Monthly Archives: May 2016

Now Presenting – The Lead Team’s Flood Recovery Work

The Lead Team presented at the American Institute for Conservation’s 44th Annual Meeting and the Canadian Association for Conservation’s 42nd Annual Conference in Montreal, Quebec. At this conference they presented to an international community of specialized conservators. Their presentation, ‘Through Hell or High Water: Disaster Recovery Three Years After Alberta’s Floods’ provided an overview on the work they have completed in Alberta with disaster response assistance through conservation treatment and regaining intellectual control; and disaster preparedness assistance for ASA’s institutional members.


Lead Conservator, Emily Turgeon-Brunet, and former Lead Archivist, Amanda Oliver at Palais des Congres; photo credit: Erin Kraus

In addition to presenting, the Lead Conservator also had the opportunity to tour the vaults and labs of the Canadian Centre for Architecture, and attend networking events at both the Musée des Beaux Arts de Montreal and the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.

The Lead Team enjoyed listening to talks presented by conservators who completed disaster recovery of artifacts and historic sites for the 2009 Cologne archives collapse, the remediation of flood damaged bound material from the 1966 Florence flood, and the 2015 fire at Clandon Park. The conference also focused on risk assessment, tips for collection care and conservation material analysis.

The Lead Team Logo


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Writing on Paper

It is best to avoid writing on original records, but sometimes it must be done; for example, when numbering an unbound text block. If it is imperative that labeling or numbering must occur then a pencil should be used. The writing should be executed with a light hand and in a relatively small size, best applied in the lower margin or on the back of the record. Labeling should only occur on paper and never on records made of other materials, such as polyester, cellulose-based polymers, linen, or photographic emulsion.

Types of Pencil Leads Available

There are many types of pencils available, from 10B to 10H. Pencils labeled ‘B’, which stands for blackness, have a higher amount of graphite. They are softer making them more likely to smudge and embed into the fibres of the paper. This is problematic because it will be more difficult to erase the labels and notations in the future. Pencils labeled ‘H’, which stands for hardness, have a higher amount of clay and less graphite. They are harder making them less likely to smudge but more likely to indent the paper. Pencils labeled ‘F’ mean they can be sharpened to a fine point.

A simple test was performed using the lead range of 8B – 6H, and F to see how much they smudged and how well they erased.

Control: Staedtler Mars Lumograph Pencil Set, on unbuffered 100% cotton blotting paper, no sizing agent*.


Photo Credit: Emily Turgeon-Brunet

With visual analysis, it was found that 2H, 3H and F had the best balance of smudge resistance, ability to erase, and less likely to indent the paper. If writing with a light hand, it is possible to avoid indenting the paper with marks made by H pencils. If writing on paper that has been created with sizing agents*, it is easier to erase the marks made by B pencils.

*Size or sizing agent: Sizing agents are solutions that are applied to paper during or after the papermaking process to impart useful characteristics to the paper. They can make the paper more water resistant, increase its flexibility and smoothness, decrease the susceptibility for creasing, and inhibit the feathering of the ink from writing instruments.The Lead Team Logo

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