The Elephantine in the Stacks: Oversize Storage for Flat Materials
This housing was developed for The Constellation, an elephantine newspaper in the Serials and Government Publications Division at the Library of Congress. The Constellation measures 30 x 50 inches, opens to a width of nearly 5 feet, and is larger any of the map case drawers or shelves in Serials. The creation of a special housing was necessary to provide safe storage for The Constellation. As an added feature, the housing can be used to provide a short-term display stand for The Constellation. The housing was designed by Julie Biggs, Georgia Higley, Nancy Lev-Alexander, Jennifer Lewis, Jim Thurn, Simonette dela Torre, and Jamie J. Roberts. The housing was built by Jamie J. Roberts and Simonette dela Torre
Jamie J. Roberts
Library of Congress
Photographs: Jamie J. Roberts, unless noted otherwise
- modified four-flap/phase box enclosure
- stores vertically, foam base keeps it off the floor
- separates into two pieces
- polyester film pocket holds the newspaper in place
- re-configures into an easel for easy display
(Due to the challenges of photographing such a large item, all of these images are of a scale mock-up of the housing. Images of the complete, full-sized housing will follow).
Materials, Tools & Supplies
- Double walled Archival Corrugated Board
- Book Cloth
- Clear polyester film
- Double-sided tape
- PVA & Brushes
- Sewing Needle & Thread
- Webbing straps & Buckles
- Elephant Board
- Closed cell foam planks
- Electrical Grade Hot Glue Sticks & Hot Glue Gun
- measuring tape
- straight edge
- bone folders
The housing is essentially a very large phase/4-flap box made out of double walled corrugated board. I suggest looking at: Phased Box Construction or Designing a Book Wrapper for detailed instructions on building a phase/4-flap box.
What is different about this housing is that there are two separate pieces, the inner “easel” that the newspaper rests on and the vertical flaps that protect the item and turn into supports when unfolded, and the “jacket” which has flaps that wrap horizontally across the item to protect it during storage and transit.
Due to its size, we couldn’t use a single piece of board and had to cut separate flaps and backboards and piece the entire thing together by hand.
We used book cloth to join the separate flaps to the backboard, covering both the inner and outer joints of the hinge, leaving just enough space for the item to fit comfortably but also be held snugly in place (The jacket was constructed to snugly fit the inner easel). We also wrapped all of the exposed edges of board with book cloth to create edges that would wear well and still look tidy over time.
The easel flaps were determined the following way: the top flap is 2/3 the total height of the backboard and the bottom is 1/3 the total height. This proportion is very flexible, but keep in mind that the longer the top flap is the steeper the angle of display can be. The easel piece also has a clear polyester film pocket that holds the newspaper in place and prevents it from sliding off the board. We made this by trial and error, folding 4 mil clear polyester film on three sides and leaving enough overhang for it to be attached to the backboard with double sided tape.
The jacket is made to cover the closed easel head to tail, and is secured with two buckled straps of webbing. The webbing was adhered to the back of the jacket with electrical grade hot glue. The buckles were secured to the straps with hot glue and then sewn on for additional reinforcement.
We included carrying straps on our housing for several reasons. The division we made the housing for did not have an A-frame cart, which is what something this size really needs to be transported safely. It can be balanced in a flat- top cart but it’s not very supportive, plus the horizontally the housing is wider than several doorways in our conservation lab and probably other doors throughout the library.
The handles allow the item to be safely hand-carried. We spent a lot of time discussing handle placement and ultimately put the handles on the side of the housing instead of the top, since it would be difficult for many people to pick up and carry this item at almost shoulder level. We purposely put them on opposite ends of the housing to discourage people from trying to pick up and move the item on their own; it’s large, heavy, and two people are needed to safely open the housing or turn pages on the newspaper so it’s best to start any encounter by getting two people to move .
The carrying straps are also adhered to the back of the jacket with hot glue. To make the handle on top, the webbing was threaded through pre-cut slits in the outer linen hinge of the jacket and adjusted before the outer hinge was adhered. The buckles were again secured with hot glue and reinforced with sewing.
We didn’t want the housing sitting directly on the floor, so we created a base for it to rest on, which can also be used to anchor the easel when it’s propped open. Making the base was incredibly simple – precut foam planks reinforced with elephant board and assembled with hot glue. We wrapped the completed form in book cloth (adhered with PVA) to make it look finished and to match the housing. It’s important to note that the base does not hold the housing upright, it’s designed to lean against a wall or cabinet.
For more information please see the AIC STASH FLASH presentation about this housing at: http://prezi.com/-9dzntinn2y1/aic/