Willman Spawn Conservation Internship

The Library of the American Philosophical Society (APS) is seeking applicants with significant previous paper and/or book conservation experience for this year’s Willman Spawn Conservation Internship. The successful candidate will report to the APS Conservation Department and will gain practical experience in a professional conservation laboratory through conservation treatment of manuscripts, books, documents, and other graphic materials on paper, as well as environmental monitoring and rehousing of materials. The intern’s special interests and specific goals will be considered as part of the internship. The intern will also be expected to write a blog post about the internship and to give an informal talk to library staff.

Founded in 1743, the Library of the American Philosophical Society, located near Independence Hall in Philadelphia, is a leading international center for research in the history of American and European science and technology, early American history and culture, and Native American languages and cultures. The Library houses over 13 million manuscript leaves, 275,000 volumes and bound periodicals, thousands of prints and maps, and large audio, video, and digital holdings. Outstanding historical collections and subject areas include the papers of Benjamin Franklin (14,000 letters and documents); Jefferson’s holograph of the Declaration of Independence; western scientific expeditions and travel, including the original journals of Lewis and Clark; polar exploration; history of physics and 20th-century medical research.

The APS Conservation Department currently has a staff of two conservators: Head of Conservation Anne Downey, a paper conservator, and Assistant Conservator Renée Wolcott, a book conservator. An Assistant Paper Conservator will be joining the department in October. Together the conservation staff is responsible for item-level conservation of library materials, surveying the collections for conservation and preservation needs, monitoring the library environment, and preparing library materials for loan and exhibition.

This year’s internship is designed for college graduates who are now in the process of applying to graduate programs in art conservation, graduate students who are currently pursuing studies in an accredited master’s program in art conservation, and conservators who have graduated from such a program within the last 12 months. The internship may be full time or part time, and the length and start date of the internship are negotiable. The internship is temporary and will pay $16–$20 per hour based on the intern’s previous conservation experience. Pay is capped at a total of $8,786 for the internship period, and no benefits are offered with this position. Preference will be given to applicants who have previous library conservation treatment experience and can work independently with little supervision.

Applications will be accepted through August 24, 2018.

The American Philosophical Society is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Successful applicants will be asked to show proof that they legally can work in the United States.

To apply, upload CV or résumé, a cover letter explaining qualifications for and interest in the position and three references (not letters of reference, please) to http://apply.interfolio.com/52258.

Please direct any questions to Renée Wolcott, Assistant Conservator, at rwolcott@amphilsoc.org

Conservation Technician (Atlanta, GA, USA)

Emory University Woodruff Library Preservation Office

Reporting to the Conservator, the Conservation Technician performs a wide variety of repair and conservation treatments on research materials in collections in all Emory libraries. Treatments range from simple paper mends, to complex book repairs, as well as production of custom-made protective enclosures to house rare and unique items within the libraries’ collections. This position participates in training Conservation Unit student assistants and other decentralized library staff, as well as interns and volunteers.



  • Performs a range of conservation treatments for books, paper-based items, and other materials in the general and special collections of Emory Libraries -Treatments include spine repair, re-casing, rebinding, and other book repair; paper repair; construction of custom-fit protective enclosures for fragile or special items; construction of supports for exhibits; and other similar treatments -Maintains quality and quantity standards set for the Conservation Unit -Keeps and reports monthly statistics on work completed and time allocated

Equipment and Supplies:

  • Assists in maintenance of bookbinding tools and equipment, ensuring that authorized individuals use safety precautions when using tools and equipment -Assists in securing library materials and equipment, ensuring against loss or inappropriate use of the facility by unauthorized persons -Maintains the conservation facility with clean-up activities, monitoring inventory, restocking precut materials and other conservation supplies


  • Assists conservation staff in training activities of the unit -May include instructing library staff, librarians, student assistants, interns, or volunteers in the various Emory libraries -Performs collection maintenance procedures, disaster recovery, and salvage techniques in one-on-one and workshop training

Disaster Preparedness and Recovery:

  • -Assists in monitoring and preparing supplies for disaster recovery -Assists in disaster recovery operations, generally for salvage of water-damaged materials

Other Responsibilities as Needed:

  • Performs related duties as required
  • Participates in the work of Library committees -In the absence of the Conservation staff, assumes responsibility for the Conservation Unit


