Atelier for Restoration and Conservation

The Atelier for Restoration and Conservation of Rare Books (ARCRB) attached to the Center for Historical Social Science Literature was established in 1995, after launching the Carl Menger Collection Microfilming, Catalog Revising and Conservation Program in 1993.
As a result of some hundreds of years of publishing, the material and binding structure of the various rare materials conserved in the CHSSL collections differ considerably, as do the degree of damage and the condition of the materials. Individual diagnosis and treatment are thus necessary for each item. The ARCRB attached to the CHSSL is a very efficient way of running a conservation program independent of external factors. The mission of the ARCRB is not limited to that prescribed in the long-term plan, but also involves the immediate treatment of damage suffered during use of the materials at the CHSSL.

No other national university corporation in Japan has been provided with the level of facilities and technology that exist at the ARCRB. The conservation of library materials is a matter of urgency on the global level, and the activities of the ARCRB are highly regarded and draw many visitors from both domestic and foreign libraries. The accumulated experience and technical level of the ARCRB make it possible to hold courses on the conservation of Western historical social science literature for librarians from around Japan, a social contribution that has raised the public estimate of the CHSSL.

The ARCRB is run with the financial support of the Hitotsubashi University Koenkai (Supporting Foundation). This support has continued since the ARCRB was established, and the cooperative relationship between the University and the Koenkai for supporting the conservation of library materials and the development of the education and research environment is one of the characteristics of the University.

Process of restoration and conservation

1. Damage survey

After each book has been cleaned, a diagnostic record is made. Its height, width and thickness are measured with a measuring instrument, and its structure, materials and condition are entered into the record. These data enable a decision to be made about the urgency of restoration and the procedures to be used, an important step in determining the condition of every book and establishing the basic policy for its restoration and conservation.

2. Conservation

Low-temperature cleaning

Newly received books are subjected to a low-temperature cleaning procedure against insects. Packed books are placed in a special large freezer and left for a week at around -40oC.

Restoration of paper

To restore paper, shofu-nori, or wheat-starch paste, and Japanese paper are used. The paper is chosen according to the thickness of the book’s paper and its condition.

Dressing leather

A book whose covers are damaged is given a leather conservation dressing: after filling in the surface with cellulose, a leather dressing and acrylic polymers are applied. This treatment improves the durability of the leather and helps prevent damage from progressing.

Making conservation containers

A book whose covers are damaged or have been varnished by a leather conservation dressing is covered with an acid-free jacket. A book which is seriously damaged or is difficult to repair is placed in a conservation box or an envelope-style folder made according to its size, after being given a jacket

Conservation binding

Materials without covers and books temporarily bound in paper and difficult to handle are given a simple binding. Materials held by staples have the staples removed. Conservation binding allows the easy separation of cover and text for a different form of conservation in the future.

3. Registering diagnostic cards

After these procedures the details on the diagnostic card (survey and treatment) are input into the computer. The diagnostic card is not only a record of a book, but also provides data to analyze the likelihood of further damage and to consider further special treatment and conservation procedures. In addition to the work described here, the Atelier for Restoration and Conservation of Rare Books also carries out other conservation procedures with the guidance of specialists in binding and restoration.

4. Looking after the library environment

It is essential to keep the library environment in a proper condition to prevent important materials from being damaged over the long term. Rare materials conserved in the CHSSL are all shelved on closed stacks on the second and third floors. The stacks are cleaned once a month, which also provides the opportunity for a regular visual inspection. In addition to vacuuming the floors the stacks are wiped as necessary and the materials checked for biological damage caused by mold or insects. During repair work done in 2005 windows were filled to eliminate influence from the outside, and floor mats were removed to prevent dust and insect damage. Thermo-hygrographs installed on each floor help us prevent sudden changes in the library environment.

Anti-UV measures

Covering ordinary fluorescent lights with anti-UV tubes prevents damage from the UV radiation emitted by fluorescent lighting.

Anti-earthquake measures

Anti-fall bars on the upper shelves of each stack minimize damage when an earthquake occurs.

Tricks for better shelving

Thicker acid-free boards laid on steel bookshelves help in humidity control and as anti-slip measures.

To prevent damage caused by packing shelves too tightly, filler boxes are put at the ends of bookshelves. Quantities of envelope-type folders and thin materials are put into folder boxes.

Large books are put on their side in order to prevent them from sagging under their own weight. Acid-free mats made for large books straddle two adjoining bookshelves.