From March to October 2013 the University Library hosted a basic conservation project for the old prints. The aim of this project was a basic conservation of the rare book collection of the Special Collections Department and the Library of the Ruusbroec Society. The books were taken from the shelves and one by one they were cleaned (dry cleaning), the damage was registered, the leather bindings were treated with a dressing and finally simple first aid procedures were executed. The project was made possible through the financial support of a private sponsor, the M.E. Belpaire Society.
During this time no fewer than 1500 old prints were treated, by a team of people from the library staff, volunteers with some experience in book restoration and students of the paper restoration course at the Artesis School in Antwerp. Marijn De Valk, independent book restorer from Middelburg (The Netherlands) was responsible for the coordination of the project. At regular intervals a news letter was published with updates on the project.
Now that the project has finished, the Special Collections maintain their efforts towards basic conservation of old prints. The department's staff and some volunteers continue with the registration of damage, cleaning the books and making book wraps. Other, more constructive or invasive procedures are not executed, unless under the supervision of a professional restorer. For more information, contact Tom Deneire or Elisabeth Zeuwts (basic conservation expert).