1091 Project: The Secret Lives of Conservation Labs

1091map1 Throughout the year, we often welcome individuals or groups into the Conservation Lab for a first-hand tour of what we do and how we do it. Our staff, students, and volunteer all contribute to these tours and have become adept at explaining their work and role in the lab.  We certainly enjoy when others take an interest in our work, and we consider lab tours to be an important part of our preservation outreach efforts.

LabTourOver the past several years, the number of tours we give each year has held steady at around a dozen, but the total number of people who take the tours fluctuates significantly, from as few as twenty-five to over a hundred in a given year — not bad for a community of 50,000 (more than half of which are ISU students). Our guests have included visiting scholars and lecturers, administrators, academic dignitaries, new University hires, ISU classes and clubs, local Girl Scout troops, and colleagues from other cultural heritage institutions.  As part of our community outreach efforts, we’re willing to set up an educational tour for any individuals or group who have an interest in learning about what we do.  MicroscopicExamination

Our tours vary from a 10-minute walk-through which hits on the highlights to an hour-long, in-depth tour complete with interactive demonstrations of equipment such as the board shear, ultrasonic encapsulator, microscope, and document washing sink.  We try to tailor our tours to the educational objectives of our visitors, whether they are interested in the layout and design of our space, the general function of our Library unit, the particular work we do in our hybrid lab, or the field of library and archives conservation overall.

Lab tours aren’t just important to us at ISU Library. Many institutions showcase their conservation labs through tours, including the Duke University Libraries Conservation Lab. Be sure to head over to Preservation Underground to learn more from them.


  1. Girl Scouts used to have a bookbinding badge…next time you get a group ask if they still do. It would be fun to work with a troop to learn bookbinding or some simple repairs.

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