The Book Conservation Unit is located in B-31& B32 Olin Library and is responsible for the conservation treatment of both circulating and rare materials from the University’s various libraries and archives.
- CONSERVATION OF RARE MATERIALS - When conserving materials from the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, book conservation staff may carry out simple treatments, such as enclosure construction; or, they may undertake complex treatments such as washing, aqueous deacidification, paper repair, stain removal, resewing, cloth, leather or parchment restoration, or rebinding in cloth or leather. Much of the conservation unit’s work on rare materials is accomplished with the support of foundation grant money. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) funded the full conservation treatment of the French Revolution Collection, and the preservation and conservation of the Icelandic Collection. The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation provided funds to treat the Dante and the Petrarch Collections. The Save America's Treasures Grant Program funded the conservation treatment and digital imaging of the 10,000 pamphlets contained in Cornell’s Anti-Slavery and Civil War collection. Currently, the Save America’s Treasures program is funding the conservation and scanning of the Law Library Trial Pamphlets Collection. Previously they funded the conservation etc. of the Native American Collection, see the Training and Grants page.
- REPAIR OF CIRCULATING MATERIALS - When a damaged book is returned to the circulation desk it is directed to the conservation area where it is quickly examined. First it is evaluated to determine whether or not it is of interest to the Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection; if so, it is offered to that collection. If it is not rare, but has brittle paper it is sent to the Brittle Books program for reformatting. If it is not brittle or rare it will be repaired and returned to the stacks within 48 hours. Enclosures may be made for materials with unusual formats or for books that are being transferred to the Library Annex.
- EXHIBITION PREPARATION - In addition to treating library collections, the book conservation staff participates in exhibit preparation by conducting condition reviews, preparing exhibit supports, assisting with installation, and monitoring the environment in the display areas.
- EDUCATION - The book conservation unit has provided education and training to library assistants from small libraries in New York State through the New York State Technician Training Program (funded by a New York State Cooperative Grant), and to staff from U.S. tribal organizations through the Native American Internship in Preservation Management and Practice, funded by the IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Services)
- Library professionals have also come from Southeast Asia to participate in the Southeast Asia Training Program (funded by the Luce Foundation, Harvard-Yenching Institute, and Soros Foundation Burma Project). The conservation staff has taught classes in Bookbinding and Book Repair as part of the Cornell Adult Education (CAU) summer program.
- OUTREACH - Conservation staff will advise and assist the public with regard to water, mold or insect damage and offer advice on storage and environment. The book conservation unit is a resource for libraries, organizations, and individuals outside Cornell. Guides and instructions for many of the treatments carried out in the book conservation lab may be downloaded from the Publications page.
Cornell students may work in the department as either student assistants or volunteers. The department is fortunate to have two programs funded by donors to support student library assistants: the Seymour Askin Jr. Student Worker endowment and the Einhorn Preservation endowment.
For questions about collection care, mold or other concerns contact Michele Brown, 607-255-2484
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY PLEASE CONTACT OUR DISASTER TEAM
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