Understanding books and paper
It is important to learn how to observe, analyse and understand materials, changes and the history of books and paper, as they co-determine treatment decisions and trajectories. Such knowledge is also essential for a critical and ethical reflection before treatment even starts. Gaining insight into degradation mechanisms , the context and the manufacture and composition of paper, leather and parchment, allows the student to assess treatment options.
From paper to books
At the beginning of the Master’s programme, emphasis lies on paper but it progressively transitions to books. There is a logical connection between these two subjects with a partial overlap in treatment techniques, though students usually opt for one or the other. In addition to dealing with more complex treatment issues, second-year students are trained to widen their perspective from a focus on treating single objects to tackling entire collections. The vastness and diversity of paper-based cultural heritage in museums, archives and libraries is an important characteristic. Achieving an ethically satisfying conservation result with minimal resources remains a major challenge for the future, and thus also for students. With an interdisciplinary and holistic approach, the specialisation aims at training the future conservators who will shape the field for the upcoming decades.
The first digitisation projects were initiated about 15 years ago. Initially, the technique was developed to share content online, giving little importance to the material aspects of collections. However, since then, experience has proved otherwise and many researchers are now interested in the materiality of book and paper. The sensory and physical values of paper heritage underlie the expertise acquired and care exhibited by the students who choose the specialisation Book and Paper.