Special Collections Conservation Lab

The conservation lab supports the Special Collections Division by preserving and treating the historical materials in its collections. The Conservation Laboratory abides by the Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.

The Conservation Lab treats manuscripts, maps, photographic materials, posters, and other rare materials from the Special Collections Division. Staff members and students conduct surveys of collections to determine their condition and then help set priorities for new treatment. The collections are monitored for correct temperature and humidity. Before collections are repaired, procedures are discussed with the curators of each collection.

Treatments include:

  • cleaning
  • rehousing
  • deacidification
  • and encapsulation.

Digital copies can be made of the objects that can no longer be handled because of their fragile condition and the originals can be put away for safekeeping. Film can be put in cold storage and AV materials can be duplicated to preserve their content. Staff members and students work many hours, with great care, to make these objects available. They also give demonstrations to students and librarians on safe handling, collection care, and salvage from disasters.

Examples of Material Damage

About Our Process

Conserving historic materials is a labor of love for us. However, the conservation process can be quite labor-intensive depending on the material we are dealing with. Below are just a few of the steps that we perform on the materials that come through our lab.

Conservation Process Example

This 20th century photograph from our ship building collection is being cleaned.

Conservation Process Example

We train staff on how to salvage photographic materials from a disaster.

Conservation Process Example

We take care to handle books in our Rare Book Collection by the boards rather than head cap. This puts less stress on the book binding and ensures that the books last longer.

Conservation Process Example

Interleaving scrapbooks with buffered tissue will help stop acid migration. Our Digital Collections include many interesting scrapbooks such as the Scrapbooks of Frank Armstrong collection.

Conservation Process Example

The conservation treatment for this document is to remove the tape from the document, clean it, deacidify, and then repair it with Japanese paper.

Conservation Process Example

Student repairing document with Filmoplast-R, silicone release paper, and tacking iron.

A Finished Project

Item is believed to be a souvenir flag obtained by an American soldier from a Japanese soldier during World War II. The flag was presented to a drafted Japanese soldier, Nakamura (surname) Tomezoo (given name), upon his leaving for military duty. Along with the hand prints of a child are several wishes by friends and family members. These include: "Do your best and wait for answer from a supernatural power" (an old proverb from the soldier's father), "Take care, my Brother," "Congratulations for your draft," "Keep fighting and keep winning," "Take good care of this country," "God is on our side," "Sacrifice your body to the country," "Rapid stream," "Win, Triumph, Loyalty," "Don’t stop shooting," and "I wish you the best for your military success."

More information about this piece can be found in our Digital Collections.

Before Conservation

Japanese Flag Before

After Conservation

Japanese Flag After

Contact Us

We'd love to talk to you more about our conservation efforts. If you'd like to know more, feel free to contact us.

Lynette Lundin

Normal Office Hours:
Monday-Wednesday 9:00a - 5:30p
Thursday 9:00a-3:30p

Back to the Special Collections Division

Joyner Library Special Collections Conservation Lab

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