The latest on real estate recordings and new technology from the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds in Lowell
Last week we discovered that six of our older record books that sat on the top shelves in the lower record hall annex had been damaged. Here’s what we think happened: That weekend, a cleaning crew was in the building stripping the floors of old wax and doing a thorough (and till now, quite rare) cleaning. While they were working in our Customer Service Office, we believe that some quantity of liquid, a mixture of floor stripping chemicals, water, old wax and dirt, poured through a hole that had been drilled in the 12 inch thick floor to allow for the passage of computer cabling. Underneath this hole were the soon to be damaged books. A few days later, a customer reported to us that some of our books were “stuck together.” We inspected and found that the liquid material had cascaded down and soaked the upper edges of the books at varying depths. The affected portions of the pages are stained a coffee color, although most of the text is still readable. Now, the pages have started to crinkle, opening up odd-sized spaces between the pages. We have good, legible computer images of the pages of these books (as well as microfilm of the same quality), so no information was lost. But what to do with the books? Fortunately, just down the road in Andover is one of the foremost document recovery facilities in the world, the Northeast Document Conservation Center. Today I visited there with one of our damaged books for a prognosis, a tour, and a discussion of the future of book-bound information. I’ll share that story when I write next on Thursday.
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