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Special Collections: MIT Libraries' Rare Books Conservation

The MIT Libraries' rare book conservation program provides comprehensive care for the rare books, unique archival resources, and other special collection materials within the MIT Libraries. The conservator and conservation technician carry out a variety of treatments in accordance with the standards for practice and professional ethics set forth by the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works. These treatments range from basic stabilization to complete visual and/or functional restoration.

Research materials found in special collections and archives often have meaning or value as artifacts in addition to their intellectual content. In many cases unique physical attributes of a book or document may add to its intellectual content by providing evidence of historical or social context. An understanding of the significance of each book or other artifact and its place in the collection must therefore inform all treatments decisions. The conservator works closely with the collection staff and archivists to set priorities for treatment. This coordinated effort ensures that MIT’s unique collections and research materials will be in usable condition and available to the MIT community and researchers for many years to come.

For more information about conservation decision-making and the treatment of special collections see "Conservation Decision-making and Ethics" in the MIT Libraries' newsletter the Bibliotech, vol.16, no.1, Spring 2004.

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Last updated September 4, 2013



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