The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 11, Number 4
Jun 1987


Petherbridge Replaces Banks As Director Of Columbia Program

Paul N. Banks, founding director of the Preservation and Conservation Programs at the School of Library Service, Columbia, announced in May that he would step down from the directorship June 30, in order to devote more tine to teaching, research and writing. He will continue as full-tine faculty member in the program. Since it was founded in 1981, the program has placed over 30 of its graduates in positions in major institutions.

Guy Petherbridge, whose appointment is effective July 1, will continue to teach laboratory courses on conservation techniques. (The October 1986 issue of this Newsletter has a biography of Mr. Petherbridge on p. 76.)

Canada & Britain Renew Support For Conservation

In Britain, the Museums and Galleries Commission which had been doing good work through its Conservation Unit, was wiped out some tine ago by the Crafts Council, but has been recently reinstated, according to an announcement in the March Conservation News, newsletter of the U.K. Institute for Conservation. The Conservation Unit, also reinstated, is to be headed by David Leigh, a conservator who has the confidence of his colleagues.

Both the AIC and the IIC-CG had been protesting announced plans to reduce support for museums, conservation and research in conservation in Canada to a fraction of its present level, and word came at the AIC meeting that they had not been in vain. The CCI will be able to continue its work, though it will be relocated in the government structure. A formal announcement is expected.

Witnesses Testify On Brittle Books Problem

Representative Pat Williams convened a hearing of the House Postsecondary Education Subcommittee on March 3 to consider the problem of brittle books in the nation's libraries, and to hear the recommendations of the experts on what to do about it.

Witnesses were Lynne Cheney (National Endowment for the Humanities), Vartan Gregorian (New York Public Library), Daniel Boorstin (Library of Congress), Carole Huxley (New

York State Education Department--see Sept. 1985 AN for a description of their program), Warren J. Haas (Council on Library Resources) and David C. Weber (Stanford University). According to the report in the ARL Newsletter for March 26, all but Cheney and Boorstin urged a stronger role for the federal government in preservation; and all but Huxley and Weber recommended microfilming as the best solution to the problem. (Huxley and Weber may have also recommended microfilming, but they did not neglect to describe other kinds of preservation.) All but Cheney (who is new on her job) said that government money could be put to immediate good use for preservation, because the systems are in place. Cheney said it would be premature to increase the money available until the infrastructure is more developed; for example, until there are more trained preservation administrators. (Her organization, NEH, gave almost half a million dollars last month to Columbia University for this purpose.)

The witnesses made the size of the problem clear: current estimates are that there are 76 million brittle books in this country, whose condition is attributable to the poor paper produced since 1850 or so (they did not mention the roles of air pollution and central heating, which are significant); of these 76 million books, perhaps 3.3 million titles (one copy of each book) are worth saving; the cost will be about $300 million; and more books enter the "brittle" category each year. Rep. Williams added that current spending on preservation from both private and public sources is only $12.5 million.

Become An Advanced Restorer In Three Months

Anyone may enroll; it only costs $10,000; and you get to study in Toulouse, France, in the heart of one of France's most famous historical and gourmet regions. Euro-Marketing Consultants, Inc. (500 Davis St., Ste. 600, Evanston, IL 60201, 312/864-3344) makes it all possible. Two other names appear on the advertising brochure, by implication sharing the pleasure and responsibility of introducing the brochure recipient to "the old world methods of art and antique restoration : Air France and Catala d'Oc. Here are some excerpts:

We offer a wide variety of training programs and topics allowing you to become familiar with areas usually reserved for a few experts. This program is intended for everyone: novices who want to know more about art and antiques, skilled professionals who desire to deepen their expertise, as well as those of you who intend to start a career in art restoration.

Two levels are being offered:

General level. Learn how to identify styles, materials, tools, recognize a good restoration from a bad one, a real antique from a reproduction. Learn how to estimate the value of an antique. Basic hands on training and the opportunity to carry out your own restoration. Course length: One month.

Advanced level. In-depth training in all aspects of restoration. Training on actual pieces of the French National Museums. Course length: Two months.

Three programs are being offered: Wood restoration, Graphic arts restoration and Porcelain restoration.

One wonders how much the course organizers know. They classified terra cotta, stoneware and crockery under "porcelain."

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