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SDR Deposit of the Week: Conservation Services treatment documentation

Conservator Beth Ryan points out damage to a volume in a "before treatment" video

Conservation Services is delighted to announce our new collection in the SDR, Stanford University Libraries Conservation Services treatment documentation. Beginning this past summer, we began depositing treatment reports, photographs, and videos.

As a department, we create records of conservation treatments done to repair and house collections. Conservators take pictures, write reports, and gather technical information on the items we treat. We examine the current structure and materials used to create an item such as the way a book was originally bound or how a map was printed. We detail the methods and materials we use to repair them, from changes to the structure to new materials added. This assists conservators and researchers in the future, providing a unique set of metadata about our collections. It also serves as a way for us to communicate what we do to those who send us work.

One recent innovation with the documentation we create has been to record videos where conservators discuss the condition of an item before treatment, pointing out what needs to be addressed. Then after the treatment we shoot another video where the conservator shows what they did to stabilize and repair the item. Several of these videos are now in our collection and can be viewed by anyone. Since this collection has now been indexed by DLSS, these videos and other documentation will be discoverable via SearchWorks. We’re currently working with colleagues in Special Collections and DLSS to further enhance this access.

Here are two examples of treatment videos and documentation:
Menorat Ha-maʼor, an 18th century Hebrew book bound in parchment
Richard Owen’s Memoir on the Gorilla (from the Stephen Jay Gould Collection)

We are grateful for the help we’ve received as we develop our collection. Hannah Frost, Ben Albritton, and Cathy Aster in DLSS as well as Ann Myers, Michelle Paquette, and Peter Whidden in Special Collections have assisted us with their skills, interest, and support of our work. We are excited to share this collection as broadly as possible.



Kristen St. John
Head of Conservation Services
(650) 497-6493