THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Collection Care blog

About this blog

Have you ever wondered what the St Cuthbert Gospel looks like in an X-ray, which paper Jane Austen chose for her manuscripts, or what raw materials were used in the manufacture of Ming Dynasty paper money? Have you ever thought how we ensure our digital collections persist over time, about the risks facing digital collection content, and what can be done to mitigate them?

This blog will give you a behind-the-scenes look at how we care for our core collections, both physical and digital, and allow us to share the exciting projects we work on, from world-renowned treasures such as the Lindisfarne Gospels and Magna Carta to our digital eBook collection.

Collection Care comprises four departments: Conservation, Conservation Science and Research, Preventive Conservation, and Digital Preservation. Our science team will show you how we uncover hidden and erased text from ancient manuscripts using multispectral imaging, and how we distinguish inks and pigments using spectroscopy and X-ray fluorescence; our conservators will share how they conserve and protect fragile and vulnerable items, making them once again accessible through our Reading Rooms and exhibition galleries; our preventive conservators will provide an insight into their pivotal role in safeguarding the Library’s collections as a whole, including environmental monitoring and  pest management; and our digital preservation team will tell you about a broad range of activities to ensure our digital collections persist in an authentic fashion over the very long term despite their dependence on an ever-changing technical environment.

All text is © British Library Board and is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence, except where otherwise stated.