The Conservation and Collection Care Department aims to maximise the useful lifetime of Bodleian Libraries collections through a number of preventive activities and initiatives. These include environmental monitoring and research, handling and use of collection material, and ensuring suitable materials are used for the storage and display of collections.
The long term preservation of our collections relies on maintaining suitable environmental conditions both in storage and on display. In order to avoid deterioration such as fading, undesirable dimensional changes and mould damage, we regularly monitor and control relative humidity, temperature, dust and light.
Integrated pest management
The Bodleian Libraries have an established integrated pest management (IPM) programme, which takes a holistic approach to managing library pest populations. We monitor across special collection sites, by using blunder traps to monitor the type, frequency and location of pests across libraries. This analysis can lead to further investigation and preventive measures when large numbers of pests are found. Affected collection items are not treated with pesticides but frozen instead.
Handling and use
Poor handling can result in both physical and chemical damage to collections. It can also lead to health and safety problems for staff and readers when lifting heavy items or handling hazardous materials. Conservation and Collection Care recognises the importance of engaging with users to ensure that the best preservation standards are always kept when handling our collections, and we do this by offering training for staff and appropriate information for readers and scholars.
The Bodleian Libraries have an emergency plan in place, and conservation staff manage the salvage of collections affected by emergencies such as floods, fire, mould outbreaks and civil unrest. Our team works closely with Health and Safety, Security and other departments to establish effective response procedures to these potential threats.
Preventive conservation research
In order to continuously improve our approach to preservation we undertake research into new techniques. Recent and ongoing research includes trialling new methods for treating pest infestation and measuring colour change in library collections using spectrophotometry. We also provide research and advice on materials suitable for display and storage, for example paints and coatings used in fixtures and fittings which will come in direct contact with collections.