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Conservation Laboratory

In the Conservation Laboratory, complex conservation treatments are performed on bound books and flat paper items from special collections.

Conservation treatments for rare books, bound manuscripts, periodicals and pamphlets include: repairing existing bindings wherever possible to preserve original historical objects; dis-binding and re-sewing text blocks; repairing signatures; and creating new bindings in leather, cloth, parchment, vellum, and paper. Paper conservation treatments for maps, manuscripts, prints, posters, architectural drawings, broadsides, drawings and ephemera include: washing and de-acidifying paper; mending tears and filling losses; and lining large sheets of paper.

To prevent damage to library materials, we build custom-sized protective enclosures such as clamshell boxes, four-flap wrappers, cloth portfolios and Mylar encapsulations. The Conservation Laboratory is a 1500 square foot facility in two rooms. There are four workbenches for bookbinders, four large mobile tables for paper treatments, six metal and wooden book presses, and a tooling bench for titling and decorating bindings using our extensive collection of bookbinder's finishing tools.

The specialized equipment found in the Conservation Laboratory includes:

  • Fume hood for solvent treatments, including stain reduction, mold remediation, and tape removal. Large stainless steel sink with water filtration system for washing and de-acidifying paper
  • HEPA vacuum system for cleaning of soiled or moldy books.
  • Digital camera and mobile camera stand for in-situ photo-documentation of repairs, and a computer database in which each conservator records work done on special collections materials.
  • Flexible fiber optic light-sheet and ultraviolet lamp for the examination of paper documents.
  • A leaf-caster for replacing missing sections of damaged sheets of paper.
  • A suction table for water and solvent treatments of paper, including washing and stain reduction.
  • A paper drying rack that can accommodate an entire book at a single time.
  • An ultrasonic welder for creating polyester film encapsulations of fragile paper documents.