Often conservators are portrayed as the people who say “no” (not to be confused with the Knights Who Say “Ni”). Those of us in the Roberts Conservation Lab take a different approach. We are here to ensure the collections are in good physical condition so that they can be used by current and future patrons. We work closely with library staff to select damaged materials that need our help, and treat them quickly so they spend as little time as possible away from the stacks.
Some of the more interesting items that have come to us lately have been part of digital imaging projects. The work we are doing in support of these projects helps bring hidden collections into the open, and allows fragile items to be digitized so they can be accessed electronically. This not only saves the originals from additional wear and tear but allows better access to the materials. The Broadsides Project and the Whitman Collection are two such projects. We work with our colleagues in the Digital Production Center to make sure these items can go through the digitization process and return to the shelf in as good or better condition than when the project started.
On the rare occasion we feel an item cannot be safely used, we work closely with collection managers to find an alternative way to get the information to the patron. We want you to be successful in your research and enjoy your experience with our collections. We are here to say “yes.”