Preventive conservation

Prevention is always better than cure. Our preventive conservators work across all areas of the Library to protect the collections from harm, inhibit the progress of existing damage or deterioration, and prevent new damage from occurring.

Setting and measuring environmental standards

The environmental conditions in which items are used, stored and exhibited are a critical factor in the reactions that cause items to deteriorate. Working with the science team in interpreting and applying environmental standards and guidelines we provide advice on optimum conditions for different material types and we are responsible for monitoring levels of light, temperature, relative humidity and pollution to ensure that they are within acceptable or beneficial levels and are stable.

Collections disaster and salvage

We are responsible for establishing, maintaining and developing collections disaster and salvage procedures. Working closely with our own Estates department, we train dedicated response teams and volunteers from across the Library and provide 24-hour emergency response all year round to any incident that adversely affects, or has the potential to adversely affect the collections.

Integrated pest management

We are responsible for providing integrated pest management across the library, working with our Estates department to keep the collections and storage areas free from pests. We respond to any incident involving pests, providing identification and advice. We also offer a quarantine service in our dedicated quarantine room.

Handling and use

Our collection is a working collection, and handling and use pose one of the greatest risks to its physical condition. It’s our job to advocate best practice when handling and using collection items, within the Library and externally. We provide training for our own staff and all users, and written guidelines and support information.

Read our position paper and strategic direction 2017-20 (PDF format) for more details on our conservation methods and activities.


Blog posts

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 Ever wondered how centuries old textiles have endured whilst today’s t-shirt only lasts a season? Library colleagues from different departments have been working together to develop new ways...

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...

Condition Surveying British Library on Demand

Monday, February 18, 2019

British Library on Demand (BLoD) is the document supply service from The British Library. Items are purchased specifically for the purpose, in addition to the legal deposit collection, to provide remote access to over 42 million items. Users include libraries,...

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