Recap: ECPN's Digital Tips and Tools for Conservators

Back in June we posted a series of tips to the ECPN Facebook page. Now that school is back in full swing we thought we’d post a reminder. We hope you enjoyed this collection of digital resources! Feel free to contribute your own tips in the comments below.
1: Zotero Bibliography management tool (
Zotero allows you to make bibliographies easily and keep track of abstracts (it pulls them directly from some sources) or your own notes. It also helps you to keep track of artworks from museum collections, and you can keep all the relevant information (catalog information, dimensions, conservation history notes) in one place. Zotero is free and if you install it as a plug-in to your preferred internet browser you just click and –ta da!– it magically saves all the bibliographic information for you. You can share collected references and notes with other Zotero users through groups as well.
Image 1: Desktop Zotero application.
Image 2: Saving an artwork from a museum’s online catalogue using Zotero on an internet browser (Firefox or Chrome).
2: Compound Interest has lots of infographics ( which are great references for chemistry topics. The site has lots of good information on analytical techniques as well as fun chemistry facts and a weekly roundup of chemistry news. Print materials out for your lab!
Some examples of particular interest to conservators:

3: With Inkpad Pro or other vector drawing apps, you can make diagrams for condition mapping, mounts, and packing. These apps are generally far less expensive than the PC-based programs they emulate, like Illustrator or Photoshop, and range from free to a few dollars. You can use a stylus on your iPad to trace from photographs and annotate. There are lots of color, line weight, and arrow options, and it’s easy to do overlays. Since the iPad is also smaller and more portable, you can do your condition mapping in the gallery or during installations as well. You can export your final drawings as PDFs and share them through Dropbox or email.
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Images 3-6: Creating a vector drawing and condition map from a photograph using the iPad app InkPad Pro.
4: Podcasts
We’d like to highlight one of our favorite podcasts, “Chemistry in its Element” by the Royal Society of Chemistry. There are short episodes about all sorts of interesting chemical compounds. Of particular interest to conservators are podcasts on mauveine, carminic acid, citric acid, calcium hydroxide, goethite, vermillion, and PVC, for example. Episodes are about 5 minutes long each.
5: RSS feeds for Cultural Heritage Blogs
Using an RSS feed can help you keep tabs on conservation news reported on blogs. We recommend Old Reader, a free replacement for Google Reader (, to keep track of the many conservation blogs. AIC has a blogroll list that can help you find conservation blogs: look to the right sidebar here on Conservators Converse.
There are too many great blogs to name, but one favorite is the Penn Museum’s “In the Artifact Lab” (, which is frequently updated with great photos and stories about conservation treatments underway. Another one you might like is Things Organized Neatly (– not strictly speaking a conservation blog, but definitely has some appeal for conservators!
Feel free to add your favorites tips and tools below in the comments!
All images courtesy of Jessica Walthew, Professional Education & Training Officer, Emerging Conservation Professionals Network (ECPN).