The Library has a fully equipped conservation laboratory where the latest preservation technology is used to protect the Library's unique collections.

The Library's conservation laboratory began operation in 1989, and expanded into larger quarters in 1993. The laboratory supports a wide range of physical treatment, from box-making to minor repair to full conservation treatment of materials from the Library's collections. Equipment includes a sink with a water filtration system for aqueous treatments, a fume hood for solvent work, an ultrasonic welder, a cast iron board shear, as well as equipment for hand bookbinding.

Activities and Projects

The Conservation Department undertakes a wide range of preservation and conservation activities on an ongoing basis. The most important of these is maintaining a suitable environment for storage of Library materials 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Storage temperature is kept at 68 degrees F. and 40-45% relative humidity for all but the photographic materials, which are kept at 65 degrees F. and 35% RH.

Priority is given to the welfare of the collections as a whole, though individual treatments have not been neglected. The collections have been extensively surveyed in order to gather the information necessary for planning and decision making. Some of the projects which have been undertaken and completed, or which are still ongoing, include creating protective enclosures for fragile or damaged items which cannot be treated immediately (the Conservation Department creates on average over 2,000 enclosures of various kinds per year); repair and/or rebinding; full conservation treatment; aqueous and non-aqueous deacidification; preservation microfilming; facsimile reproduction onto alkaline paper; and polyester encapsulation.

Other activities include training Library and Museum staff in the correct ways to handle, clean, enclose, and shelve materials; consultation with the Acquisitions and Cataloging staff in making decisions concerning reformatting; the implementation of screening procedures to catch individual conservation problems in acquisition, in circulation, and during shelving; and assistance in the mounting of materials for exhibits.

The Library also has a long history of involvement in cooperative and regional activities, including membership in groups and organizations concerned with conservation and preservation, participation in and presentations given at conferences, seminars, and workshops, as well as contribution of articles to publications in the field.