Bookworms love spines of books and hate anoxic environment

Its our experience that insects that damage books are mainly attacking spine. This is because the spine receives liberal amount of adhesive while book making.

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After eradicating all the various stages of insects thriving in the books, book conservators repair damaged and deteriorated bound materials. We treat them further so that readers/researchers can consult them without further damage. Artistic features of a book, such as decorative, structural and printing (if present) characteristics, are of great interest to bibliographers and social historians, and where possible, conservators at our lab seek to stabilize problems with minimal treatment in order to preserve these qualities.

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Treatment: Fumigation or Modified micro-environment

Problem of insects that damage books is generally sorted by fumigation. But the process of fumigation involves use of harmful chemicals that are bad for not only the people involved in the execution of the treatment and other staff, but also pollutes the environment. Since last few decades many alternative methods are being researched for efficacy against insects that eat books.
Among the alternative treatments like low temperature, high or low energy radiation treatment etc, Modified micro-environment with anoxia as the main curative component of the procedure, is extremely safe in addition to being effective.

All of the insect species that are known to damage books are  eradicated by storing the infested books in the isolated micro-environment for 8 days. All the various stages of the insects are taken care of.

The results of various studies done till now show that the time required to kill 100% of the insects varied among species and even among the developmental stages of a given species. For most insects tested, exposures of less than 72 hours were required to insure complete kill. Certain stages, such as eggs of cigarette beetles, may require up to 8-day exposures to insure complete kill.

Users of “the modified micro-environment” treatment will easily achieve and maintain the desired anoxic environment of less than 0.3% oxygen in a chamber if the proper tools and materials are used. This is because the enclosure will have a low oxygen leak rate when it is well made of oxygen-barrier film and the appropriate number of oxygen-absorbing packets as per the manufacturer’s labeled capacity is placed in it.

Author: namitajaspal
Namita Jaspal, with inherited skills of art and aesthetics and passion for science, opted to pursue post- graduation in ‘Conservation of Cultural Property’ after her graduation in Science from Delhi University in 1992. Four year intense training at National Museum Institute provided the right foundation to start a career in Conservation. She is currently practicing conservation consultancy for Heritage property including monuments and collections. She has been doing independent research in conservation techniques and procedures in Indian context. She is currently working on the conservation of wall-paintings of Sri Harmandir Sahib Ji (The Golden temple at Amritsar. The project is nearing completion and getting a lot of appreciation for the organized and ethical treatment it is providing. It is for the first time in the history of Sri Harmandir Sahib Ji (The Golden Temple) that wall painting conservation and preservation is being done in a scientific manner, keeping the codes of Ethics into consideration while decision making. Another project just completed is of the Conservation of Krishna Temple at Kishankot, Gurdaspur, Punjab. In her private Conservation Laboratory, she is not only providing onservation services, but also mentoring young aspiring conservators and archaeologists by the way of training and paid internships. She has been a guest lecturer at DIHRM (Delhi Institute of Heritage Research and Management). With all the updated knowledge database and innovative practical approaches relevant to the Indian conditions, she could successfully do curative and preservative treatment of very old textiles like a nine feet long flag from nineteenth century that is regarded as priceless memorabilia of second Dogra regiment at Chandi Mandir, and four hundred years old (seventeenth century) Chola Sahib Ji of Sixth Guru of Sikhs, Sri Hargobind Sahib Ji. Apart from this she has done conservation of Photograph collections, archival records, numerous paintings, manuscripts and other cultural objects. She is also involved in preparation of up-gradation proposals for museums and such organizations. Her expertise includes Conservation and preservation technologies and procedures for conservation of varied material like wall paintings, paper, photographs, textile, ceramics, stone, metal and archaeological objects.

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