Category Archives: conservation

The Society of Archivists Certificate in Archive Conservation: an introduction

The conservation strand of this year’s conference has been particularly strong. In particular, it was really interesting to hear from some of the current trainees on the Society’s conservation training programme.

Not only is it a good opportunity for us to hear about what techniques, tools and methods are being used in a wide range of workshops, it highlights the importance of passing on these skills and the roles played by trainees and instructors in an active office.

The scheme has been going on for 35 years now and survives on the goodwill and voluntary nature of the participant instructors. The course provides 1-2-1 specialist instruction and prepares conservator trainees for the demands of a multo-disciplinary profession.

Following an overview of the history of the certificate and how the programme is run we heard case studies from 3 of the current trainees.

Claire Armstrong (Nottinghamshire Archives) began by describing a paper repair project she’d recently completed using many of the skills she’d acquired from the training she’s received so far. As well as describing the work she’s undertaken Claire also highlighted the reasoning and discussion that precedes any repair work and continues to support the decision-making process as a repair is made. Claire also discussed the need to evaluate practical concerns, such as balancing limited time and budget, as well as ethical considerations, for instance; whether or not to replace a lost marbled cover on a stationery binding.

Rowenna Jones (Gwynedd Archives Service) provided a run-down of her work on a parchment document and, again, the skills and techniques she’s gathered during the traineeship. Rowenna focused on the three main subjects of documentation, tools and storage, as well as describing the skills and materials that had been involved in the repair.

Katie Jordan (West Yorkshire Archive Service) reported that she’s recently attended a placement with instructor, Jeff Cargill (Hertfordshire Archive & Local Studies) to learn skills associated with the repair of seals. Katie gave a brief resume of a project she’s been preparing for her portfolio which has a significant number of applied seals. She explained the decisions she’d taken to repair the damaged shellac seals and then described the 2 conservation treatments she had used to consolidate and stabilise the seals. Katie also commented on the pros and cons of each method and the range of tools she’d found useful.

As a trainee myself, this morning was particularly informative and it was great to hear from other trainees what they were gaining from the process and what they were putting into practice.

Catherine Dand (Borthwick Institute, University of York)

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