  • Three (3) years of preservation, conservation, bookbinding, or related experience
  • Demonstration of superior manual dexterity skills and ability to perform delicate, exacting tasks with a high level of productivity
  • Candidates will be asked to submit examples of their work and/or demonstrate certain hand skills during the interview process
  • Ability to build and sustain effective interpersonal relationships with library and campus staff, faculty and students
  • Evidence of organizational, communication, project, and time management skills; demonstrate ability to set priorities, meet deadlines, and complete tasks or projects on time, within budget, and in accordance with task/project parameters
  • Demonstrated proficiency and capabilities with personal computers, software, and library-relevant information technology applications
  • Working knowledge of standard computer office applications such as Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, or other productivity software
  • Commitment to fostering a diverse educational environment and workplace; an ability to work effectively with a diverse faculty and student population
  • Capacity to thrive in an ambiguous, future-oriented environment of a major research institution and to respond effectively to changing needs and priorities


  • Ability to work successfully in a team environment, coordinate work with others, focus on set priorities, and be flexible in an ever-changing environment
  • Experience providing preservation or bookbinding services with evidence of progressively increasing scope of skills, knowledge, and responsibility in a large academic or research institution library; evidence of successful record of leadership and ability to foster an organization-wide perspective that ensures effective stewardship of available resources.

A bachelor’s degree in a related field. Three years preservation or related experience.


  • Performs preservation services for the conservation and reformatting of library materials.
  • Maintains supplies and equipment.
  • Provides administrative support to department.
  • Requires some knowledge of preservation issues.

Please follow this link to apply for the position: https://staff-emory.icims.com/jobs/17883/conservation-technician/job

Kim Norman
Head of Library Conservation
Emory University Libraries
Atlanta, GA 30322

Pre-program Internship with stipend (Charlottesville, VA, USA)

The University of Virginia Library is pleased to offer the opportunity of a six-week internship for the summer of 2018 in their Preservation Services Department, working with the two Book Conservators on staff.  The purpose of the internship is to perform conservation treatment on a selection of plates from the “Moon Atlas” http://search.lib.virginia.edu/catalog/u6821780 and also a possible rehousing project involving the Virginia Gazette http://search.lib.virginia.edu/catalog/u3514532.

The intern will develop treatment plans in collaboration with the Book Conservators and maintain the written documentation throughout the treatment process.  Likely flat paper treatments include dry cleaning; adhesive and pressure sensitive tape removal; paper mending; and humidification and flattening. Book treatments could include board tacketing and other binding stabilization techniques. Pre-treatment photo documentation will be performed by the Library’s Digital Services Department prior to the intern’s arrival. It is expected that the intern will participate in the after-treatment photo-doc at the end of the six week internship. The intern will be required to give a presentation to library staff at the end of the internship, describing the project overall and highlighting a few specific details from the treatments.

Treatment will be performed in the UVa Library Conservation lab, a small but well-equipped facility with a 4’x6’ treatment sink, de-ionized water system, fume trunk, suction platen, and the usual tools. The treatment will be performed under the supervision of the Book Conservators for Library Collections and in consultation with Librarians from the Small Special Collections Library.

The Library is offering a $4000 stipend to support the internship. The internship can be scheduled for any consecutive six-week period between June 11, 2018 and August 24, 2018 (the Fall semester at UVA begins August 28, 2018). We will be accepting applications until the position is filled but priority will be given to applications received prior to March 9, 2018. The ideal candidate will have some prior treatment experience and be working toward a career in library conservation.

Applicants should send a resume, letter of interest and the contact information for three professional references via email to Eliza Gilligan, Book Conservator for University Library Collections at emg3b@virginia.eduApplicants must be a US citizen.

The Preservation Services Department is grateful to Margery Lee for her continued support of this internship.

45th Annual Meeting – Objects Session, Wednesday 31 May 2017, “So Delicate, yet So Strong and Versatile: The Use of Paper in Objects Conservation” presented by Paula Artal-Isbrand

Paula Artal-Isbrand, Objects Conservator at the Worcester Art Museum, presented the various ways in which she uses paper in her objects treatments. She shared some background on paper types. Asian papers typically come from the paper mulberry tree and produce long fibers (kozo) and strong paper or from the gampi tree, producing shorter fibers to make crisp and translucent papers. Mitsumata shrubs are a third source, but not part of this presentation. Western papers are more often made from cotton, linen, flax, or hemp. Paper in conservation is strong, inert, compatible with conservation materials, has excellent long-term stability, and does not pose health risks. It can also be manipulated to mimic a wide range of materials through inpainting and coating. By choosing the right coating materials, the translucency and texture can be adjusted to fit the application. These papers can also be inpainted with standard inpainting materials to match color and texture.

