CONSERVATION IN WALES: SOME CO‐OPERATIVE INITIATIVES

DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/01435129010005234
Pages20-22
Publication Date01 Apr 1990
AuthorLawrence Rawsthorne
SubjectLibrary & information science
CONSERVATION
IN WALES:
SOME CO-OPERATIVE
INITIATIVES
Lawrence Rawsthorne
LIBRARY MANAGEMENT
To many librarians conservation is a new
issue; most began the 1980s with an almost
total lack of awareness that problems of
conservation existed. Consequently many
were also ignorant of the solutions which
have been developed and used, most notably
by our archivist colleagues, for some time.
The impetus to raise the profile of
conservation in librarianship has come from
the national institutions with their strong
custodial responsibilities, taking a leading
role initially in consciousness raising and
then in education.
In Wales, the National Library has
assumed this role which it has taken very
seriously. Since 1984 it has arranged a series
of conservation conferences aimed at
librarians, curators and archivists. Much has
been gained by aiming the conferences at this
wider, multidisciplinary community in terms
of extending information networks and
giving participants a chance to share
solutions and techniques developed outside
their own professional spheres. The first
conference, "Paper, Parchment, Bindings",
held in 1984, revealed a low level of
awareness amongst librarians in comparison
with the other groups represented. The
conference was naturally broadly based and
took the form of an introduction to the
subject from the different professional
perspectives. Since then the conferences have
looked at specialist topics such as
photographic conservation and restoration,
conservation and exhibitions, the
transportation of rare materials and the
design of buildings with conservation in
mind. They have also drawn on the providers
of commercial conservation services who
have presented conference papers and
provided exhibitions. Complementing the
conferences have been a number of open
days at the National Library at which
conservation techniques and materials have
been demonstrated. The most recent was in
March 1990 when a basic workshop for non-
conservators was held in conjunction with
LISC (Wales), which included practical
sessions on cleaning books and documents,
simple repairs and the application of leather
dressings. Other specialist techniques such as
encapsulation and mount cutting were also
demonstrated.
The burning of Newtown Library, Powys,
in 1986 brought disaster control planning to
prominence in Wales and again it was the
National Library of Wales that took the
initiative. Starting in 1987 it organised a
series of meetings to encourage disaster
control planning which were attended by
archivists, curators of museums and galleries,
and librarians. At these meetings the
participants shared their experience and
expertise, most notably at the first meeting
when the County Librarian of Powys
described her experience of the burning of
Newtown Library and the lessons learned.
Another valuable contribution to the same
meeting came from a County Fire Prevention
Officer who spoke on the importance of
prevention and preparedness and of the need
for up to date fire certificates, particularly
regarding those parts which show the ground
plan or building layout. At the second
meeting the disaster control plans for Powys
Library Service and the National Library of
Wales were distributed to help and encourage
those about to embark on the task. It is a
20

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