Friday, 7 August 2009

British Library Centre for Conservation

*photo courtesy of

The conservation team at the British Library is what keeps all of the items in top form. Their goal is to preserve while maintaining an authentic look. The term they used to describe what they aim for was "like for like"- meaning to match the material and appearance to the original item. Looking at their work, it seems so interesting to me to be able to repair these priceless artifacts and restore them to life. According to some of the team; it is interesting but a job is still a job- I wonder if something like this actually loses its excitement...
One item that was shown to us was a newspaper that was in dire need of repair. The conservation team spent 165 hours on this newspaper alone! Of that, 51 hours were spent washing, sewing and de-acidifying the paper-not to mention putting it back together again. This seems like a field that will always be in demand due to the amount of items, not just here but world-wide, and the need to preserve them.

The work they do here is truly incredible. The team of six receive a specific project and sometimes pool resources and knowledge to get the job done. It was very interesting to see the methods and tools used to revive the priceless items the library holds. The center also runs workshops, exhibits, tours, and professional training courses. Donors are the main source of funding for the center.
The tour was very informative but quick. The work space seemed adequate and very modern-built for the benefit of the staff and the work at hand. There was enough natural light to pass the day and it was laid out and designed in such a way that it would not harm the paper or items being worked on. We had the wonderful opportunity to speak to some of the team members and they showed us samples of their work. I hold these items in such high regard. I was fascinated with the history of each item we examined. It is amazing to think of the history these items hold, tell the story of, and have been through. It is the team of conservationists that keeps this alive and allows the story to continue.

To find more information about what they do, visit

No comments:

Post a Comment