Leeds University Library

Conservation

Conservator working on a book

Library collections are vulnerable to poor environmental conditions and physical wear and tear. At our conservation unit in Special Collections, we aim to ensure long-term access to our material and raise awareness of issues that affect its condition.

We carry out preventive conservation and remedial conservation, according to recognised professional standards.

Preventive conservation

This is indirect action aimed at minimising deterioration and protecting the collections for the future.

Preventive conservation includes:

  • safe storage, handling, transport and display
  • maintaining good environmental conditions
  • reformatting (eg microfilming, copying onto archival paper)
  • managing insects and other pests
  • disaster planning and prevention.

Remedial conservation

This is direct action to stabilise damaged objects and slow further deterioration. It is time-consuming and expensive and cannot alter the fact that damage has occurred.

Remedial conservation includes:

  • examination of the object and recording its condition and treatment
  • surface cleaning to remove superficial dirt
  • washing to remove acidic compounds and discolouration
  • deacidification (alkalisation) to neutralise acids and leave an alkaline residue in the paper to slow down future degradation
  • removal of harmful or unsuitable repairs and backings
  • removal of mould
  • tear repair and infilling with suitable paper or paper pulp
  • flattening.