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Re: [BKARTS] Conservation/restoration (How to get in to)

Since no one else has responded publicly, here goes.

I first became interested in the field while a work-study student at Johns
Hopkins, which at that time had a very well developed apprentice training
program (long since gone) directed by John Dean. Through John's mentorship,
I was encourage to consider the field as a career and introduced to others.
After an internship at a museum conservation lab in Germany I chose to
apply for a formal apprenticeship in hand bookbinding in Germany which I
completed in two years followed by four months of book conservation studies
at the Centro del bel Libro in Ascona, Switzerland, after which I returned
to the US working first with conservators in private practice then in
institutions. I got my MLS late in the game. and it helped my career, but
not in the way I hoped.

What advice would I give someone wanting to get in the conservation field
now? Apprenticeship is not a readily available option for people in the US.
The opportunities just aren't there. My apprenticeship experience did
provide me with were the skills to complete most routine tasks efficiently,
to problem solve efficiently, and how to work with different materials and
structures. Following that apprenticeship there is still much to be
learned, from working with others, in workshops, and self-study...

If one truly wants to be a conservator, and have the flexiblity to move up
a career ladder and make money I see only one option.

1. Take chemistry... in college (or afterwards for college credit)
2. Be mobile. You have to be able to move and live like an itinerant for
about 5 years.
3. Apply to the UT Austin program in conservation studies and learn as much
theory as possible, learn how libraries work, ... Do as much binding as you
possibly can. Do an internship in a good lab.
4. Go to North Bennet Street School in Boston to continue building your
bench skills and learn more about binding.
5. Work with other experience conservators and do as much bench work in a
production setting as possible. Repetition is key.

Why this approach?

1. Most jobs are in libraries, and private studios tend to be 1 person
operations. (Libraries offer good benefits, support for training, ...)
2. To advance beyond the technician level you need that Texas degree. For
better, or worse, that's the way it is. Apprenticeship in the classic sense
is extinct.
3. The programs won't give you enough bench experience to make you be truly
proficient. You need to learn from other's experiences, see other work
environments, learn to develop the judgement needed to work independently.

My thoughts. I'm not trying to be discouraging. I know some will disagree
vehemently. Times have changed since I became interested in the field
(1981) and many opportunities that once existed no longer do.


Hello List,
after all this discussion about book repair and conservation, i'd like to
ask all of you who are in this field how you got into it in the first
place.  Where does one go to learn the skills necessary?  i'm currently
getting a masters in Library Sciences, but i doubt that they actually
teach book restoration.  Am i going to have to find someone to apprentice
for? And if so, how does one go about finding a person to apprentice
for?  Any information would be greatly appreciated.



Peter D. Verheyen
Bookbinder & Conservator
The Book Arts Web & Book_Arts-L Listserv

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