Departmental Overview

Environmental Monitoring T and RH.jpg

Temperature and Relative Humidity

Conservation Services staff monitor the environment of the libraries to ensure that our spaces do not become too hot or humid for safe collection storage. We use environmental monitors like the one featured here to take readings of temperature and relative humidity every thirty minutes. We transfer the data to a computer using a flash drive and can evaluate the data with specialized software.


Environmental Monitoring Light.jpg


We spot-check exhibit and collection storage spaces with a light monitor. Light is especially damaging to library materials, causing fading but also damage that may not always be visible, such as embrittlement of paper, cloth, and leather. The poster on the left was framed and hung on a wall for over ten years near lights emitting large amounts of ultraviolet radiation (UV). On the right is the same poster that was stored in the dark.



Exhibit Preparation

During library exhibit installations, Conservation Services staff create supports for books, paper, and artifacts; consult on case layout; digitize audio and video files for projection; and model safe handling practices. Here is an example of a plastic book cradle custom-made by Conservation.


Outreach book snake.jpg Outreach book structures.jpg


We offer training opportunities for library staff, such as a workshop for making book “snakes” to hold books open safely. An example is draped across this book.

We also teach classes for the community on topics like caring for family history and creating simple bookbinding structures. Featured here are a pamphlet and an accordion booklet from a workshop.


Internships Lord Falconbergs Heir.JPG


We are committed to training the next generation of preservation professionals. Since 2012 we have offered eight-week summer internships for emerging conservators. In addition, we routinely host graduate student interns from KU’s Museum Studies program who are interested in collections care.

For example, 2015 Ringle Conservation Intern Allison Brewer conducted a condition survey of our yellowback collections—books so named because of their distinctive yellow spines. She then treated some of the most damaged yellowbacks, including Lord Falconberg’s Heir, featured here.


Disaster Response.jpg

Disaster Preparedness and Response

Caring for collections also means preparing for the occasional roof leak or possible larger-scale event. Conservation Services has partnered with other library staff to create the Collections Emergency Response Team (CERT). Each library has a written disaster plan that is also accessible online. In addition, we have placed disaster kits in our seven libraries to keep items such as buckets, squeegees, paper and cloth towels, and rolls of plastic close at hand during response efforts. The CERT group created the “4 Cs” graphic to hand out to all KU Libraries employees to encourage them to take basic steps if they should find a water intrusion in collection storage areas.