Conservation of Rare Law Books 2008-2009
Books are amazingly resilient cultural artifacts – they can survive hundreds of years of use and abuse, and still retain much of their original character. That being said, books are not indestructible. Wear and tear, fluctuations in temperature and humidity, pollution, insects, rodents, and perhaps worst of all – water – incrementally degrade their condition.
Law books – even finely printed law books – were rarely created as purely aesthetic objects. These were tools to be used, references to be consulted, and writings to study. The result is that many show the aggregate effects of long ownership and its associated hazards. The collection of rare law books at Tarlton Library is no exception. The collection spans a period of more than five hundred years – our oldest imprint dates from 1476, and our most recent from only a few years ago, with the bulk of the collection dating from the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. It is a collection of which to be proud, and one worth preserving. One part of that preservation process is a regular conservation program.
Archives and Preservation at The University of Texas School of Information is ranked number one in the country. As a part of their advanced training, students are given the opportunity to conserve books out of one of the several special collections libraries on campus. This exhibit showcases the conservation work performed for Tarlton Library 2008-2009.