a brief history of the book from medieval times to the present day. She explained how binding has changed throughout the centuries and how that has affected the aging of books. We then moved on to a discussion of the importance of book cradles, where to purchase them, which materials are best for rare books, and, lastly, how to construct them yourself.

Book cradles are an essential part of a library’s arsenal to maintain our precious collections. Rare books have a number of sensitivities that must be taken into consideration to assure the item is being handled and exhibited as safely as possible. Wolcott explained that a book is “happiest” when closed. They’re built closed, whether sewn or glued, and the opening and closing of them puts stress, even with the slightest use, on the spine. Over time, the spine can begin to break down. This is especially common in older volumes but is still prevalent in newer items. Sometimes, a book may have very stiff pages that require the use of a book strap to keep it flat. A book strap is a thin piece of plastic, generally made out of polyurethane or polyethylene, which can be wrapped around the text block to hold it open for viewing. Some books have glued spines, some have weak paper that can pull out from the spine, and some have weak joints. Book cradles assure that the right amount of support is given to the book to prevent further damage.

There are many commercial book cradles available for purchase. Unfortunately, not all of them are made from things that are good for your books. For approximately $500, you can purchase a beautiful mahogany book cradle from an Internet supplier. Even though it is visually appealing, it is not only high in price but wood can “off-gas”, meaning it will release chemicals and, in turn, potentially damage the item it’s supporting.  Do your research before purchasing book cradles! You’ll want to look for something that supports the entire book including the spine and is made of a material that will not break down over time or release harmful chemicals. Polyethylene and acrylic are great alternatives.

On a budget? You can make your own! How to construct your own is exactly what the workshop was about. With an inexpensive rag-based mat board, you can make custom book cradles for just about anything in your collection. Ms. Wolcott provided each participant with a piece of board, an x-acto knife, a ruler, triangle, scissors, archival double-sided tape, and a pencil. Each person was given a copy of the “Hardy Boys”, to work with.  You begin by finding the position in which the book can open without fighting back, its comfortable resting point. Then, draw the template based on how the book will be open. (See images below.) The entire process takes about 15 minutes between the measuring, cutting, and folding.  Just about anyone can build a cradle as long as you can hold a ruler and an x-acto knife! The process is primarily based on scoring the board and folding into either a mountain (up) or a valley (down) based on the shapes of your item and they way its spine needs to be supported.

Above diagrams from a handout provided by the CCAHA.


Ms. Wolcott and her assistant were very helpful, friendly, and open to all questions. The workshop was highly informative and a very pleasant experience. Please visit the CCAHA website for more information on workshops and seminars.

My template:

Template for my cradle.
This is the template I drew up based on the book they gave me. I was given the title page to display which is why the left side is so much higher than the right. The left page is not important to the viewer.

My cradle without book:

Finished cradle.
Side view of finished cradle.

My cradle with book:

Finished cradle displaying book.

The book pictured above is Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse, Greenfield Open Stacks 813 H463o 1997.


Interested in book conservation or restoration? Please take a look at the following titles in the Greenfield Library:

1. Basic Book Repair with Jane Greenfield [videorecording] written and directed by Mark Schaeffer; produced by Visual Education for the H.W. Wilson Company.

Greenfield Videotapes GV17

2. Bookbinding & Conservation by Hand: A Working Guide by Laura S. Young.

Greenfield Open Stacks 686.302 Y85b

3. Books, Their Care and Repair by Jane Greenfield

Greenfield Open Stacks 025.7 G837b

4. Simple Repair and Preservation Techniques for Collection Curators, Librarians and Archivists

Greenfield Open Stacks 025.84 G956sr 1981


UArts Libraries Work-Study Students are Honors Students

We are very pleased and proud to recognize Greenfield Library work-study students Sarah Gantt and Haylee Warner for their acceptance into the UArts Honors Program.

Our work-study students Sarah and Haylee are UArts Honors students.
Sarah Gantt (left) and Haylee Warner, UArts Libraries work-study employees and UArts Honors Program participants

Sarah is a sophomore painting major who worked in the library last year and was a great asset to our Fall 2012 Open House event, and Haylee is a freshman in the UArts School of Dance and is interested in how libraries and dance can interconnect. Sarah and Haylee happen to be excellent employees as well as excellent students. The honors program requires them to maintain a GPA of 3.75, do honors-enriched coursework, and provide community service. We think they’re up to the task.


My name is Kimberly Lesley and I will be your Access Services Librarian, delivering reference and circulation assistance at the Greenfield Library as well as instructional sessions held right in your classroom! That’s right folks, you don’t even have to come to the library to benefit from our fantastic services (although I highly recommend you do). Contact me for a reference consultation and I will show you how to conduct research and renew your library materials from the comfort of your own home. A stitch in time saves nine…come to the library to learn how to effectively and efficiently utilize the wealth of print and digital resources our library offers!

And to all the instructors out there in the School of Art, Core Studies and the graduate program in Studio Art, I will be your official library liaison. Email {} or call {x6280} any time you have questions about library services and resources, or arranging research instruction sessions. I look forward to working with you!
Diligenza Per La LunaA list of random things about me:

  • I did flying trapeze for a summer (library brownie points if you can find where this is posted online)
  • My favorite author is a fellow Hoosier you may have heard of- Kurt Vonnegut
  • I love to travel, especially by velo- I biked around the Netherlands, Belgium and France in August 2011
  • My favorite number is red (just checking to see if you’re still reading)

And some not so random things:

  • My MLS specialization is art librarianship
  • My BFA from Herron School of Art and Design is in photography and art history
  • Libraries where I have worked or interned:
    • Smithsonian American Art Museum/ National Portrait Gallery Library
    • South Louisiana Community College
    • Indiana University Wells Library (Instruction & Media and Reserves)
    • Indiana University Fine Arts Library
    • Indianapolis Museum of Art
    • IU Visual Resource Center
    • Seattle Public Library
    • Indianapolis Public Library

Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you in the library soon!ColumbiaThe images above are from one of my favorite resources, the Smithsonian Galaxy of Images database. Take a look!

Library staff news: Mike Sgier wins City Paper comics contest

A panel from Mike's winning comic. Courtesy of Mike Sgier Illustration.

We feel very proud of UArts Libraries staff member Mike Sgier (Greenfield Evening Circulation & Course Reserves) for winning the City Paper 2011 Comics Issue contest. A brief interview with Mike appeared along with the announcement of the winner. The contest judge remarked that “Mike Sgier’s monster strip was clearly the cream that rose to the top of the submission stack. This comic really shines, from the beautiful brush line work in his depiction of the old-school monsters to the melancholy mood of alienation many experience in the yuletide season.” You can see more of Mike’s work on his web site. Mike has an MFA in Visual Studies (to him it’s an MFA in illustration) and is hard at work on his career when he’s not providing excellent service in the Greenfield Library. Congratulations, Mike!