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Institute of Book and Manuscript Conservation (IBR)

 
IBR Logo
 
The Institute of Book and Manuscript Conservation (Institut für Buch- und Handschriftenrestaurierung, IBR) of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek is an internationally renowned competency centre for the preservation of our written cultural heritage. For the past 60 years, the IBR has promoted the combination of conservation and application-oriented research in the field of techniques and materials. Within the framework of an institutional cooperation between the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek and the Technische Universität München, the IBR is responsible for instruction in the field of "Book and Paper," both in the bachelor’s program and the consecutive master’s program in "Restoration, Art Technology and Conservation Science". Moreover, the IBR is an active member of numerous national and international associations related to book and manuscript conservation.

A cracked wooden cover is reconnected by means of thin carbon sticks
A cracked wooden cover is reconnected by means of thin carbon sticks
The central mission of the IBR is the preservation of the valuable written cultural heritage of the Bavarian state owned scholarly libraries by preventive conservation and remedial conservation. The emphasis lies on the safeguarding and preservation of the unique holdings of manuscripts, incunabula, early printed books, historical maps and sheet music, as well as documents and autographs held by the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. These holdings rank among the world's most important and largest collections and therefore require a particularly high quality of conservation.
 
Further, the IBR acts as a consultant and service provider for the state owned libraries of Bavaria that hold valuable historical collections, in particular the regional state libraries and the university libraries with valuable historical collections. The IBR plans and assigns conservation projects and offers advice to the libraries in the fields of collection care, preventive conservation and emergency planning.

 
Conservation
The Institute of Book and Manuscript Conservation (IBR) is responsible for the valuable and unique collections of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek and other Bavarian libraries. Thus, the conservation projects mainly involve medieval manuscripts, incunabula, rare books, music manuscripts and historical sheet music, atlases and maps, as well as the personal documents of famous individuals. However, various objects from other cultures, e.g., palm leaf manuscripts, are treated as well. Professional conservation of these unique objects requires excellent skills and comprehensive knowledge of suitable methods of conservation and the ethics of conservation.

Consolidation of painting layer by means of sturgeon glue
Consolidation of painting layer by means of sturgeon glue
In contrast to museum objects presented in showcases, books are always subjected to a high degree of mechanical stress: A book is not only viewed from the outside, but its content, including the text and artistic design, are at the centre of interest. As a result, book conservation requires us to combine conservation with usability of the book. Moreover, different objects have been impacted by different types of damage, meaning that suitable conservation procedures need to be decided upon on a case-by-case basis.
 
In medieval book illumination, for example, different types of damage may impact the painting layer over the course of centuries. Tears, cracks or abrasion are a threat to the splendidly designed pages. The causes of these types of damage may be the painting technique, the materials, as well as external influences. To consolidate the painting layer, stability tests are first carried out under the microscope, by minimally touching the paint flakes with a very fine paint brush. If, on the one hand, the paint flakes are labile, sturgeon glue (isinglass) is applied with a brush. On the other hand, if the surface is powdery, the glue is applied in form of an aerosol.

Differentially dyed fibres form the basis for optimum paper complementation
Differentially dyed fibres form the basis for optimum paper complementation
The IBR has researched and further developed a large variety of conservation techniques for paper, parchment, as well as ink and dye damages. Thus, missing pieces in the paper can be replaced inconspicuously today. For this purpose, it is key to exactly determine both the color of the paper and the size of the missing piece to be amended. Accurate color values and precise measurements of the thickness and required dimensions of the paper to be replaced allow us to produce a perfect complement of the paper based on differentially dyed fibres.






Book pages with ink damage are laminated with acrylate-coated Japanese tissue paper
Book pages with ink damage are laminated with acrylate-coated Japanese tissue paper
A further common type of damage to manuscripts and coloured pages consists in the deterioration of the parchment or paper caused by metal ions and acids in inks and paints. Such objects are particularly vulnerable where the writing is based on iron gall ink, and where paintings are based on copper-containing pigments. The parts in question become brittle and erosion occurs, while the harmful substances keep advancing into previously undamaged areas. Since moisture would further accelerate the deterioration, we developed a method in which damaged areas are laminated with an acrylate-coated, extremely thin Japanese tissue paper. Using this method, we can both prevent further ingress of moisture and stabilize the areas in danger of being lost. Following the conservation, a digital copy of the book can be produced for further use, ensuring that the original work is protected from further mechanical stress.


