Phase Box

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The origin of the term 'phase box' is noted by Peter Water in his 1998 BPG Annual article about the phased conservation concept and program started by the Library of Congress in the 1970's:

"The term phased conservation was first introduced by the Conservation Office of the Library of Congress during the mid-seventies. Throughout this period the word phased was being used throughout the library—to phase in and out, a phased plan for this and that, phased managements strategies, and so forth.
....
One of the first collections responded to by our phased approach was the European Law collection consisting of thousands of volumes bound mostly in vellum and leather. Most were in such a dilapidated state that every morning one could move along the rows of volumes and sweep up fragments. This was a condition caused by neglect and physical wear-and-tear on the shelves. We eventually boxed this entire collection and made some attempt to estimate and record future treatments. The box design used became known as the phased box. These are not really boxes but wrapper cases which were designed to be used on dormant, rare and fragile collections only. Its utilitarian design is based on the traditional Japanese/Chinese wrapper cases where book volumes have Oriental stab-sewn bindings without stiff covers." [1]

Many libraries have adopted the use of phase boxes as a permanent housing solution, particularly for fragile or damaged items that will not be prioritized for conservation treatment because of their expected low use, duplicate status, the presence of a digital surrogate online, or other factors.

There are many different ways of making a phase box, with variations in the type of closure method, materials used, and construction. The terms ' four flap wrapper' or 'tuxedo wrapper' have sometimes been used interchangeably with 'phase box'.

Below are some links to tutorials for how to make different types of phase boxes.

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Written Instructions for Making Phase Boxes (Available Online)


A phase box made from one single piece of board, with a a tab and slot closure. It can be made from corrugated board, or 40-pt, 20-pt, or 10-pt board. Uppsala University Library has posted a video of the construction process on YouTube.
"The type we make is constructed from two pieces of gray/white board. The box is of a 4-flap design that lays out flat on a table when opened, in which state it assumes the shape of a cross." This design has a string and washer closure on the fore-edge of the box.
Made from two pieces of 20pt folder stock glued together, with a tab and slot closure.
Uses two pieces of folder stock, with an envelope style flap that tucks into the body of the box.
Has instructions for various types of phase boxes and a 'card box' (which is a four-flap style wrapper), including ones made from one piece of board, and others made from two pieces of board.
Includes instructions for two types of enclosures made from folder stock: a tuxedo box and a one-piece enclosure with corner flaps.
Images and instructions for making phase boxes to accommodate unusually shaped or wedge-shaped items.
Includes diagrams for four different styles of four-flap wrappers, as well as discussion about the merits and drawbacks of the various designs.
Includes instructions for a variety of wrappers, as well as many other types of enclosures. Has excellent diagrams and illustrations.

Video Instructions and Lectures


Instructions for how to make a four-flap wrapper from a single piece of board, with a tab and slot enclosure. Written instructions for the same structure were published in the Abbey Newsletter.
"In this 2005 lecture in the Brodsky Series, Hedi Kyle spoke about the development of preservation enclosures and innovative solutions for protecting the myriad of artifacts found in our memory institutions. Many of these enclosures were developed by Kyle herself and combine the stringent needs for safe "preservation environments" with playful origamic structures, something which has also made them very popular with book artists throughout the world. "

Instructions Available in Print Only (Not Available Online)


  • Kyle, Hedi. Library Materials Preservation Manual. Bronxville, New York: Nicholas T. Smith, 1983.

References


  1. Waters, Peter. 1998. "Phased Conservation." The Book and Paper Group Annual 17.
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