‘The Best Collection for Book and Paper Conservation’



The Chantry recently hosted an extended research visit from Surjit Singh, a second-year MA student from the National Museum Institute, New Delhi. In his two-month study visit to the UK, Surjit has been immersed in conservation, history of the book, and Sikh manuscripts in particular. At Chantry he has been reading extensively on paper making and intends to prepare a seminar as part of his MA course comparing South Asian and Western papermaking.


The titles he consulted included old classics by Dard Hunter as well as more recently acquired books such as Timothy Barrett’s “European Hand Papermaking” and Sylvia Albro’s “Fabriano”, both of which were acquired through donations received at the 2018 ICON Book and Paper Conference in Oxford.


Librarians do like piles of books as a sign of activity! It was great to host Surjit and provide some interesting reading matter for him. If you are interested in South Asian paper you might want to look at the subject bibliography by Oxford Conservation Consortium’s own Jasdip Singh Dhillon.


Another donation! Buildings conservation material

We are very pleased about *another* donation of material, this time of material relating to the conservation of the historic built environment.  It’s great to be able to extend our coverage in areas beyond our traditional strengths in book and paper conservation. The donation supplements our current holdings, filling out some partial series that were already present in the library, especially the “Short guides” and “Technical advice notes” produced by Historic Scotland. There are also some bilingual Welsh texts that should be interest to process. As a librarian it is always good to have fresh things to accession into the collection, and the Chantry Library is very grateful to donors who kindly enabled us to extend what we hold. Thank you! New books will be added onto SOLO (some are on already) but for now here is a quick handlist:

  1. Cadw. Renewable energy and your historic building [bilingual English and Welsh]
  2. Historic Environment Group, Climate change and the historic environment of Wales: A summary of potential impacts. [bilingual English and Welsh]
  3. Cadw. Conservation Principles: for the sustainable management of the historic environment in Wales. [bilingual English and Welsh]
  4. Historic Environment Scotland. Short Guide 13: Applied Digital Documentation in the Historic Environment.
  5. Historic Environment Scotland. Sash & Case Windows. A short guide for home owners.
  6. IHBC. CONTEXT, No 137 November 2014.
  7. ASCHB Transactions 39, 2017.
  8. ASCHB Transactions 38, 2015.
  9. Historic Environment Scotland. Short Guide 1: Fabric Improvements for Energy Efficiency in Traditional Buildings.
  10. Historic Environment Scotland. Short Guide 3: The Repair and Maintenance of War
  11. Historic Environment Scotland. Technical Advice Note 9: Stonecleaning of Granite Buildings.
  12. Historic Environment Scotland. Technical Advice Note 10: Biological Growths on Sandstone Buildings.
  13. Historic Environment Scotland. Technical Advice Note 12: Quarries of Scotland.
  14. Historic Environment Scotland. Technical Advice Note 23: Non-destructive investigation of standing structures.
  15. Historic Environment Scotland. Technical Advice Note 25: Maintenance and Repair of Cleaned Stone Buildings.
  16. Historic Environment Scotland. Short Guide 10: Thermal Imaging in the Historic
  17. Historic Environment Scotland. Short Guide 4: Maintenance and Repair Techniques for Traditional Cast Iron.
  18. Historic Environment Scotland. Short Guide 7: Scottish Traditional Brickwork.
  19. Historic Environment Scotland. Short Guide 6: Lime Mortars in Traditional Buildings.
  20. Historic Environment Scotland. Short Guide 8: Micro-renewables in the Historic
  21. Historic Environment Scotland. Short Guide 9: Maintaining your Home.

Donation of textile conservation material

The Chantry Library was recently very grateful to receive a generous donation from Nicola Gentle. This comprised conference proceedings and other matter, mainly on the conservation of textiles. As well as filling some gaps in our collection of conference proceedings (always fun for librarians to catalogue!) they also add depth to our coverage of this interesting area of conservation work. The titles are being catalogued onto SOLO, so that they can searched for there like the rest of our printed collections (choose ‘Chantry Library’ from the drop-down list), but here is a quick listing of some English titles:

  • Guidelines for Conservation of Textiles, EH 1996
  • In the Nick of Time, Museums and Galleries 1996
  • Adhesive Treatments Revisited, UKIC Textile Group 1998
  • Conservation of Leather Artifacts, Leather Conservation Centre 2000
  • Ecclesiastical Textiles, conservation issues, Council for Care of Churches 2001
  • Dress in Detail, ICON Textile Group 2007
  • Conservation of 3D Textiles, NATCC 2009
  • Joined Up Thinking, Textiles & Historic Interior, ICON Textile Group 2014 (CD)
  • Learning Curve, ICON Textile Group 2015 (CD)

There are also international conference proceedings and journal numbers (many in languages other than English), reflecting even more within the Chantry Library’s holdings the global scope and favour of the conservation profession! So a very sincere thank you to Nicola for the gift.





