125 Stanford Stories

NO. 24
Behind the Scenes

TLC for Stanford’s archival treasures

Images in this slideshow are snapshots of various conservation projects. Repairing Darwin’s masterwork required taking the entire 150-year-old book apart, mending torn pages and sewing the book’s pages back together. For more images and the complete restoration story for each object, view the Conservation Lab feature – clickable in the text below. Linda A. Cicero/Stanford News Service
Paper conservator Debra Fox carefully guides the four largest pieces of an 1853 North Pacific Ocean map back together, in preparation for lining. Linda A. Cicero/Stanford News Service
David Brock, a rare book conservator, examines a damaged page of The Wasp, an 1876 satirical magazine. Linda A. Cicero/Stanford News Service
Conservation technician Sarah Newton designed and created a new case made of archival board for a 1797 fan. The case features an attached display stand that folds up into the lid of the storage box. Linda A. Cicero/Stanford News Service
Newton places “Andy” in the base of the custom-made case she designed and created for the pint-sized robot. Linda A. Cicero/Stanford News Service
The hand-colored aquatint strip panorama, made in 1822, is about 5 inches tall and 20 feet long. It arrived in the Conservation Lab without its original boxwood case and mechanism for turning the scroll. Linda A. Cicero/Stanford News Service

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 Stanfords 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 Darwins 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 universitys treasures for generations of scholars to come.