NEDCC's book conservators treat a wide variety of bound materials, and understand the complex nature of bound volumes. In consultation with clients, NEDCC strives to achieve a balanced approach to conservation that recognizes the unique value and intended use of each volume. The Book Conservation Laboratory treats bound materials that range in date, style, format, and material, including:
Treatment can range from minimal to extensive. Conservators perform book conservation work ranging from basic stabilization to extensive chemical, structural, and cosmetic treatment of both pages and bindings. Conservation standards are employed and NEDCC uses materials that are stable and durable in all work. The book conservation staff has extensive experience in both book and paper conservation techniques.
Basic stabilization is the minimal level of treatment required to slow deterioration of a book. It excludes most cosmetic treatments and many structural repairs. Basic stabilization is frequently chosen for books of limited value or for those that receive little use. It is also appropriate for books that are valuable as historic objects or artifacts.
Some volumes may require extensive treatment of both its pages and binding, including chemical and physical treatment, some of which may be cosmetic. Disbinding, surface cleaning, washing, aqueous or nonaqueous deacidification, mending and guarding of pages, and re-sewing are all techniques that may be undertaken to treat the text block. For books that have partially or completely detached boards or spines, rebacking is a means of repairing the original bindings and reattaching them to the text. If the original binding is too deteriorated to reuse, the book is rebound in one of a variety of binding styles (case, split-board, or laced-in structure) and titled. Extensive treatment is usually reserved for books of high value.
The Book Conservation Lab coordinates projects with other departments, by collaborating when necessary to treat bound volumes with significant visual components such as photograph albums, early hand-colored atlases, illuminated manuscripts and artists' books.
Optimum image capture often takes place during conservation treatment, and NEDCC's book and paper conservation labs work closely with the Center's in-house imaging studio. Because of this unique collaboration, NEDCC's conservators are able to consult with photographers to determine the best approach for imaging an object and advise on careful handling of rare and fragile materials. This further protects the material, improves efficiency, and captures information at the safest and most appropriate time, while conservation treatment ensures long-term preservation of the original object.
Conservators also provide preservation outreach and guidance directly to clients by conducting collection- and item-level assessments, teaching workshops and webinars, and answering technical inquiries.
Since the cost of treatment depends on the condition of the object and the type of treatment required, NEDCC's conservators examine each object prior to preparing a treatment proposal and cost estimate. Objects can be brought to NEDCC or shipped to us for examination.
The book conservation laboratory staff welcomes the opportunity to discuss your collection’s conservation needs.
Packing and shipping instructions are available here.
NEDCC offers three types of assessments, Preservation Needs Assessments, Collection-Level Assessments, and Item-by-Item Assessments. An assessment is often a first step in developing a preservation plan for your collection or object. The resulting report can provide the basis for a successful fundraising initiative.