Team Work Makes the Dream Work: My Experience at Durham University

By Amber Russell

Becoming a book conservator isn’t easy. Finding a program that will teach you the necessary skills and techniques is difficult enough, then you have to find a job. That’s normally when a post graduate work placement comes into play. Work placement is like a mini-internship, you will generally end up emailing every conservation lab, library, university, or museum you know and ask them, in a politely begging tone, to let you come and do volunteer work with them for a handful of weeks. If you’re very lucky and find someone kind enough to say yes then you get the opportunity to walk into a conservation lab as a volunteer conservator complete with responsibilities and goals and a few projects on your desk, and you do your very best not to blow it. Like I said: not easy. But if you’re very, very lucky you get to work in one of the most incredible settings in the world, with a collection people only dream of, and with a amazing team of not just conservators, but archivists, librarians, and the various staff that keep a collection available to the public. It just so happens, I am very, very lucky, because I was able to spend my work placement at Durham University.

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Book of Transumpt: conservation completed

A post by Conservator Fiona Butterfield

I recently completed conservation treatment of a Book of Transumpt (1529-1553) that was started pre-pandemic.  The Book of Transumpt (B of T) is a large volume of more than 700 pages each approx 320mm h x 220mm w.  It is hand-inscribed (in Latin) in iron gall ink.  The pages were bound in a limp vellum binding.  It comprised 18 sections made up from 35 sub-sections.  In the original binding sections were predominantly sewn with linen thread and then attached to the binding with parchment tackets.

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Oddy Testing in Conservation

I’m Susan Hull, Graduate Intern in Book Conservation at Palace Green Library. I have been working with Katie Brew, Assistant Conservator, investigating the materials we use for long term storage of our collections.

Recently we received items packaged in unidentified materials. This is a cause of concern; the rate of deterioration of an archival object can increase by way of the substances surrounding it, including packaging. Unsuitable packaging can expose paper archives to volatile substances, which migrate to the object and ultimately contribute to its degradation.

To assess the materials suitability for long term storage, we contacted Archaeological Conservator Vicky Garlick who runs Oddy testing in the Dawson building, for the students of the Conservation of Archaeological and Museum Objects MA.

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Bishop Tunstall: The man who survived the Tudors by calculating the odds

On the International Day of Mathematics, a post by Dr Elizabeth Biggs (Trinity College Dublin/TNA Postdoctoral Research Fellow) Dr Danielle Westerhof (Rare Books Librarian) and Gemma Lewis (Castle Curator).

How many of us who have lived, worked or explored Durham Castle have ever heard about the man who built the Tunstall Gallery and Chapel?

Cuthbert Tunstall (1474-1559), bishop of Durham from 1530 until his death, was a survivor.

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Romanesque bindings

A post by Assistant Curator Katie Brew

I have recently been fortunate to attend a five day Romanesque binding course with experienced bookbinder and conservator Arthur Green. It was a largely practical course, attended to gain a deeper understanding of this particular binding style and its construction – to improve my own skills and directly inform the conservation of the early medieval bindings we have here in Special Collections.

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