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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 of Arts and Conservation partnership courses 2018

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation 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

For booking information please see West Dean College of Arts and Conservation short course web pages here

Leather species identification 

20 February 2018
With Yvette Fletcher

Cost: £140

This training day is aimed at leather conservators and other museum and library professionals who wish to develop an understanding of species identification. It provides a practical guide to the identification of animal species commonly used in leather and a very brief overview of tannages. It is led by Yvette Fletcher ACR, Head of Conservation, The Leather Conservation Centre, Northampton.


Damaged books and bound archives

6 March 2018
With Caroline Bendix

Cost: £140

This training day is aimed at librarians and archivists. It provides an overview of how books and bound archives become damaged, considers actions to minimise damage, and describes first steps to address common forms of damage. The training day is led by Caroline Bendix ACR (Independent Conservator). Please ensure that you bring with you on the day: One Paperback book height of 20cm x width of 13cm x thickness of 2-3cm and one Hardback book standard octavo size 22 cm.


Dust and dirt: Strategies for prevention and management

24 April 2018
With Caroline Bendix

Cost: £140

Dust is a constant presence in most libraries and archives and can be harmful to collections. This training day will focus on understanding the nature of dust and the threat it poses, as well as means by which dust can be cleaned and how collections may be protected from it. At the end of the day delegates will have: A clear understanding of how dust forms and from what it is made Practical knowledge of cleaning collections Awareness of health and safety issues The ability to identify pest and mould damage Details of various methods of protecting against dust The ability to set up a housekeeping programme An understanding of using volunteers to help clean collections.


Preserving Historic Photographs 

17 May 2018
With Susie Clark

Cost: £140

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.


Understanding bookbindings 

23 May 2018
With Arthur Green and Mariluz Beltran de Guevara

Cost: £140

This training day will help librarians and archivists understand the types of bindings in their collections and will provide guidance on describing and handling bindings and on appropriate conservation techniques. It is aimed at librarians, archivists, volunteers and anyone working with collections of historic bindings who would like to understand more about the books that they handle. There will be a look at the structural features of hand-made bookbindings from the printed era. Leaving aside fancy decoration and the printed word, Arthur Green will examine some common binding styles, concentrating on the specific materials and techniques used in their construction and the various reasons why they might degrade. There will be a tour of the basement which is kept at a cool temperature, so please bring a jumper or a cardigan. Coats and bags are not allowed in the store for security reasons but will be locked away.


Environment: Effective monitoring and management

14 June 2018
With Jane Henderson

Cost: £140

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.


Book furniture 

18 September 2018
With Charlotte Howsam and David Pearson

Cost: £130

This course will consider the history of book furniture from the late medieval period to the 19th century, examining various types of book fittings and how they changed in style and use over time, from the functional to the decorative. The production techniques and materials will also be discussed, as well as techniques for the identification of different materials and their deterioration. Charlotte Howsam completed a PhD in Archaeology at the University of Sheffield in 2016 on late medieval book fittings archaeologically recovered from English monastic sites. She is currently a Post-Excavation Archaeologist for Archaeology South-East (UCL). David Pearson retired in 2017 as Director of Culture, Heritage & Libraries for the City of London Corporation. He is now concentrating on academic work as a book historian, is a Research Fellow of the Institute of English Studies at the University of London and the Lyell Reader in Bibliography at Oxford for 2017/18. His books include Oxford Bookbinding 1500-1640 (2000) and English Bookbinding Styles 1450-1800 (2005, new edition 2014). He regularly teaches on the Rare Book Schools in London and Charlottesville. Maickel van Bellegem ACR is the Metals Subject Leader at West Dean College. Maickel is a goldsmith and metals conservator who has worked both independently and in museums, notably the Rijksmuseum, the British Museum and the V&A Museum. He has worked on a range of metal objects for display, loans, storage and research purposes, and has published regularly. Topics of publications included historical manufacturing techniques relating to patination of 'black bronze' alloys in 19th century Burmese lime boxes and their conservation, authentication and developing conservation treatments for corroded silver.

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