At the heart of the library are the collections in all physical and digital formats. Our conservation team cares for the physical collections, which number some 150 million items, from all cultures dating from 3000 BCE to the present day. The collections include a wide array of material types including paper, parchment, photographs, leather, papyrus, wood, textile, ceramic, metal.

The work of our conservation experts allows the collection to be used and preserves it for as long as possible. We do this with preventive techniques, hands on treatment of individual items, assessing and preparing items for digitisation, non-destructive scientific analysis and imaging techniques.

Read our position paper and strategic direction 2017-20 (PDF format) for more details on our conservation methods and activities. You can also come on a tour of our conservation studios to find out more.

Find out more

Preventive conservation

We protect the British Library's collections from harm, damage and deterioration.

Conservation treatment

We conserve books, paper items, parchment, vellum, photographs and textiles.

Conservation internships and placements

See our opportunities for conservation students and professionals.

Conservation science

Our specialists test materials, analyse items and conduct research.

Conservation advice for the public

Follow our advice on how to take good care of your collections.

Preservation guides

Download our free PDF guides on a range of preservation topics.

Help

How to handle rolled items

We show you how to unroll items like scrolls, rolls and maps.

How to handle books

See the techniques you should use to keep our books in good shape.

How to handle archive material

Watch our video on handling and help us keep our archive material in good condition.

How to handle folded items

See how to handle folded items like inserts in books, large maps or charters.

How to handle prints, drawings and photographs

Our video shows you how to handle these vulnerable items.

Using gloves

Should you wear gloves? Here's some advice to help you decide.

Events

Conservation studio tour

Take a behind-the-scenes tour and see our world-renowned conservators in action

Blog posts

From Tackling Digitisation to Preserving Historic Photos - Autumn One Day Courses at British Library

Friday, September 6, 2019

By West Dean College of Arts and Conservation British Library and West Dean College of Arts and Conservation collaborate to deliver Continued Professional Development for those involved with, or with responsibility for care of libraries, archives and collections, and for...

All sewn up: British Library colleagues work together to ensure the survival of 100 embroidered and textile bookbindings

Friday, May 10, 2019

Mary Horrell, Conservation Support Assistant, and Mark Oxtoby, Collection Care Workflow Coordinator The Felbrigge Psalter’s decorative 14c covers (pictured below) are the oldest known examples of English embroidery on a book and a prime example of the type of binding...

Consider the cover: conserving a Chinese book

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The British Library's next major exhibition, Writing: Making Your Mark, opens 26 April and runs until 27 August 2019. In preparation for the exhibition, conservator Rebecca D'Ambrosio has been working on the conservation of one of the items which will...

British Sign Language Tours at the British Library Centre for Conservation

Monday, February 25, 2019

The British Library Centre for Conservation offers a number British Sign Language (BSL) tours during the course of the year. The next tour is on Wednesday 13 March at 2.00pm. You can book your tickets from the box office +44...

More blog posts

Related services and subjects

Digital preservation

We save our digital heritage for future generations

Printed books

Our collections include books, pamphlets, periodicals, newspapers, handbills and advertisements