Wednesday, 25 July 2012

I Have Always Imagine That Paradise Will Be a Kind of Library

For our last class, we visited the British Library once again, this time to take a look at their Centre for Conservation.

We had three presenters: John, from Preventative Conservation; Caroline, from Preservation Advisory; and Robert, from the Conservation Studio. All three presenters gave us a little bit of info about their area of expertice in order to give the class a fairly broad view of the type of work that is done in the centre.

Here are a few of the things I learned:
  • The Centre for Conservation has been in its current location (an addition to the original British Library) since 2007.
  • The centre includes some rather interesting rooms like the Quarantine Room for materials suspected of infestation upon arrival and the Inergen Gas Store Room which is, essentially, a fire-safe room. 
  • As for the purpose of the centre- 'The principal role of our conservators is to treat damaged or deteriorated items to ensure that they are stable and accessible - both now and in the future - for exhibitions, public programmes and researchers.'
  • The Collection Care Department contains interventive conservators (digitization, exhibition, repairs), preventative conservators (storage, pest control, environmental monitoring), conservation scientists, and preservation advisory.
  • Preservation Advisory is mainly designed to support other libraries and archives in the area of preservation. They offer enquiry services, training events, preservation management and the like.
  • The Conservation Studios are where the magic happens! (In my opinion)
    • Conservation concerns, as well as running repairs are addressed and resolved here.
    • The studios contain sinks that run with the library's 'own' water- that is, water that is filtered through calcium to conteract acidity.
    • There are 38 employees on conservation teams-- only 4 of which are professional gold finishers!
After our tour of the Centre for Conservation, we got to check out the library's current exhibit 'Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands.' SOOOOO COOOOOOOL. Original manuscript of Jane Austen's Persuasion? Check. Original manuscript of Lewis Carroll's 'Alice's Adventures Under Ground?' Check. Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? Check. JK Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone? Check. Handwritten lyrics by John Lennon's In My Life? Check. This list could go on and on and on.

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