The Portland Room is much more than a destination to research this region’s history, personal genealogies, rare books and archives, maps, or Portland newspapers. This unique set of resources is increasingly a destination for students and classroom groups of all ages to discover and be inspired.
Recently, we’ve been able to help the students and instructors from the Local Sprouts Cooperative, who made several visits to the Portland Room to study local history. The crew produced a story about the Ingraham House, and incorporated their findings- and one of their Portland Room adventures with maps, Capt. William Moulton Ingraham, and The Great Fire of 1866 into their latest Portland TV Show (video below), which is a set of short (often hilarious) films. The section called “Carriage House,” begins at the 22:50 mark. We all had a great time, and our Local Sprouts neighbors will surely be back to the Library for more !
Preservation of library materials extends the availability of our books, documents, and maps. Conservation work is part of daily life in the Portland Room, where the Library’s special collections and archives are based. In the past 4 years, we have restored an average of 100 items per year- right in the Portland Room- library materials which could not be handled before, due to their physical condition. Now these items are accessible to you, our patrons! As well, we are often called upon to answer questions about book and paper conservation- so bring your questions, too.
Among our projects has been a restoration of the art and artisanry books which had been in the old Portland Public Library (the Baxter Building). These books are in the Portland Room, and nearly all repaired!
Here (below) is a glimpse of how a book is rebound and recased, using archival materials and practices:
a book which has separated from its case, due to embrittlement, will require a rebinding of signatures (the pages) and a new case (the cover)
a careful process of realigning signatures and rebinding them, followed by creating new endpapers, and applying cotton mesh and headband ribbons
the new case under construction, with conservation-grade bookcloth to match the original- and a new spine-backing (at the center)
the old case is at left; the new case gets a “dry fit,” to make perfectly sure it meets the requirements of the newly-rebound textblock
now to the press, with wooden rods placed in the exterior hinges of the new case
et voilà! the restored book in its new case, with the original gold-tooled titling and spine labels grafted onto the book as the finishing touches.
An image from our Archives, taken on November 9, 1958. In the photograph, the Harold T. Andrews Post American Legion Drum & Bugle Corps greeting the destroyer U.S.S. Brownson at Portland Harbor, anticipating the commemoration of Veterans Day.
Image from Portland Press Herald Still Film Negative Collection, Portland Public Library Archives.