The Rare Books Department conserves of a wide range of bound materials to ensure the stabilization and functionality of each piece.

The Rare Books Department preserves bound materials and takes great care to ensure the structural integrity of each volume. This department treats damage to the pages, covers, spines, and bindings of early to modern books and bibles, as well as historic scrapbooks and photo albums.

The majority of treatments in this department begin with the stabilization of the book to ensure it can continue to be used safely. Stabilization includes treatments such as re-sewing the textblock, replacement hinges, and consolidation of leather or book cloth that may be delaminating from the covers and spine. 

More complex, cosmetic treatments include the fabrication of new spines and covers, the refurbishment of existing covers, and the construction of custom-made clamshell boxes and archival housing.

Treatment Gallery

Greek Codex c. 10th Century. Water Damage.

Tyndale Bible c. 1553.  Water Damage.

Family Bible c.1769.  Hard-bound ink on paper. Age-Related Damage.

Regulations of the army of The United States, C.1913. Age-Related Damage.

King James bible, 3rd Edition C. 1617.  Water Damage.

Operationes in psalmos c. 1517. Martin luther. Age-related Damage.

stories related to rare books conservation:

video: don't blink! read every single page of the 10th century codex

Late last year, The Conservation Center released a stop-motion video, detailing our meticulous examination of this surviving example of a medieval Christian text that contains the Gospels of Luke and John. Conserving such a rare volume is no easy task: it took our team more than eight months, incorporating both The Center's paper and rare books conservators in order to accomplish this project. To best illustrate the work that was done, we have once again produced a 20-second video, this time displaying the amazing result of the post-conservation treatment. Every page was photographed and compiled, allowing for an inside look at one of the oldest work to ever cross our threshold.

Saving A 10th Century Greek Codex From Water Damage

After more than three decades of preserving fine art and heirlooms at The Conservation Center, we now have an impressive answer to one of the most the frequently asked questions by our clients and visitors: “What is the oldest piece that The Center has ever conserved?” Recently, a 10th century Greek Codex—which contains portions of the New Testament Gospels of Luke and John—arrived at our conservation lab, and we, admittedly, are truly impressed. This rare book belongs to Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, a Bible-based university supported by Seventh-day Adventist Church. 

Lilias Trotter: Missionary, Artist

Isabella Lilias Trotter (1853–1928) was a gifted artist and Protestant missionary to Algeria during the Victorian Era. Born into a privileged, intellectual British family, she showed skill as an artist early in life. She also had a naturally sympathetic and nurturing soul toward those in need. The death of her father at the age of 12 would prove to be a life-altering event for her, during which she turned deeply toward prayer. In her early twenties, art critic John Ruskin encouraged her budding talent and championed her work. Although drawn toward the pursuit of a life in art, her devotion to serving God led her to surrender an artistic life of privilege and leisure. In 1888, reminiscent of Joan of Arc, Lilias claimed to be called on by God to engage in missionary work in Algeria. Facing a complex language barrier and the challenge of being a young European woman ministering in a male-dominated Muslim country, she taught the Christian faith using her appreciation of literature and artistic gift. 

Two Holocaust Journals - A Father's Impact on Children of the War


Every day at The Conservation Center, we see all kinds of art and artifacts, each with its own unique story or history; some with cultural significance, others part of a family’s heritage, and even the work of great masters. But when an item comes in that literally takes your breath away, those are moments that remind us of how important and humbling our daily tasks are, and reinforces the importance of preservation and conservation.