Core Conservation

Bound Volumes

Examples of bound volumes in LHSA collections range from published books to annual reports, patient registers and ward journals. The 1999-2000 National Preservation Office Preservation Assessment Survey indicated that the bound volumes were in particularly poor condition. The damage sustained includes degradation of and/or abrasion to the leather cover, warping or detaching of the boards and spine, mould damage and/or disintegration of the textblock (the pages). Damage may affect one or two volumes or all of a given series. Even where deterioration is relatively limited, for example partial degradation of a leather binding, access can be problematic without causing further damage or transfer of dirt. In extreme cases, the damage may restrict access to the informational content of the volume.

Volumes have been prioritised for treatment according to condition, importance, and current and anticipated usage. Although work is largely undertaken by a commercial company specialising in the re-binding of books, extensive preparation and subsequent quality checking on completion is required in-house. All work is documented and carried out to the highest standards demanded by the LHSA Preservation and Conservation Policy.  

Wherever the condition of the item and the available funding allow, treatment ensures that damage to the textblock is addressed and as much of the original binding is repaired and retained as possible. For example, tears to the textblock were repaired, the spine was re-attached and the damaged corners consolidated for Volume 1 of the Physician’s Record dating from 1849-50 (LHB7/50/1, see links above for before and after pictures).    

Where the quantity of volumes to be treated is coupled with limited funds, treatment concentrates on repair to the textblock and replacement of the original case (i.e. front and back boards and spine). As much of the original binding is retained as possible by transferring endpapers, original labels and title pieces to the new binding. The composition of the new case is carefully selected to reflect something of the character of the original, or to visually replicate the appearance of volumes in similar or related series within LHSA collections. A sample of the original case is retained for reference. Examples of this treatment approach include the General Registers of Patients of the Royal infirmary of Edinburgh and the Royal Edinburgh Hospital (REH), and the Royal Maternity Hospital Register of Births.   

Treated volumes are provided with boxes wherever possible, for example the REH press cuttings books. The press cuttings themselves were repaired and re-bound and a cloth-covered solander box produced for storage.    

A significant amount of re-binding and repair work has been carried out on important bound LHSA collections. This work has meant that these items continue to be accessible for research and have been stabilised in order to secure their long-term preservation. A considerable number of volumes in the collection continue to require treatment however, and a comprehensive list has been compiled of all damaged bound volumes held in order to direct further re-binding work.