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Sunday, May 15 • 2:30pm - 3:00pm
(Book and Paper) You wanted WHAT, WHEN? An Issue of Scale: Delivering high end treatments on a large collection of illuminated manuscripts

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Senior managers at the Weissman Preservation Center (WPC) at Harvard University routinely establish protocols for the treatment of large collections and projects. These protocols are designed to integrate expert skill and techniques, provisions for quality control, and an efficient workflow. This talk will provide an overview of the guiding principles for best practices in the treatment of large collections, focusing on the consolidation of friable media in over one hundred and fifty medieval manuscripts requested for loan to a multi-venue exhibition. This protocol is rigorous and includes detailed instructions that define procedures used to evaluate, treat and document the consolidation of the manuscripts. The current work flow involves up to ten conservators using two fully equipped microscope stations. Our protocol ensures uniformity in treatment procedures and judgment. Consensus is critical when more than one person works on any project and is an essential component on large group projects involving many conservators. We have learned that the quality of treatment and the degree of uniformity are substantially greater when multiple conservators collectively agree and follow the same guiding principles. This approach goes beyond procedural processes – it aligns decision making and judgment. The result of having all conservators follow the same protocol gives the appearance that one person treated the entire collection. Best practices are achieved through collective and collaborative understanding. The process of developing the protocol requires extensive discussion, being open minded, sharing observations and suppressing ego. A team approach (of two or more people) is essential to help ensure the development, refinement, and execution of best standards of practice. Finally, it is extremely important that the quality of the work be uniformly high throughout the entire treatment project. And by sharing the work load, large quantities of high-quality work can be performed without burn-out and in a reasonable time frame. The presentation will discuss the details of the equipment set up and procedures used to evaluate and treat friable media in illuminated manuscripts. This includes cradles, tools for evaluating media friability, working magnification for examination and treatment, the judgment of when and when not to treat, methods of consolidation, the system for verifying that treatment was successful, and the method of digital record keeping.

avatar for Debora Mayer

Debora Mayer

Helen H. Glaser Conservator, Harvard Library, Weissman Preservation Center
Debora D. Mayer is the Helen H. Glaser Senior Paper Conservator at the Weissman Preservation Center at Harvard University. Debora is responsible for the conservation of rare and unique materials, largely unbound, held in special collections throughout Harvard libraries. She has over... Read More →

avatar for Alan Puglia, [PA]

Alan Puglia, [PA]

Senior Rare Book Conservator, Harvard Library, Weissman Preservation Center
Alan Puglia is the Senior Rare Book Conservator at the Weissman Preservation Center at Harvard University. Alan is responsible for managing and coordinating the conservation of special collections, primarily bound materials, throughout Harvard libraries. A graduate of the University... Read More →

Sunday May 15, 2016 2:30pm - 3:00pm EDT
Room 210 AB/EF