The Chantry Library is named after artist and conservator Judith Chantry (1943-1999), who began her career as a children’s librarian in Sheffield after gaining her librarianship qualification. Judith soon followed her love of art, moving to London to train as a paper conservator, and becoming one of the first conservation students at Camberwell College of Art and Craft in the 1970s. Judith then started work at the Department of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum, and moved from there to the Prints and Drawings collection of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, where she worked happily for the next twenty-four years.
Meanwhile, a small library about conservation was created at the India Office with practitioners in mind, and became part of the Institute of Paper Conservation, the leading organisation devoted solely to the conservation and preservation of paper, books, and related materials. The library moved to the Ashmolean Museum, housed in Judith’s small conservation studio. When Judith died in 1999, the library was boxed up and came to the Oxford Conservation Consortium, with a significant endowment from the Chantry family.
In a tribute written after Judith’s death, Nancy Bell writes the following in The Quarterly, 32, December 1999:
“During her time at the Ashmolean, Judith remained committed to the need for good training. She acted as unofficial ambassador for paper conservation courses, for many years supporting work placements and internships for students now working in museums, libraries and galleries around the world.”
What better memorial could Judith Chantry have than this professional library, containing unique material and of great practical use, to continue her ambassadorial work for conservation in her beloved Oxford?