Caring for the past: conserving the Library’s collection of pamphlets and booklets

Lizzie Fuller, trainee conservator, writes about her work with some of our 19th and 20th century pamphlets.

As a trainee Paper Conservator, I am fortunate to have opportunities to work on fascinating objects and this summer was no exception when I was given the chance to carry out conservation treatment on the Library of the Society of Friends’ collection of booklets and pamphlets as part of my student placement at Sussex Conservation Consortium. As I worked through the booklets it was interesting to uncover the breadth of areas that the Quakers have been involved with, as well as the diverse variety of pamphlet styles.

Reducing a heavy layer of animal glue on one booklet

Reducing a heavy layer of animal glue on one booklet

Paper conservation involves the stabilisation of paper-based objects in order to improve long-term preservation. For the pamphlet and booklet project, my treatment involved removing deteriorated elements such as rusting staples and degraded pressure-sensitive tape, which were causing damage to the paper as well as staining and would result in more damage in the future. I also reduced thick areas of animal glue that were restricting the opening of covers and re-adhered the lifted spine materials using wheatstarch paste and Japanese repair papers. Following the removal of staples, I re-sewed the bindings and tipped in any loose inserts with a Japanese paper hinge to prevent them from getting lost. As an organic material, paper naturally degrades and conservation plays an essential role in mitigating against this so that objects are protected and preserved for years to come.

Lifting degraded adhesive tape

Lifting degraded adhesive tape

I am currently in my second year of study at Camberwell College of Arts, University of the Arts, London, and this student placement has contributed to the development of my practical skills, as well as providing valuable experience of a professional environment. Sussex Conservation Consortium is a small private studio owned jointly by Ian Watson and Ruth Stevens, both accredited Book and Library Materials Conservators. I particularly benefited from working under the supervision of two experienced conservators and applying some of their wealth of knowledge to my work. My placement was a really enjoyable and useful experience and I am very grateful for the Library’s agreement to me working on these valued and important objects.

A booklet sewn together after removing staples

A booklet sewn together after removing staples

You can support work to conserve the Library’s collections by donating to our BeFriend a Book appeal. Please email or write to us for more information about the appeal.

 

 

 

 

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One Response to Caring for the past: conserving the Library’s collection of pamphlets and booklets

  1. Andrew Hicks says:

    Fascinating to read about your good work conserving precious documents. What an enjoyable and satisfying career working with your hands and not peering endlessly at a computer.

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