Beaker, Roman, 3-5th century CE, glass, 15.5 x 7.0 x 6.5 cm. Sardis archaeological site (Turkey), Inv. # AhT67.IV.130N3,before and during treatment using kozo paper saturated with B-72 acrylic consolidant (Courtesy of Sardis Archaeological Excavation, photo: Paula Artal-Isbrand)

Artal-Isbrand outlined two ways for thinking about how to use paper. First, it can be used as a restoration material. Artal-Isbrand offered several examples of how she’s used paper in this way. For example, she used acid-free matboard cut into shape for a loss repair in a fan. For archaeological glass, she toned paper kozo paper with watercolors (not with acrylics since they would create too much opacity) and impregnated the paper with Paraloid B-72, acrylic co-polymer. The toned and resin soaked fill was a perfect match for the glass and was attached with Paraloid B-72. She has made paper fills to reconstruct chain mail, for joining heavy elements of an iron helmet, for reinforcing failing solder joins for bronze armor, and for backing a Roman lead curse tablet that needed to be unrolled. These repairs were carried out using a combination of kozo paper with Paraloid B-72, and are a testament to the paper’s strength. Artal-Isbrand also described that paper can be an interlayer between an artifact and fill material to ensure reversibility and how cellulose powder can be a bulking additive for fills, and if toasted, can also impart pigment to fills.

Missyurka turban helmet, Ottoman Empire or Caucasus, 16th century, iron, 29 x 18 x 18 cm. Worcester Art Museum, 2014.102. Bequest of John A. Higgins, during and after treatment with kozo paper strips. (Courtesy of Paula Artal-Isbrand)
Missyurka turban helmet, Ottoman Empire or Caucasus, 16th century, iron, 29 x 18 x 18 cm. Worcester Art Museum, 2014.102. Bequest of John A. Higgins, before, during (using kozo paper band-aids) and after treatment. (Courtesy of Paula Artal-Isbrand)

Second, paper can also be used as a tool. It can work well as a facing for an intermediate phase of treatment. It can also serve as a barrier layer. For example, thin papers are a great barrier film for gels. Here, Artal-Isbrand mentioned that thin gampi paper can be good for this. The paper is placed between the surface and the gel, allowing for easier clean up in gel removal. Paper can be a poultice material. Artal-Isbrand uses Whatman cellulose powder, which will cling well and hold the poultice solvent. For these same reasons, shredded filter paper soaked and blended in water can be used to create a mold of another artifact. The mold should be sealed with resin (for example, Paraloid B-72) to keep it from getting damaged by water applications. If using the mold for creating a plaster fill, this step is critical.


During the question / answer period, there was a brief discussion on how shredded paper serves well for poulticing, and is better than cellulose powder or other very fine materials, because those become difficult to remove and can leave a hazy residue. So, it is important to distinguish between powder and pulp or shredded and/or ground paper. An interleaving layer can be helpful if powder is used. Also during the discussion, another example was mentioned that paper can be rolled into “worms,” impregnated with Paraloid B-72, and inserted it into losses to provide filling that is more easily removed than putties or other fillers.

45th Annual Meeting – Objects Session, June 1, “The 40 Year Old Restoration of Bruce Conner’s CHILD” by Megan Randall

In this talk, Megan Randall, Objects Fellow at the Museum of Modern Art, tells the unique treatment history of Bruce Conner’s Child from 1976 – 2016. Bruce Conner was an artist who worked across media, from collage and sculpture to painting and drawing. Created in 1959, his sculpture Child is a corpse-like figure made of casting wax and shaped by hand. He sits in a high chair and is bandaged with stocking fabric and a belt around his waist, with additional wax painted on the surface. Child was made in response to the execution of Caryl Chessman, which Conner believed to be a social injustice.

