Conservation and Collections Care: Cadbury Research Library transcript

Title: Conservation and Collections Care: Cadbury Research Library
Duration: 5:30

Sarah Kilroy: Senior Conservator at the Cadbury Research Library. Here in the Wilson Conservation Studio our primary focus is to conserve and preserve the collections of over 3 million manuscripts and 100,000 rare books held at the Cadbury Research Library. This particular project which Kaori is working on at the moment is a book from the 1650s, ‘A Way to Get Wealth’. It’s a farming manual and these books are quite unusual to survive which is why it’s having a particularly extensive conservation treatment. The book’s being taken apart and each page individually cleaned and then washed, which removes soluble acidity and discolouration. It’s then been repaired with Japanese tissues and wheat starch paste to make good any tears and losses. And when the textbook’s complete it will go to James Brockman for the binding to be re-sewn and reconstructed using as much of the original leather as possible, integrating it with new leather to give a sympathetic repair.

Jane Jones: NADFAS Heritage Volunteer
. So initially when we’re inspecting a book we use smoke sponge which is a very soft sponge which removes the residue or salt from years of dust and bristle brushes to then clean the spine and joints and to move all the residue away from the paper. We also repair the leather work using a wheat based starch, working it in a thin coat onto the leather underneath and then easing it back onto the board so that it adheres firmly and those repairs should last us centuries, hopefully.

Marie Sviergula: Conservator at the Cadbury Research Library
. I’ve been recently conserving play bills from the 1840s from the Birmingham Royal Theatre. It’s a really important collection because they are very ephemeral items in the fact that they were never meant to last. A great amount of work has gone into them. I began with surface cleaning the play bills, their backings had to also be removed as they were adhered to non-archival papers, they were then solubility tested to ensure safe further treatment involving water, they were then washed and dried and then they were lined with Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste and finally they’ve been stretched out on a drying board.

Sarah Kilroy: Senior Conservator at the Cadbury Research Library
. The collections include a wide range of materials, mainly paper based but also parchment, papyrus, leather, photographs and most of the work we do in-house, however if there areas that aren’t our expertise we outsource these to specialist conservators. So part of what we do is find appropriate experts to send our material to.

Ogilvie Vaile: Conservator. For the University of Birmingham I have worked on a number of projects. The first being the conservation of a set of prints produced by the Arundel Society. This involved removing backings from all the prints. I have five works here from the University of Birmingham.  Here are two Arundel Society prints from which we removed the backings as I explained earlier.  Here are two Hardman drawings, drawings of stained glass windows and we hand cut the mounts for these using a scalpel. As you can see, the mount, the window mount, echoes the image. And finally I have an etching of the University of Birmingham for which I’ve been asked to provide a quote for the framing. I’m going to use the same moulding as I used for the Cadbury Research Library prints and I’m going to fit ultraviolet glass into the frame.

Sarah Kilroy: Senior Conservator at the Cadbury Research Library. The conservation studio is also the centre for where we prepare our exhibitions. We rotate exhibitions in the Muirhead atrium area three times a year now. All the material that’s going to be displayed is brought to the studio, we discuss whether it’s suitable for exhibition, carry out the appropriate conservation treatments, mount it, provide book cradles if necessary and then we’ll mock-up the exhibition within the space here to get an idea of how it’s going to look. And then we’ll install it, measure the light levels and then rotate those round three times a year so that the material isn’t left on display for excessive periods of time. Anything and everything that involves the physical care of the collections is organised through the conservation studio here at the Cadbury Research Library.

End of recording