Sunday, August 14, 2011

British Library Conservation Studio

Our final visit was to the British Library Conservation Studio. Having already visited the British Library before, I was curious to learn more about what goes on in the Conservation Studio. Our guides were extremely knowledgeable and helpful as we learned about the environmental control and caring for items that come in, as well as learning about general wear and tear of books and precautions and prevention that can take place to save an item from severe damage. The Conservation Studio has an isolation room for items that need to be in “quarantine.” This means that any item that is a potential problem to other items is kept away in the isolation room until the item can be returned to its proper place.  The studio works on conserving, rather than restoring to minimize intervention on the item. In the studio, different teams work on different items; stamps, photos, books, maps, and parchment are a few of the items that are conserved. On our visit, a team was working on palm leaves that on which contained writings from India from the 13-14th centuries. The conservator makes detailed conservation records of before and after of items and uses retreat able processes on the item. After we saw some of the conservation work in action, we learned about placing gold leafing on a book spine. I personally, found this process fascinating, and seeing and touching the gold leaf was very interesting.
Overall, I enjoyed my time at the Conservation Studio. Although my interests do not lie in archives or conservation, I learned a great deal that would carry over into work at a public library in the care and keeping of items.

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