In the Conservation Lab of Stanford University Libraries, careful technique, creativity and deft hands come together to preserve the university’s archival treasures.
When objects arrive in the lab, located in Redwood City, California, since September 2013, conservators assess their needs and create preservation plans. These may range from repairing damaged books and maps to designing boxes to hold and display unique objects.
Part of Stanford’s Preservation Department, the Conservation Lab treated more than 3,600 objects in the last academic year. Book and paper conservators repaired nearly 850 books and approximately 250 flat items such as maps and photos. Technicians made enclosures for more than 2,600 objects.
In recent months lab staff restored a first edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, an 1853 map of the North Pacific Ocean and an 1876 issue of the satirical magazine The Wasp.
They also designed display boxes for a 1797 fan and for “Andy,” a programmable robot produced in 1985 by a Silicon Valley company. An early 19th-century scroll received a new case and turning mechanism.
These six objects and their conservation care take center stage in a Stanford Report feature. Learn more about the extraordinary hands-on work that preserves the university’s treasures for generations of scholars to come.