Monthly Archives: March 2016

Sticky Situation: Introduction to Adhesives and Glue

What is glue?

Glue is a sticky all-natural product created by boiling parts of animals to make a brown, translucent, and viscous substance. Protein colloids is extracted from the skin and bones of animals through a boiling process that causes hydrolysis to the collagen. Rabbit-skin glue and Russian Sturgeon glue (Isinglass) is still used today by paintings conservators and gilders.

Mucilage, created by plants, can also be boiled to create a sticky product. Mucilage is used by plants to assist with the storage of water and food, seed germination and to thicken cell membranes.


Photo credit: Boston Public Library

How do you know if glue is on your record?

The presence of glue exhibits physical traits such as penetrating through paper. It is inflexible, hard, and shiny, with a brown tint. Typically it is found on items from the 1800s – 1950s, though it is still available today for purchase at art and hardware stores. Glue is often found on envelopes, framed items, and scrapbooks from 1950 and earlier.

What is adhesive?

Adhesive is a synthetic product. There are many different types, some of which include thermoset adhesives, thermoplastic adhesives, and pressure-sensitive adhesives, though there are many others. Not all adhesives are made equal. Some are chemically and physically stable, while others degrade quickly. When adhesives degrade they first become sticky and gooey, then they begin to lose their adhesive properties and harden, finally they harden completely and the paper will often detach.


Photo credit: Plaisanter

How do you know if adhesive is on your record?

If the record has pressure sensitive tape, is framed or matted, and is from 1960 or later, it is likely that there is adhesive present. Adhesive is hard and shiny, can cause yellow or brown staining, and may cause the paper to appear translucent. Many adhesives cause paper fibres to weaken leading to tearing and loss of media. It is recommended to have a paper conservator treat the item to remove as much adhesive as possible, and to improve the stability and aesthetic of the record.
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These are a few of our favourite things…

Are you interested in disaster preparedness resources and tools? Are you writing a disaster plan or perhaps updating your institution’s disaster plan? Are you looking for some resources to help you prepare for a disaster? Here are a few of our favourite disaster preparedness resources and supplies!


Emergency Planning and Response for Libraries, Archives and Museums by Emma Dadson.

This book is a great introduction to emergency planning. It covers a range of topics, such as starting a plan, roles and responsibilities, incident control, salvage strategies and business continuity planning, among others. It also offers a variety of case studies to learn from.

An Ounce of Prevention: Integrated Disaster Planning for Archives, Libraries, and Record Centres by Joanna Wellheiser and Jude Scott.

This book is an extremely detailed resource on disaster preparedness and recovery. It discusses how to plan for a disaster and focuses on how to salvage collections if they are negatively affected. There are also lists of suppliers and service providers across Canada for disaster related supplies and restoration services.


Photo credit: Amanda Oliver

Disaster Kit Supplies

Absorene dirt erasers

These erasers work wonders on mould and soot. It is a great item to keep in your disaster kit in case of a mould outbreak or fire.

Waterproof notepads

Documentation is one of the most important parts of disaster recovery. Waterproof notepads are great to have on-hand in case of rain or moisture – he paper stays dry and your notes remain legible!

Absorbent socks

Absorbent socks are a great item to keep in your disaster kit. We previously wrote a blog post about them, and we still can’t get enough of them! They are perfect in the event of a small leak. Place the sock around the leak to prevent the water from spreading while you turn off the water source.

Online Resources

Salvage at a Glance by Betty Walsh:

This is a great resource that outlines how to handle water affected media. It discusses media types, priorities, handling precautions, packing methods and drying methods.

Emergency Management by the Northeast Document Conservation Center:,-biological-agents,-theft,-and-vandalism

The Northeast Document Conservation Centre’s website is an invaluable resource for all things conservation. In regards to disaster management, they offer detailed leaflets on disaster planning, including a worksheet for creating a plan, emergency management bibliography, salvage of books, paper, and photographs, integrated pest management, and freezing and drying records.

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