lady looking at an old book with a torchBook conservator examining a 17th century Dutch atlas with raking light

Artlab book conservators treat a wide variety of bound items ranging in date, style, format and material from the state’s collections and for private clients. The conservation approach requires a balance, recognising the unique value and intended use of each volume.

When assessing a book or book collections for private clients we provide information about treatment options for the item and discuss any costs involved to safeguard the long-term care of the original object with you.

Bound materials conserved at Artlab include printed books, diaries, manuscripts, pamphlets, diaries, photograph albums, scrapbooks, atlases, register and record books, sketchbooks, and artists’ books.

Treatment can be minimal or extensive, encompassing both paper conservation and conservation of the binding materials, such as leather, cloth or parchment. Some books require only minimal stabilisation of the pages and/or binding, while others may need further intervention to reinstate the integrity of the binding.

Stabilisation treatment will slow the deterioration of the book, and is often used for books of limited value or for books which are not often handled. This usually incorporates the use of archival boxing/housing to provide an improved storage environment.

When extensive treatment is required, our conservators utilise many techniques including disbinding, surface cleaning, washing, paper repairs, page guarding and resewing of the text block. When a book presents with part or completely detached spines or boards, rebacking with a sympathetic material is a way to reinforce and reattach these original components to the binding.