Chantry Library Subject Bibliographies – No. 2: Egyptian Tomb Painting by Bianca Madden


Chantry blog followers may remember a fantastic talk given by Oxford-based wall paintings conservator, Bianca Madden, on conserving Theban tomb paintings (see our post April 13 2018). We asked Bianca to contribute to our Subject Bibliographies project, and are delighted to announce that her ‘take’ on Egyptian Tomb paintings is now live on the Library website. A taster of Bianca’s introduction follows:

“The field of the conservation of Egyptian tomb paintings has, until recently, received considerably less attention and research than that of other areas of painting and wall painting conservation – this is partly due to the fact that up until the mid-20th century site-based tomb paintings were valued largely for their information, which was preserved through recording and study, and their material fate was less widely considered.”

“The books and articles suggested below cover the basic literature in the field of Egyptian paintings conservation as well as a little of the Egyptological context of the work. They pay particular attention to research and articles into the materials and techniques of construction.  The key for conservation is in understanding the materials and components of the paintings and coatings, and from that to apply conservation practice and processes on a case by case basis.”

If you’re Oxford-based, many of the works Bianca refers to are available at the Bodleian or Sackler Library.

Visit from Oxford University Museum of Natural History staff

Today the Chantry Library and OCC were very happy to host a short visit and tour for collections staff from Oxford University’s Museum of Natural History. The very friendly guests included conservation as well as library and archive staff amongst other specialisms. After being introduced to  the collections and shown round the Library by the (camera-shy) Librarian, the visitors took a few minutes to browse enthusiastically round our collections.

Jane Eagan then talked to them about the conservation work that goes on at OCC more generally – rudely interrupted for a quick photo-call!


The museum staff were then taken on a tour of the conservation studio, where OCC conservators gave them a taste of some of the projects currently being undertaken.

By a lucky coincidence some of the current projects involved material with a natural history dimension, including one with biological specimens. Common themes – such as the use of Japanese paper or tissue in different areas of conservation work – soon cropped up.

IMG_1268It was a great pleasure to host such an informed and interested group, and various of us at OCC look forward to a return visit to the Museum.




IIC News in Conservation

IIC have launched a new interactive format for their News in Conservation. See page 14 for a feature on the history of ICCROM’s conservation library. Velios and St John outline the linked conservation data and terminology project on p.22, and Georgios Boudalis’ Codex and Crafts, recently purchased for the Chantry collection, is reviewed on p.33.


Midlands Conservators Group visit 21st March

Last Thursday the Chantry Library and Oxford Conservation Consortium hosted the Midlands Conservators Group Meeting in Oxford. The first talk was given by Edward Adcock of the Bodleian Libraries’ Packaging & Delivery Service (PADS). OCC’s own Katerina Powell and Maria Kalligerou then gave a presentation on the Magdalen College Greek Manuscript Project. The conservators were taken on a tour of the OCC studio.

MCG Visit 21 March for blog 2.JPG
Midlands Conservators being shown round the OCC studio
MCG Visit 21 March for blog.jpg
Visit to the Chantry Library

This included a short visit to the Chantry Library, where we were very pleased to welcome them even if it was a bit of a crush! A small display of new books – plus some about Greek manuscript conservation – had been put out for the conservators to have a look at. The meeting concluded after lunch with a tour of the rather larger library at Christ Church. We hope the conservators had a lovely day in Oxford!

Ben Arnold

Chantry Librarian

Maria Borg – a conservation student working in the Chantry


As part of my postgraduate studies at West Dean College in West Sussex, UK, I have had the wonderful opportunity of doing my work placement at the Oxford Conservation Consortium between January and February 2019. The focus of my placement was the cleaning, re-housing and repair techniques on parchment. Apart from the practical work and the numerous external visits to different libraries and archives in Oxford, one of the best aspects of my placement was having access to the Chantry Library.

For a student such as myself, the library provides an inviting and comfortable space where I was able to consolidate my learning in the studio. I was able to learn more about a variety of materials and objects such parchment and seals, as well as read about interesting conservation topics, including preventive conservation and condition surveys. The variety of resources at the library were also very helpful for me to finish course work related to my studies, including research for a science report.


The library is up-to-date with the latest publications and resources, which makes it an exceptional resource for students, conservators and other professionals in the field. Personally, it was a remarkable experience as I was able to carry out my ongoing research and build on the knowledge and experience I was acquiring within the studio. Having a well-resourced library which is close to a conservation studio is a great benefit, and it has motivated me to create more awareness about the importance of making libraries accessible to conservators and students. I highly recommend making a trip or visiting the library; I look forward to visiting the library again already!

Written by Maria Borg