At the 2017 AIC Annual Meeting in Chicago, we, Katherine Kelly, Denise Stockman, and Alex Bero, gave an overview of the 2016-2017 developments in the BPG Wiki and sought feedback from an audience of about 60 interested members about how to move forward in 2017-2018. We want to thank the BPG Officers, who made certain that this discussion group had a place in a very busy schedule!
There have been a lot of changes to the BPG Wiki in the past year. We followed through on our promise to increase communication with the BPG membership, and this has led to much greater participation in return. We have a long list of contributors to thank, which we have included at the end of the post.
We undertook a reformatting campaign across the wiki. Standardization is crucial to allowing for the future growth of the Wiki, so we created a template to choose among the many variations of page design. We resolved many issues along the way, such as how to reduce numbering but differentiate between sections, how to include links and references, and how to thank new and old contributors without top-loading the page. The elimination of the original numbered outline format makes it much easier to grow and move information around.
All of the shared BPG pages and all of the Book Conservation pages have been updated in this way. For the pages derived from the original Paper Conservation Catalog, 10 pages have already been reformatted. We are looking for volunteers to re-format 16 other pages. See our Call for Reformatting on the Help Wanted Page.
The first contributors to the Wiki this year were the Tips presenters in Montreal, who shared images and PDFs from their 2016 presentations. This was a great way to quickly share new techniques. These contributions were available within a month of the Annual Meeting and are now gathered together with Tips from 2013 and 2014. (There were no Tips Sessions in 2015 or 2017.)
Alex Bero spoke about the activities of the Bibliographies subgroup. A recent priority has been to update the format of bibliographic entries of the wiki, in order to bring them into line with the JAIC Style guide, with a few modifications for the online format.
For 2017-2018, we intend to build a new Guide to Resources page with information on how to get resources that are not freely available online, and on resources that are underutilized.
If you have suggested improvements to any BPG Bibliography, please consider becoming a wiki editor or sending your citations or annotations to firstname.lastname@example.org, who will format them and post them on the wiki.
It has long been our goal to get more images on the Wiki pages. This year, progress was made on several pages, including the Fiber Identification page. Jennifer McGlinchey Sexton offered us the images she had created for CAMEO, the Conservation & Art Materials Encyclopedia Online, and Xiaoping Cai offered to add them to the Wiki. The result is a much more appealing and useful page.
Adhesives Recipes and Tips
The first call for content this year asked for contributions to Adhesive Recipes and Tips. This is a companion page to Adhesives for Paper, which offers a more in-depth and technical discussion of adhesive properties. With contributions from seven book and paper conservators, Adhesive Recipes and Tips now offers recipes for making methyl cellulose, Klucel G, funori, isinglass, and wheat starch paste in a variety of ways. There is also an annotated bibliography on remoistenable and pre-coated tissues.
Non-Western Bookbindings and Their Conservation
This year’s blockbuster success was a new page on Non-Western Bookbinding Structures and Their Conservation. This topic was identified as one that had very little coverage in the wiki, but that might interest many of conservators. Immediately after the Call for Content, this page took off, and in a month, ten conservators had contributed more than 130 citations on Armenian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Islamic, Palm-Leaf, Thai, and Tibetan manuscript and bookbinding traditions.
In addition to the benefits of many minds coming together to create good content, there were collaborations between well-established and emerging conservators. This type of collaboration can combine deep experience, the perspective of someone new the field, and wiki-editing skills – with excellent results.
Culturally Sensitive Treatment
One of the contributors for the Non-Western Bookbindings page, Marieka Kaye, from the University of Michigan, saw an opportunity for an offshoot page that focuses on the Culturally Sensitive Treatment of book and paper objects. The aim of this page is to discuss the conservation ethics involved in treating materials from a wide variety of cultures and help identify components of those artifacts that should not be lost during treatment. The page currently focuses on East Asian materials, but we hope to expand into other cultures.
Related AIC Wiki Pages
The BPG Wiki is part of the larger AIC Wiki. A long-term goal is to connect BPG pages to those in other Specialty Groups, and to contribute to pages of common interest. These efforts are in the early stages, but there are some good successes to report, including Conservation Supply Sources, Oddy Testing Results, History of Conservation, and the recent ECPN page on Gels, Thickeners, and Viscosity Modifiers.
Following the presentation, we asked the audience for feedback on how the Wiki should grow in the coming year.
There were discussions about the appropriateness of moving content around to allow certain topics to grow (for example, iron gall ink might benefit from having its own topic page), removing excessive information, updating out-of-date or inappropriate terminology, improving bibliographies with software like Zotero, and soliciting images.
There was also an enthusiastic debate about how the wiki should deal with outdated treatment techniques. The pages on Alkalization & Neutralization and Bleaching have several examples of treatments that, while accepted practice at the time of their writing, have fallen out of favor (e.g. Diethyl Zinc). It was agreed that outdated techniques should be indicated within the wiki. There was a suggestion from the audience that keeping information on the same topic page was better, ideally in a separate section for historical or superseded techniques. Another audience member stressed the importance of adding a date for when techniques were moved to that section (or when the technique was in common use).
Another audience member pointed out that treatments change and are updated all the time. She recommended a review cycle for pages (perhaps every 10 years) to review the content of a chapter and provide updates.
We are grateful for the thoughtful debate on these issues and feel that this year’s discussion group has provided excellent guidance and direction for the year ahead.
How You Can Help
If you have ideas about how you would like to get involved in the Wiki, please send the Wiki Coordinators an email. You can also look at the page called BPG Help Wanted, where we list topics in need of attention, recent Calls for Content, and ideas for future growth. Please also join the AIC-Wiki listserv as this is the main way that Wiki editors communicate among themselves.
Denise Stockman, Paper Conservation Wiki Coordinator, New York Public Library
Katherine Kelly, Book Conservation Wiki Coordinator, Library of Congress
Alex Bero, Wiki Bibliographies Team, New York University
2016-2017 BPG Wiki Contributors
Amélie Couvrat Desvergnes
Debora D. Mayer
Jennifer McGlinchey Sexton
Tina C. Tan
Yana van Dyke