In the Conservation Lab of Stanford University Libraries, every story has a happy ending.
Each story begins with the arrival of a university treasure – a rare book, map, serial or manuscript that needs repair, or a one-of-a-kind object that needs a custom-made box.
Like all artisans, Stanford's conservators have a deep appreciation and respect for precious objects rare to modern, from a first edition On the Origin of Species published in London in 1859, to a small white plastic robot named "Andy" produced in Silicon Valley in 1985.
When damaged items arrive at the Conservation Lab, which is part of the Preservation Department and is located in Redwood City, Calif., conservators carefully assess each item's individual needs – with the goal of keeping as much of its original material as possible.
Repairing a prized item from one of Stanford's Special Collections is hands-on work that requires patience, close attention to detail and a deft hand with a needle, scalpel, art brush, bone folder and scissors.
When a valuable object needs a box in which it can be safely stored, displayed and removed by students and scholars for study, conservation technicians design and build custom cases using archival materials.
No matter what the project, their goal is to ensure that precious objects in the rich and varied constellation of Special Collections will be accessible to Stanford students and scholars – and to researchers from around the world – for generations to come.