The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 7, Number 1
Mar 1983

Project M.A.S.H. Makes Bold Claims

by Ellen McCrady

In the October issue of this Newsletter, Bob Lucas's M.A.S.H. program was described: a sequence of four three- hour-per-week courses in book restoration and binding, given through the San Francisco State University Extended Education department. Since that issue appeared, more materials about the course have been received, an announcement of the Fall 1982 class and a newsletter.

The announcement says, in part:

"A two-year program dealing with the preservation and restoration of books is being developed. It will establish BOOK PRESERVATION as a modern profession combining art and science. Its fast-growing presence will soon be felt among our libraries and private book collections much in the same manner as the surgeon's presence has been felt among our hospitals.

The program is designed to comply with the requirements set forth in Columbia University's graduate program in document conservation and preservation--another first-of-a-kind program in this country."

These statements are questionable and puzzling. Book conservation already is an established profession, although it is a very young one, so it is too late for anybody to establish it. The professional organization is the Book and Paper Group of the American Institute for Conservation, which in 1982 had 140 members. At least 66 of those members, and perhaps as many as 90 or them, are binders and book conservators. Since the profession is not large at all, not every city has a book conservator, but there are several of them in the Bay area.

As for the Columbia requirements, it is not clear whether reference was to the program's entrance or course requirements. The entrance requirements were listed in the February 1981 issue of this newsletter, and include only things like a bachelor's degree, GEE scores, personal maturity, and a portfolio of craft or artistic work. The course requirements involve three years' full time study in chemistry, bench work, administration, library courses, and conservation, with field work and an internship.

The newsletter, Project M.A.S.H. News Letter Vol. II No. 1, June, 1982, includes an article headed "Advisory Committee for Curriculum Set," which reads in part:

In conjunction with Stanford University, San Francisco State University is forming an Advisory Committee for Curriculum; SFSU Undergraduate Program of Book Restoration. Jointly chaired by Sally Buchanan and Bob Lucas, the Committee will meet during the first week of August to provide guidelines for the Book Preservation Program at SFSU.

An official of Stanford University, in response to a letter of inquiry from this Newsletter, says that while one or two individuals at Stanford had in the past encouraged Mr. Lucas to teach "good and sound repair" suitable for "libraries of small or modest size" and had agreed to serve on an advisory panel, there has never been a connection between Stanford University and the Project.

Further on in the Project M.A.S.H. News Letter, there is a paragraph of thanks to 33 donors who have contributed $9,000 to equip the classes and get them started, and to 11 others who gave a total of $400 to the Harry B. Green scholarship Fund for the students.

For further information, write to Project M.A.S.H. Office, 679 Sanchez St., San Francisco, CA 94114, or to San Francisco State University Extended Education, 1600 Holloway Ave., San Francisco, CA 94132.

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