Digitization
Individual cushions are produced for the digitization of jewelled bindings
Individual cushions are produced for the digitization of jewelled bindings
The close collaboration between the Institute of Book and Manuscript Conservation (IBR) and the  Munich Digitization Center (MDZ) of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek makes it possible to digitize the library's valuable collections using best conservation practices.
Not only manuscripts, but also many historical printed works or special forms of books from all over the world require special handling and care by the conservators of the IBR. At the start of a new digitization project, conservators check the condition of every single item, establishing the necessary conditions for the digitization process, for example the requirement of conservation prior to digitization.




Exhibitions
Book cradles are adjusted individually to the book and the exhibition situation
Book cradles are adjusted individually to the book and the exhibition situation
In addition, IBR conservators also determine the condition of manuscripts and printed works when selected for display in exhibitions. In order to prevent damage to occur during the exhibition, book cradles are individually designed that take into account the size of the book and the maximally allowed opening angle.
Conservators further act as couriers, ensuring safe transport to exhibition sites. They ensure that all conservation conditions are met in the location of the exhibition, such as illumination with maximally 50 lux and the optimal climatic conditions. This is necessary to protect the exhibits from any damage.





Research
Contactless infrared spectroscopy permits the examination of sensitive surfaces
Contactless infrared spectroscopy permits the examination of sensitive surfaces
The IBR maintains high standards in conservation ethics. In an effort to make the conservation process minimally invasive, sustainable and reversible whenever possible, new techniques continue to be developed, always on the basis of the latest findings from the fields of material and conservation science. As a result, the IBR constantly develops, tests and, upon positive evaluation, also applies new conservation methods. Mechanical and chemical analyses as well as artificial ageing form part of the standard methods of evaluation.
Art technological and art historical questions are also becoming increasingly important. This challenge is met by the IBR by using modern means of analysis that do not require to touch the object or to take samples. Specifically, we employ UV/Vis, infrared and Raman spectroscopy, X-ray fluorescence and polarisation microscopy to identify colorants, minerals, metals and plastics.


Education and training of conservators in the master program „Restoration, Art Technology and Conservation Science", major field of studies "Book and Paper"
The Institute of Book and Manuscript Conservation (IBR) educates and trains conservators within the framework of the major field of studies "Book and Paper" of the consecutive master’s program „Restoration, Art Technology and Conservation Science" on the basis of an institutional  cooperation between the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek and the Technische Universität München. The prerequisite for the program is a BA in the field of graphics, archival and library materials.
 
The scientific evidence-based and applied master’s program „Restoration, Art Technology and Conservation Science" at the Technische Universität München incorporates instruction in the current requirements and challenges of the profession. The close collaboration between the Technische Universität München and the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek allows students of this Germany-wide unique master’s program to benefit from both the interdisciplinary opportunities at the conservation campus of Munich and the decades of experience of the Institute of Book and Manuscript Conservation.


Membership in national and international organizations and associations
The Institute of Book and Manuscript Conservation (IBR) is an active member of numerous national and international specialised organizations and associations, e.g. the scientific advisory council at the Herzogin Anna Amalia library in Weimar, the working group “Preservation” of the German Library Association (Deutscher Bibliotheksverband, DBV), the Technical Committee 346 „Restoration of Cultural Heritage" of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), as well as of the section "Preservation and Conservation“ of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA).


Consultation service, contact
The Institute of Book and Manuscript Conservation (IBR) offers advice and consultation on the conservation of historical books. If you have questions about the conservation of old books or are interested in the master program „Restoration, Art Technology and Conservation Science” with the specialization on "Book and Paper", please feel free to contact the IBR using the  contact form of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek.