Oakland's Preservation Fair Features Expert Book and Paper Conservator

Article excerpt

Amy Baker Williams once made salads at a deli.

Now she mends dirty, old maps.

"I love it," said Williams, 29, a book and paper conservator for the University of Pittsburgh.

This weekend, Williams will be among 30 experts and vendors offering advice and supplies from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the 2011 Preservation Fair, to be held at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Oakland.

Fairgoers can take home advice and products to preserve and care for books, photos, paintings, letters and textiles. Experts will demonstrate preservation methods.

"We're going to have people demonstrating some of the cleaning and mending we do," Williams said.

Come prepared to be repaired

Preservation Fair attendees may take a diploma, photo, painting or piece of china and "we'll give them advice for treatment or repair," Williams said. "There will be a slew of people with different expertise."

Avoid using Scotch tape, for example, to repair old photos and other paper products, Williams said.

"When you stick it on the paper -- as it ages -- that gooey adhesive turns brown and migrates into the paper," she said. "What you can use is archival tape. It's actually like thin paper tissue with a more neutral adhesive that won't age and won't get all brown."

At a Pitt facility in Point Breeze, Williams cleans and repairs maps of the Pittsburgh area's old, underground coal mines as part of the Consol Energy Mine Map Preservation Project.

Some of the approximately 800 maps date to 1860. Some stretch 30 feet in length.

"You never know what you're going to find when you open the next map," said Williams, who worked at the Wexford Post Office Deli during the summers of 2000 to 2004. …