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Behind the scenes tours of the Conservation Studios

First Thursday of the month, 14.00-15.00

See the work of conservation on a 'behind the scenes' tour of the studios in the Centre for Conservation. These tours, led by British Library conservators, give an insight into the techniques used to care for our collections.

Please read Notes for visitors (PDF format) before your visit.

To book see What's on

British Library / West Dean college partnership Courses 2015

West Dean College has collaborated with the British Library to deliver a programme of courses in preservation and collection care for libraries. The programme focuses on Continued Professional Development and is aimed at professionals, conservation students and others interested in furthering their skills in this area.

Preserving historic photographs
Susie Clark
BL1 4 March 2015
Location: The British Library, London

Photographic collections are found in libraries, archives and museums all over the world. Their sensitivity to environmental conditions, and the speed with which images can deteriorate present special challenges. This one-day training session is led by Susie Clark, accredited photographic conservator. It is aimed at those with responsibility for the care of photographic collections regardless of institutional context.

The day provides an introduction to understanding and identifying photographic processes and their vulnerability, information on common conservation problems and solutions, and the preservation measures that can be taken to prolong the life and accessibility of photographic collections. Contact with real examples of different photographic processes is an important feature of this training session which is therefore limited to only 16 places. At the end of the day participants will be able to:

  • identify historic photographic processes
  • explain how damage is caused
  • implement appropriate preservation measures
  • commission conservation work

Course fee: £128

Damaged books: first practical steps
Caroline Bendix
BL2 6 March 2015
Location: The British Library, London

This training day is aimed at librarians and archivists. It provides an overview of how books and bound archives become damaged, action to minimise damage, and first steps to address common forms of damage. By the end of the day delegates will be able to:

  • recognise different types of damage
  • understand how damage is caused
  • minimise damage to books in their own organisation's collections
  • identify appropriate treatment options
  • make a protective enclosure for an item
  • recognise when volunteers could be used and when a conservator is needed.

Delegates who attended the previous training day on damaged books and bound archives commented that they gained 'practical information about damage and the realisation that I should constantly monitor the condition of items on the shelves'; and learnt 'practical skills in tape tying and producing melinex covers'. The day is led by accredited conservator Caroline Bendix, whose clients include the National Trust and English Heritage.

Course fee: £128

Understanding and caring for bookbindings
BL3 23 April 2015
Location: The British Library, London

This training day will help librarians and archivists understand the types of bindings in their collections and will provide guidance on handling and describing bindings and on appropriate conservation techniques. Participants will be given an overview of the history of Western bookbindings, with examples drawn from British Library collections. At the end of the day participants will be able to:

  • recognise different bookbinding structures and materials
  • describe bookbinding styles and structures
  • understand why bookbindings deteriorate
  • minimise the risk of damage to bookbindings
  • commission appropriate conservation work

Course fee: £116

Environment: effective monitoring and management
Jane Henderson
BL4 24 April 2015
Location: The British Library, London

Avoiding a ‘one size fits all’ approach to environmental parameters, this training day helps you to understand the vulnerabilities and tolerances of your collections and then shows how to set realistic and achievable targets that are appropriate to the materials in your care and the resources available to you. At the end of the day you will be in a strong position to take cost-effective decisions and prioritise actions for maintaining a sustainable environment. The training day is aimed at people with responsibility for the care of library and archive collections, and is led by Jane Henderson, Senior Lecturer in Conservation at Cardiff University.

Course fee: £116

Disaster response and salvage
Emma Dadson
BL5 28 April 2015
Location: The British Library, London

This intensive half-day course focuses on preparing for disaster response and salvage. The course uses experience of responding to real incidents to demonstrate how planning can minimise the impact of emergencies in libraries and archives as well as outlining the practical steps to take when responding to situations. With reference to case studies, the course includes strategies for dealing with damage, an emergency decision-making exercise and a hands-on salvage exercise. By the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  • identify the key issues that a disaster plan needs to address
  • give examples of the decisions to be made when responding to an incident
  • source salvage equipment to build a disaster kit
  • deal with a variety of wet items

Previous attendees commented that they had learnt ‘how much there is to think about when dealing with a disaster and how to prioritise actions’, 'the importance of preparedness, tips for emergency kits and for small scale incidents, and how to assess what we can cope with ourselves and when to call in help'.

The day is led by Harwell Document Restoration Services.

Course fee: £128

Information and booking

For further information T: 01243 818219 or 01243 818300

or visit West Dean website

Please return your completed booking form to

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