Cleaning a book..? - there’s more to it than you might think….
As part of our Beyond the Library Door Project to improve the cataloguing and care of our thousands of Library books we now have a new team of over 20 enthusiastic Library Preservation Volunteers. The team are enjoying not only contributing to the continuing survival of the books but also enjoying discovering the books for themselves!
We started in May 2018 with a full day’s training from conservator Giorgia Genco and three sessions run by David Pearson, an expert in historic book bindings. Giorgia patiently took us through all the different elements of how to clean the books and how to grade the condition of each book. We learnt about when to use pony hair and hog hair brushes, how to use the mini Museum vacuum cleaners and how to tie a ‘Granny bow’. We also measured the books with a special piece of kit not surprising called a ‘book measuring device’. Another key task was to assess the condition of each book by checking damage to the spine, corners and pages – and awarding each one a condition grade depending on how bad (or good) its condition was. This condition information will be used in the future to plan for a repair and conservation programme. Finally after washing off over 30 years of dust from the shelves we put them back on the shelf all clean and tidy.
So now there are 16 Library preservation volunteers working in the Cathedral library plus another four volunteers working with the rare books at Sarum College Library and another four volunteers from St Mary’s Church Gillingham who have also been working with the Gillingham parish Library books which are on deposit at Salisbury Cathedral. Everyone started in June 2018 – we don’t know for sure how long it will take to get through all 10,000 plus books! Cleaning a book - there’s more to it than you might think….
Listen to the audio clips below to hear our volunteers talking about their work with Pam Wall in the Cathedral library. (You may hear the mini vacuum cleaners in the background) Pam is also a volunteer who in particular has recorded a number of interviews with individuals who have a particularly long-standing or interesting connection with the Cathedral - these interviews are added to our oral history archive.
In the first clip Jenny Mawer talks with Pam about some of the detail of cleaning books and the pleasure she derives from being able to handle and study the books herself.