The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 26, Number 6
Oct 2003


Peter Waters, 73, former Conservation Officer for the Library of Congress, died June 26 of heart failure due to complications from mesothelioma. A conservation administrator, fine bookbinder, book arts and design expert, he was probably best known for his restoration efforts following major floods in Florence, Italy in 1966 and in Lisbon, Portugal the following year. As a result of knowledge gained during those experiences, he wrote "Procedures for Salvage of Water Damaged Library Materials" in 1975. The work was later translated into Spanish, French, and Japanese.

A native of Surrey, England, Waters worked for 22 years with noted English bookbinder Roger Powell. Together, they restored such rare volumes as the Book of Durrow, the Books of Dimma and Armagh, and the Lichfield Gospel (the Book of Chad).

During his tenure at the Library of Congress from 1971 to 1995, Waters inaugurated new concepts and programs relating to the conservation of the Library's extensive collection. He is credited with developing the Library's world-class, professionally trained conservation staff and a conservation internship program. Other innovations credited to Waters include the introduction of photographic conservation to the Library's preservation program and customized boxing of damaged materials to buy time for later conservation treatment.

Waters was a fellow of the International Institute for Conservation and the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, and held many consultancy positions dealing with recovery of fire and water-damaged collections.

A longer obituary appeared in the Sunday October 5, 2003 edition of the New York Times.

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