Lab Staff Share Their Favorite Tools During Preservation Week

By Holly Prochaska, Preservation Librarian and co-manager of the Preservation Lab 

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens? No, but these are a few of our favorite tools! To celebrate ALA’s Preservation Week 2021, opens a new windowthe Preservation Lab staff paused for a moment to reflect on their favorite tools of the trade. These favorites ranged from small hand tools to large equipment; tools that have multiple uses to equipment that does one thing incredibly efficiently. We hope you enjoy learning about some of our favorite things, and we wish you all a happy and healthy Preservation Week.  

Jessica Ebert, Conservation Technician and Photographic Documentation Specialist 

Favorite tool: Metal triangle  

I contemplated selecting something from my PhotoDoc arsenal of equipment (and I nearly did pick ourUVA lamp and UV target, opens a new windowbut I just had to go with my old standby, the wonderfully versatile and handy metal triangle. It’s the perfect tool for cutting, especially when you are trying to achieve a right angle or a 45-degree angle. It has become especially helpful while working from home, where I don’t have a board shear or even a tabletop paper cutter.  


Catarina Figueirinhas, Senior Conservation Technician 

Favorite tool: Casselli spatula 

While working on a treatment we use so many different tools and I like each one of them for their different purposes, so it was hard to decide on an ultimate favoritebut if I must pick one it is the Casselli spatulas. The Casselli spatulas come in varied sizes and shapes, but these two are my favorite because of their versatility. They are used for various purposes. For example, I use these spatulas for lifting a cloth on a book board, or the pastedown inside of a book, to remove adhesive on the spine of a book, or even to cut a folded piece of paper. 


Kasie Janssen, Senior Conservation Technician 

Favorite tool: Bone folder 

My favorite tool is a bone folder, or should I say a variety of bone folders, because one just is not enough. In my mind, the bone folder is the jack-of-all-trades in the conservation tool world, as they can be used to accomplish so many tasks, especially when you start to use bone folders that are various shapes and sizes. Some of my favorite uses are folding paper for bookblocks, applying mends to tears during treatment, scoring creases for boxes, and tearing paper to get a deckled edge.  


Holly Prochaska, Preservation Librarian, co-manager The Preservation Lab 

Favorite tool: Small lead weight 

My favorite tool is a small lead weight wrapped in colorful marbled paper. I primarily use it to help me keep track of labels waiting to be adhered to enclosures, such a simple and practical use made special by the object’s beauty and sentimental value. It came into my life in 2007 when retired conservation technician, Patrick Schmude, greeted me with my very own toolbox my first day as interim department head.  

Ashleigh Ferguson Schieszer, Rare Book and Paper Conservator, co-manager The Preservation Lab 


Favorite equipment: Book plough 

One of my favorite tools is the book plough. It’s a historic piece of equipment used to trim the edges of a textblock prior to decorating the edges with marbling or gilding. Using a back and forth cutting action, the knife is held by a screw press and trims off a small amount of paper. This technique creates an even and smooth surface to beautifully accept the decoration. 

Hyacinth Tucker, Bindery & Conservation Technician 

Favorite tool: Crimper 

Under normal circumstances, I make rather a lot of corrugated clamshell boxes over the course of an average week. That means a LOT of scored folds. I didn’t truly come to appreciate this magnificent piece of equipment until we started working from home, and I had to do all of the scoring for my corrugated clams by hand. It takes forever! The crimper makes the process so much smoother and faster. I’ll never take it for granted again, no matter how many times I hit my shin on the foot pedal.  

Chris Voynovich, Senior Conservation Technician 


Favorite equipment: Ultrasonic welder 

I love the ultrasonic welder not only because the way that it works blows my mind but also because it is so versatile and easy to work with. When creating custom mylar sleeves for the Althea Hurst scrapbook, for example, we creating mylar flaps with Holly-tex hinges, multiple image pages with each image encapsulated individually as well as stacked encapsulated flaps opening in sequence. We’ve found so many uses for this handy tool over the years.   


Want to learn more about Preservation and the Lab? Check out the Lab’s blog tomorrow for blog post where Lab staff talk about their favorite treatments or projects that they have worked on in the Lab. Then, make sure to tune into the Public Library’s Instagram (@cincylibrary) Thursday at noon for an Instagram Live event, where Catarina and Jessica are in the Lab showing off some behind-the-scenes preservation magic. Finally, check out the Lab’s YouTube channel on Friday for a new video upload.  

Follow the Preservation Lab on its blogInstagramYouTube, or on its Digital Collections