Library Preservation Meets Fate

26, July 2016
Cover of Fate Magazine from March 1954This cool cover on the March 1954 edition of Fate Magazine caught our assistant librarian's eye. Missouri Historical Society collections.

This is a library-preservation story. Really, it is. I promise. It’s also the chance to show off a really cool cover of an issue of Fate Magazine: True Stories of the Strange and the Unknown, a magazine first published in Evanston, Illinois, in 1948.

As you can see, the focus of the cover art for this March 1954 issue is the Piasa Bird in Alton, Illinois—“The Monster on the Rock,” as the article calls it. The magazine was bound poorly with another publication. As a result, our great cover was slowly tearing away from the binding. Also, newspaper clippings glued onto certain pages were transferring acid from the paper onto the next page. In one spot, an acidic outline of the clippings was transferring onto the cover page of the other title that was bound with the magazine, The Piasa, Or, The Devil Among The Indians.

Newspaper clippings about the Piasa BirdAcid transfer is a major preservation problem. Missouri Historical Society collections.

Here’s where the preservation stuff comes in. First, I took a very sharp scalpel and cut out my new favorite magazine issue, stopping any further damage to the cover. Then I put the issue in an acid-free sling and envelope. Problem number one was solved!

Problem number two was very simple to fix. For all the pages that had newspaper clippings glued to them, I cut an acid-free piece of paper to the proper size and placed it between each clipping page and the page next to it. This ensures that any acid transfer will be absorbed by the acid-free paper and not the facing page (or book cover!).

Newspaper clippings and The Piasa book coverAcid from the newspaper clippings even transferred to this orange book cover. Missouri Historical Society collections.

No one could erase the damage that had already occurred, but some basic preservation techniques have ensured that this great cover art and article can be used by our Library and Research Center patrons for years to come.

—Randall Blomquist, Assistant Librarian

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