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Tru Vue Blog: Care and Conservation of Manuscripts Conference at the Arnamagnaean Institute of the University of Copenhagen, 11-13 April 2018

Ruth Stevens ACR works as a book conservator in the South-East. Since her graduation with an MA at West Dean College in 2005 she has worked at the British Library and now has her own company, Sussex Conservation Consortium Ltd., with Ian Watson ACR.

These are her impressions of the ‘Care and Conservation of Manuscripts’ conference at the Arnamagnaean Institute of the University of Copenhagen.

I had high hopes for this conference which boasts speakers and delegates from all over the world sharing knowledge and book conservation treatments. Many of my conservator friends and colleagues have attended in the past and marked it out as a must-do conference for book conservators for catching up with the latest developments (and friends too of course!).

It is held every two years, and having missed it until now I decided to organise myself well in advance. Being a private conservator it is sometimes difficult to take time away from the bench and to fund conferences abroad, so I was thrilled to receive a grant from Icon & TruVue enabling me to fulfil this long-term goal.

Having seen around 30 lectures in three days my head was fit to burst by the end, but I saw many interesting presentations that will influence my own work.

Kimberly Kwan of the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin, presented a thoughtful and well executed treatment for a previously conserved binding that despite being sympathetic wasn’t performing well in terms of its opening. She researched flexible sewing styles and made other clever adjustments to increase access to the books’ content.

hrc10-3model.jpgModel for HRC10 showing good opening characteristics (Image credit: Harry Ransom Center, the University of Texas at Austin)

Cédric Lelièvre, a private conservator in France, delivered a thought-provoking lecture about a treatment for a concave textblock. He was able to correct this deformation by the removal of a large quantity of fine sand and grit from the ledger’s gutters, and by humidification and reworking of the textblock spine. However, this then prompted him to research sands used for blotting. His discoveries led him to reflect on the importance of such evidential detritus. He challenged us all to consider what we might remove from bindings, and to weigh up all the evidence before doing so.

bb6_avant_trait.jpg‘Délibarations municipales’ BB6, 1662-1671. Archives Municipales, Roquebrune sur Argens. Ledger before treatment (Image credit: Cédric Lelièvre)

bb6_durant_trait.jpgLedger after treatment (Image credit: Cédric Lelièvre)

The catering for the conference was exceptional: beautiful salads alongside pickled herring, hot stews and large selection of meats and cheeses. In fact everything about this conference was first rate. It makes me think of that advert for Danish Beer; it is probably the best conference in the world…that I’ve been to at least. I express my thanks to the organisers of this special conference, and to Icon and TruVue for enabling me to experience it for the first time; it is in my diary for April 2020 already!


Header image credit: Christine McNair


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