Megan structured her discussion to be a timeline of Child’s complex exhibition and treatment history and described the numerous events that resulted in the figure’s condition when she first arrived at MoMA as a fellow in 2015. The sculpture was first exhibited in 1960 and received great attention from the public. It continued to gain exposure at galleries, in Conner’s one-man show, and even in public protests against police brutality and in 1970, was acquired by MoMA. The work was treated in 1976 in which the cheeks and head needed to be stabilized and an arm mended. Then, later that year, it was exhibited at SFMOMA, where Conner was disappointed to see its state significantly worsened. At this point, there had been no direct contact between MoMA and Conner, but he referenced the Geoffrey Clements photograph of how Child was originally positioned. It was clear that the shape of the figure had been badly deformed. The full figure had slumped forward, the mouth was now closed rather than open, and the legs had lowered and were in complete contact with the chair. However, it continued to tour at Hirschhorn Museum in 1988 and then at the Whitney in 1996, where Conner saw it once more and horrified, requested that it immediately be taken off view.

After several correspondences between MoMA and Conner, with the artist’s input on what needed to be adjusted, it was decided that a treatment of Child was necessary. Much of the issues with the positioning of the body was a result of the failing handmade hardware and joints and during an unfortunate turn of events during treatment, the body fell apart. Luckily all the original material was maintained, and the challenge was in terms of its assemblage. Sadly, Conner passed away in 2008.

In 2015, Megan Randall and Associate Objects Conservator at MoMA, Roger Griffith, started the journey to restore the exhausted Child. They began with documentation of the figure including imaging, photogrammetry to observe the three-dimensional positioning, and radiography to get a sense of the joining materials and the thickness of the wax. Child had been a victim of transport, handling, and failing of structural elements between its conception in 1960-2000.e treatment aimed to return the figure and vintage nylon stocking to their original orientation and stabilize the materials, while using images from the archive and Conner’s studio as reference.

Using a Go-Pro to document the process, the conservators carefully disassembled the figure, photographing each individual section and even had a carpenter create a replica of the high chair that Child sat on so that they could build up the figure away from the original nylon and wood. Loose sections were consolidated and the wax that had deformed was readjusted with heat and pressure. The next challenge was to create an armature that would help support the weight of the wax, as this was one of the original causes of the figure’s collapse. After months of testing, Megan and Roger decided to use polycaprolactone (PCL), an orthopedic thermoplastic polyester resin. It suited this project as it is a conformable, adjustable material that can withstand travel and is long lasting. Altraform was added into the armature and 3D Light Mesh was used to support weight from above as well. These materials were also Oddy tested and deemed safe for conservation practice.

After the figure was positioned back together, Megan and Roger had to tackle the vintage nylon stockings. Luckily, most could be repositioned safely, but three pieces needed replacements, for which Roger ordered online and surprisingly, toned with coffee and tea, to obtain the distressed appearance that gave Child its haunting effect. Finally, Child was back in its original orientation and ready to be shown at the Bruce Conner Retrospective at MoMA, and then subsequently, SFMOMA and the Reina Sofia.

After treatment photographs were taken to capture the armature inside each section and several techniques were used for recording its position. Photogrammetry was captured once again to compare future sets for monitoring any potential deformations or movements and radiography was done in order to monitor if the armature moved in the future as well as if the figure shifted in any way. A custom crate was created for safe travel to its next two immediate exhibition spaces and it just returned safely to MoMA, much to the happiness of the conservators. Ultimately, Bruce Conner’s Child has a complicated and extensive history, including it falling apart, but after countless hours of testing and treatment by conservators at MoMA, the figure was returned to its intended appearance and we as visitors had the pleasure of viewing its haunting and delicate beauty.

AIC’s 45th Annual Meeting – Last Call, Get Your Papers In Before September 23rd!

There are only 2 days left to submit your specialty, joint, pre-session and workshop papers.
We would like to remind you that the final deadline is 11:59 p.m. on Friday, September 23, 2016. You still have time to submit your 500-word maximum paper abstracts, workshop proposals, and pre-session programming.
How to apply
For more information on the theme of the Annual Meeting, the different types of programing and how to submit, please visit the Annual Meeting webpage. If you are ready to submit your abstract, pre-session, or workshop proposal please follow the links below to submit directly to our online system:

  • Submit an abstract for a General, Specialty, Joint Specialty, Interest Session, or Poster presentation
  • Submit a proposal for a Pre-session presentation
  • Submit a proposal for a Workshop

For questions regarding abstracts, contact Ruth Seyler at annualmeeting@conservation-us.org.
All inquiries related to workshops must be addressed to Sarah Saetren at courses@conservation-us.org.

