18 July 2018VISIT TO WELLS JULY 2018

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Wednesday 05 September 2018

Report on behalf of The Arts Society Dorset County 
Book Conservation Volunteers at Dorset County Museum

This report covers the activity of the Book Conservation Group from 1st January 2018 to 31st July 2018. The group has maintained the membership of eight ladies who have completed approximately 102 hours between January and July. This is lower than might be expected but we did have to contend with the visit of Dippy. We have had seven sessions being tutored by Frank Brown, the professional bookbinder. Five ladies have continued to become proficient at repairing glued books by taking them apart right down to page level then rebuilding them for rebinding, including as much of the original cover and spine as possible.  Once a book is back in one piece, further renovation may be needed on the gold lettering and embellishment, this being completed using very fine brushes and gold paint.
The remaining three ladies, while keeping a watch on Frank’s teaching to the other five, have continued with the repairs to The Dorset Scrapbook. Having secured the contents to the pages then the pages to the book, the end pages have been re-attached. Work has progressed sufficiently that the large, heavy volume could be stored vertically as the spine, has been strengthened and the corners repaired with new leather.
The new year started with a very proactive January but this went rapidly downhill due to the the preparations for and the arrival of Dippy. We were fortunate that on the occasions we did squeeze ourselves into the library/left luggage store we were able to witness the enthusiasm of the visitors who came to see him. The relentless stream was a joy to behold.
However, due to the lack of clear table space in the library we had to keep our activities to simple tasks such as re-attaching loose pages, tidying up page edges, repairing spines from strengthening the end caps to fashioning new ‘hinges’ where the spine was coming away from the covers. In some cases, the whole spine has to be re-attached. 
In addition to the small repairs, our attention was focussed on the very old large books which lay horizontally on the shelves for their own protection. Dusting was carried out and repairs are needed but this period was not the time to start. The group did have to miss the guidance of Frank Brown during Dippy’s residence, so it was back to dusting books and noting where repairs were necessary. As we had started on the wall of relatively new books, few were damaged. 
As volunteers, we were invited to a meeting held to explain the new amalgamation of Dorset County Museum, Poole Museum Service – who are taking the lead – Salisbury Museum and Wiltshire Museum to capitalise on shared resources plus the changes which would take place following the renovation of Dorset County Museum. The inclusion of DC Museum was made possible by it being awarded National Portfolio status giving it access to Arts Council England funding. We were informed that as soon as Dippy departed work would commence on the preparation for the massive amount of work to be undertaken. Following the meeting, the group had a discussion regarding the way ahead which was fortuitously interrupted by Jon Murden, the Curator, so we were immediately able to voice our thoughts on how we could continue to use our conservation skills though the renovations.  We are awaiting the decision on where we shall go, but in the meantime, Lavinia Barbour is kindly hosting a Frank session at her house.
Another source of poorly books has appeared. In preparing for storage of the books and collections held in the cellar, we frequently arrive to a little bundle with a note attached from Brenda Turnock, the volunteer Librarian, requesting our services. Many of these have proved very fascinating which does not help with the repairs, but we are learning much about our county.
The skills described in the previous report are still being honed and hopefully we will have the opportunity to maintain them during the works. We were all very gratified a few sessions ago when Frank told us very seriously that he considers we are now advanced renovators and bookbinders. The next challenge he has in store for us and to which we are looking forward, will be repairing sewn books. 
Nichola Lane