Sunday, October 16, 2011

Discussion of Tomorrow's Past at the Guild of Book Workers Standards of Excellence Seminar, 2011

Welcome to this discussion of the issues surrounding the Tomorrow's Past movement and the Bonefolder's Bind-O-Rama 2011 - Artistically Reversible: Where Conservation and Art Meet in which we invited binders and conservators to explore the movement's tenets of providing new, conservationally sound clothes to old books. For more context please see the article in The Bonefolder, Vol 7, by Charles Gledhill, the Tomorrow's Past web pages, and this post at the Riverlark blog entitled Old wine in new bottles.

This discussion on Friday, October 7 was organized by Karen Hanmer, bookbinder and book artist from Chicago, to take advantage of the presence of many interested parties at the Guild of Book Workers annual Standards of Excellence Seminar being held at Boston's Park Plaza Hotel. The discussion was started by Karen who (re)introduced Tomorrow's Past, and the concerns that were being voiced by some about its ethical implications. These concepts were also discussed by Barbara Appelbaum in her paper from the 2011 AIC annual meeting entitled Conservation in the 21th Century; Will a 20th Century Code of Ethics Suffice?

Also present were: Eric Alstrom, collections conservator at Michigan State University Library; Anna Embree of the Book Arts Program at the University of Alabama; Deborah Howe, collections conservator at Darmouth College Library; Chela Metzger, senior conservator of library collections at the Winterthur Museum; Suzy Morgan, conservator in private practice via Skype from Chicago; Nancy Nitzberg,  conservator in private practice in the Philadelphia area; James Reid_Cunningham, conservator at the Boston Athenaeum; Peter Verheyen, head of conservation and preservation at Syracuse University Library; Stephanie Wolff, conservation technician at Dartmouth College Library

These participants represent binders and conservators from variety of training and work backgrounds. We hope you will find this discussion thought provoking and welcome discussion of your comments and concerns.

Download the mp3 audio file of this discussion 

Edit 11/14/2011 Kevin Drieger on his Library Preservation 2 blog shares his thoughts continues to the discussion in a post entitled Finding the Conservator in Conservation>.
While I think the idea of the invisible conservator is impossible and wrong and should not be a goal, I also do not advocate for a conservator’s self-expression free-for-all. This issue of how much of our selves do we put in our work must always be held in thoughtful and professional tension.

The author, the binder, the seller, the conservator, and the reader are all part of the community that creates and interprets our written cultural heritage. Understanding who these various members are only helps deepen our understanding of this heritage.