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About our collections /

Caring for our collections

How do you keep books and manuscripts that are hundreds of years old safe and ready to be used? By having a world-class conservation lab.

The conservation team focuses its work on conserving and preserving the Folger collections for generations to come, while supporting accessibility for researchers and exhibition visitors today.

This involves the repair and stabilizing of collection materials (books, art, manuscripts) to slow down deterioration and ensure that the items are as safe as possible to handle. It also includes monitoring and advising on the library’s storage environments as well as exhibition preparations and installations.

Photo of a hand carefully mending an artwork on paper over a light table

Conservation Treatments

The conservation and preservation team performs complex conservation treatments on rare items utilizing the code of ethics as specified by the American Institute for Conservation. When a particular treatment for a collection item falls outside of staff capacity, the team is responsible for outsourcing that treatment to other conservation professionals.

Ensuring a Safe Environment

It doesn’t do any good to treat items in our collections if the conditions they’re stored and handled in are detrimental to their long-term survival. So another important aspect of conservation’s duties are to ensure a safe environment for all of our materials. Doing this involes:

  • Environmental condition recommendations and monitoring in collections spaces
  • Emergency preparedness guidelines and training exercises
  • Integrated pest management in all collection areas
  • Management of collections spaces