The UCLA Library Conservation Center collaborates to provide safe access to our collections and a greater understanding of the stories embedded in the life of our library materials.
Formally established in 2004 with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, our professional Conservation Center replaced the book repair unit, where commercial book repair products had been purchased and applied to circulating collection materials. With Mellon support, UCLA Library hired its first conservator and began applying the American Institute for Conservation Code of Ethics to any physical intervention in the stabilization and treatment of library and archive materials.
Library Presevation and Conservation Center staff examine, sample, analyze, document, house, and provide hands on treatment for a wide variety of paper-based circulating and non-circulating UCLA materials. All work respects structural, aesthetic, and cultural integrity of items as appropriate. We care for a wide range of materials, including circulating and reference volumes, maps, works of art on paper, rare books, archival manuscripts, and architectural drawings.
In addition, the team provides training for library staff in preservation decision-making, physical care, exhibit preparation, and materials handling. Assessment regarding preservation and housing needs is available for existing Library collections as well as those about to be acquired. Assessing condition concerns and providing condition reports for materials to be exhibited and digitized is an especially important part of our work.
Conservation Center staff provide conservation and consultation services for the UCLA Library and services at cost for other UCLA units, regional UC campuses, and non-profit institutions in southern California.
CONSERVATION TREATMENTS. Conservation treatments physically stabilize damaged or aging materials. Treatments allow continued access to circulating and non-circulating research collections, as well as prepare materials for safe exhibit and digitization. Conservation treatments apply specialized knowledge and techniques to cultural heritage, and involve understanding the physical, aesthetic, and social context of the items created during many time periods and within many cultures. Conservation treatments can be carried out on single high priority items, or carried out in batches of similar items. Treatments are always performed in consultation with curators and collection managers. Treatments include:
- stabilization and aesthetic reintegration for losses and damage to unbound paper items
- stabilization and aesthetic reintegration of losses and damage to bound materials
- humidification, flattening and cleaning of paper and photographs
- removal of old, damaging, non-functioning repairs
- consolidation of flaking or powdery media
- aqueous (i.e. water-based) treatments such as washing, de-acidifying, and lining paper
- construction of new bindings of paper, cloth, leather, or vellum
- stabilization for digitization and exhibit
- mold remediation and specialized cleaning
PROTECTIVE ENCLOSURES. Many items are put into protective enclosures as part of an ongoing program to minimize wear and damage to the collections. These include:
- encapsulations—enclosing materials completely in a protective covering meant to remain in place
- boxes—constructing custom-made boxes from sturdy and attractive materials
- portfolios—creating custom portfolios for unbound collections
SERVICES. Other services offered by the Preservation team:
- collections care consulting
- environmental monitoring
- technical analysis of materials
- security consulting
- digitization preparation
- handling practices
- exhibits consultation
- emergency collections care and advising: water, fire, mold, vermin or vandalism.
Internship Opportunities. The Conservation Center occasionally offers paid pre-program conservation assistant positions under the supervision of the senior and head conservator for those working toward admission to a formal conservation graduate program. Contact the department for application details.
Local Conservators. The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) maintains a database of conservators in every specialization including book and paper repair. Its website also has a useful page on how to choose a conservator for a collection or for individual item.
Consuela (Chela) Metzger, Head, Conservation Center
(310) 794-1566 cmetzger at library.ucla.edu
Wil Lin, Collections Conservator
(310) 794-1523 willin at library.ucla.edu