41st Annual Meeting – Research and Technical Studies Session, May 31, “Examination, Technical Study, and Treatment of Funerary Stelae from the Roman-Egyptian Site of Ternouthis” by Caroline Roberts, LeeAnn Barnes Gordon, and Cathy Selvius DeRoo

Caroline (Carrie) Roberts presented an interesting talk about a multi-year collaborative project that demonstrates the real impact that surveys and technical studies can have on collections. In less than two years, the authors were able to survey a collection of 200 limestone stelae, assign treatment priorities, identify the agents of deterioration, suggest environmental guidelines, carry out treatments, and develop an informed treatment protocol.
The project began with the survey of the collection of limestone stelae by then 3rd year intern LeeAnn Barnes Gordon and continued as part of Carrie Roberts’ fellowship project at the Kelsey Museum. LeeAnn and Carrie collaborated with scientists in analytical laboratories at the University of Michigan and at the Detroit institute of Arts, including co-author Cathy Selvius DeRoo. Through their hard work and successful collaborations, the authors were able to accomplish an impressive amount and significantly improve the condition and long-term preservation of this invaluable collection.
Carrie first introduced the history of this collection of funerary stelae excavated in 1935 from the Roman-Egyptian site of Terenouthis. You can find some of this info on the Kelsey website here… and here:

KM 21069: Limestone Stele of Sarapous Terenouthis, Egypt (http://www.umich.edu/~kelseydb/Exhibits/Death_on_Display/Text/stele.html)

She then spoke about the condition issues identified during the survey, which included stone delamination, surface powdering, biological staining, and peeling, darkened coatings. There were several types of salt efflorescence present including spiky salt crystals and more round gypsum like-salts. Spot tests identified chlorides and sulfates. Interestingly, research conducted into the archival holdings of the museum produced some incredibly relevant information regarding the past treatment of the pieces. A transcribed 1941 lecture by the archaeologist indicated that Duco cement was used to stabilize the stelae as they were excavated. The presence of cellulose nitrate was later confirmed using FTIR on samples of the darkened and peeling coatings.
As a result of the survey, approximately ¼ of the collection was determined to be high priority for treatment. These stelae received further study to characterize the deterioration and identify a treatment protocol. Testing was carried out using a barrage of analytical techniques including FTIR, XRF, XRD, specimen culturing and DNA analysis. The results allowed identification of soluble salts (calclacite- a calcium chloride acetate salt produced from interactions with offgasing materials + halide salts), characterization of stone properties (clay component within limestone- possibly responsible for delamination), and ID of the biological growth (black staining identified by DNA as Epicoccum nigrum of the class dothideomycetes, lichen not identified- no DNA present).
The treatment protocol that was developed through testing included:
-Consolidation of the limestone with CaLoSil (150nm particles of lime hydrate Ca(OH)2) in n-propanol. Testing was conducted using CaLoSil, Paraloid B-72, and Conservare (Ethyl silicate) consolidants. CaLoSil was most successful as it reduced powdering after 1 application without darkening stone. It is presumed to penetrate deep into the stone due to the small (nano) particle size.
-Structural stabilization using Paraloid B-72 (in 85:15 ethanol/acetone) injected into delaminating cracks. Not many of the stelae had extensive delamination but Paraloid B-72 was found to successfully stabilize cracks and areas beginning to delaminate.
-Desalination by poulticing with Arbocel paper pulp. This method was considered challenging/problematic and so the environmental controls were considered the best method of preventing future problems from soluble salts
-Coating reduction was accomplished by applying acetone followed by blotting.
-Biological staining was reduced by swabbing with ethanol; however, this was not found to be fully effective.
-Environmental parameters were set based on the equilibrium RH of the identified salts. The recommendation was to stay below 75% humidity, which is the equilibrium of halide salt and below that of calclacite (79%).
Carrie finished with some questions for future research, including: how is the CaLoSil distributed in the limestone after consolidation? What is the nature of the clay component in the limestone? What are the possibilities for reduction of the biological staining? And what is the best method for treating the stelae that had been stabilized with cyclododecane in 2009 when the collection was relocated to the current storage area.
Overall a very informative talk that hopefully will inspire similar in-depth survey and treatment projects!