As the Conservation team continues to work from home, I decided to share a few ideas from our reading list. Most of these are well known, but hopefully you will find one or two new suggestions for your own CPD. There is a blend of articles and books, both technical and general, suitable for specialists and interested others. Not all of it is freely available online, but perhaps now is the time to support your local bookseller if you can!
1. The Movement of the Book Spine
Still essential reading more than thirty years since it was written, “The Movement of the Book Spine,” by Tom Conroy (Book and Paper Group Annual Volume 6, 1987) looks at the impact of linings, sewing supports and joints on the functionality of the codex. It features very useful diagrams as well as an excellent bibliography.
2. The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding
For a thorough survey of historic binding structures, The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding, by J.A. Szirmai (Ashgate, 1999) remains the exemplar for our profession. Szirmai’s study traces the development of the codex through known historic examples using diagrams, photographs and expert observation.
3. The Codex and Crafts in Late Antiquity
A more recent publication, which you should consider adding to your shopping list immediately is Georgios Boudalis’ The Codex and Crafts in Late Antiquity (Bard Graduate Center, 2018). It was published in conjunction with an exhibition at the Bard Graduate Center in New York, much of which can be studied online.
4. Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza
This book, by Adina Hoffman and Peter Cole (Nextbook/Schocken, 2011) explores the extraordinary discovery of the Cairo Genizah and the many scholars who enabled its study and eventual move to Cambridge University Library, where it is held today. This is a fascinating work, accessible enough to be read at leisure however much you may or may not know about medieval Cairo!
5. Recent Developments in the Conservation of Parchment Manuscripts
This paper is unashamedly technical! If you are a book conservator—or a paper conservator with three-dimensional leanings—you must read “Recent Developments in the Conservation of Parchment Manuscripts,” by Abigail Quandt (Book and Paper Group Annual Volume 15, 1996). It offers practical advice on consolidation, humidification and repair, with plenty of very helpful photographs to illustrate the various techniques discussed.
6. Rendering the Invisible Visible. Preventing Solvent-Induced Migration During Local Repairs on Iron Gall Ink
Another excellent technical paper is “Rendering the Invisible Visible. Preventing Solvent-Induced Migration During Local Repairs on Iron Gall Ink,” by Eliza Jacobi et al. (Journal of Paper Conservation Vol. 12, 2011). This is such a useful technique for both parchment and paper, Islamic and western collections. We use it frequently for the repair of water-sensitive substrates and media in the CB conservation lab.
7. Non invasive analysis of miniature paintings: Proposal for an analytical protocol
If you’ve ever considered material analysis you will appreciate the paper “Non invasive analysis of miniature paintings: Proposal for an analytical protocol,” by Maurizio Aceto et al. (Spectrochimica Acta Part A 91, 2012). It offers a clear introduction to some of the most readily available analytical techniques for non-invasive in situ analysis and presents a considered approach to their use in combination.
8. Working From Home Options for Conservation Labs
Finally, Duke Libraries shared this excellent blog post which should keep all of us Conservators busy if we need to rest our eyes from reading.
We hope this list offers you a little inspiration and would love to hear what you are reading too. Please tag us in your social media posts!
You can find us at:
Kristine Rose-Beers, Head of Conservation