Bodleian Libraries announces major new benefaction to secure the future of conservation at Oxford University

A man wearing a dark jacket and purple shirt stands on a balcony in front of a mountain range

Mr Thomas A. Barron

The acclaimed writer and conservationist, Mr Thomas A. Barron, has generously agreed to endow the post of Head of Conservation and Heritage Science at the Bodleian Libraries, currently held by Ms Virginia Lladó-Buisán. Mr Barron is a former Rhodes Scholar and award-winning writer of fiction for children and young adults, with his trilogy The Great Tree of Avalon a New York Times bestseller. In recognition of this benefaction, the post will henceforth be known as the T. A. Barron Head of Conservation and Heritage Science.

This is a position of great importance within the Bodleian Libraries. The Conservation and Heritage Science Department, based in the Weston Library’s state-of-the-art studio, is amongst the leading conservation teams in the world. Our conservation experts work to stabilise, research, and prolong the life of the Bodleian’s vast collections by applying both traditional and pioneering methods, meeting the highest standards of preservation.

Recent examples of Bodleian treasures that have been restored through the work of the conservation team include: a recently discovered Tolkien map of Middle-Earth, Japanese picture books from the 15th to 18th centuries, Jane Austen’s Volume the First, the Selden Map of China, Mendelssohn’s Green Books, and the Douce Album of Indian paintings and calligraphy.

Mr Barron has previously supported conservation at the Bodleian through the T. A. Barron Conservation Internship, which offers an invaluable opportunity for graduates to develop their careers and engage with professional networks by learning from highly experienced conservation professionals. He has also supported professional research and development for conservation professionals such as the recent 'Textiles in Libraries' programme.

A woman in dark clothing sits in a busy conservation studio

Ms Virginia Lladó-Buisán

Richard Ovenden OBE, Bodley’s Librarian, said:

The survival of knowledge relies on the work of conservation specialists to help ensure that fragile or vulnerable books and documents can be read, studied, exhibited, and digitised. We are humbled by Tom Barron’s deep commitment to the role of conservation in the Bodleian Libraries through his endowment of our Head of Conservation and Heritage Science. His is a gift in support not just of the Bodleian, or even of conservation, but of culture, ideas, learning, and of civilised society.

Mr Barron said:

Conservation is one of the most important goals of the Bodleian Library. Virginia and her team are doing superb work that requires great skill and wisdom. So I’m truly delighted to support that work.

About Mr Thomas A. Barron

T. A. Barron grew up in Colorado ranch country. After a successful business career in New York, he moved back to Colorado to pursue his dream to be a writer, outdoorsman, and conservationist. He is the award-winning author of more than 30 highly acclaimed books, including the international bestselling series The Merlin Saga, which is now being developed into a feature film by Disney.

T. A. Barron is an advocate for public-spirited kids, and is founder of the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, a national award that each year honours 25 young people who help their communities or the environment. In addition to writing and speaking, T. A. Barron serves on many environmental and educational boards, including Princeton University, where he helped to create the Princeton Environmental Institute, and The Wilderness Society.