Conservation and Preservation Services
All materials used in books and manuscripts are in danger as they are exposed to internal and external causes of deterioration. Moreover, most recent documents (e.g. modern books, audiovisual materials... etc.) are even more fragile than older ones.
Qatar National Library (QNL), a member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), specifically highlights in its mission statement the importance of preserving cultural heritage.
Qatar National Library offers the expertise of a fully trained international team and laboratories are equipeed with most recent techniques and mashines, to handle any kind of activities in the following areas:
- Preventive conservation section
- Bio deterioration analysis and treatment section
- Conservation section
- Materials analysis to support conservation actions as well as codicological studies
Regular monitoring of all relevant information about the environmental condition is one of the first steps in the implementation of preventive conservation strategy.
At QNL, we carefully monitor the temperature and the relative humidity in several ways. These data are retrieved by a computer in order to get a periodic view of the climatic condition of the air quality in all of the storage rooms and showcases.
Mold spores, bacteria and insect eggs are always in the air and the dust, around us; in variable quantities in both clean and dirty environments. So it’s very important a regular monitoring that can allows us to detect biological infestation in advance and helps us take appropriate intervention measures.
The QNL Preservation and Conservation Center is well equipped with modern devices that allow personnel to check and manage factors related to the causes of bio deterioration.
The quality of the air and the environment is regularly checked with regards to bio-contamination. This consists of checking the amount of mold spores in the air and determining the acceptable quantity of spores. An increase in this quantity indicates a change in air quality in respect to the risk of mold development.
Same care is reserved to the contamination that can come by contact. In order to do this, bioluminescence tests are used to check for bio-contamination related to the surfaces.
The staff of the conservation laboratory are fully trained and have advanced skills in various fields such as map conservation, paper and parchment conservation and bookbinding conservation. Each decision they take is carefully considered and supported by the analysis of the material of the documents as well as the quality of the modern products used for conservation treatments.
Preservation and conservation processes have developed over time and are now a worldwide task for libraries. There are mainly two kinds of deterioration that conservators have to face:
The natural deterioration process of paper and of some inks is a slow but quite irreversible process. Paper, particularly paper produced since the 19th century, yellows and becomes very brittle. Some manuscript inks can cause paper and parchment to disintegrate making the text unreadable.
Bad environmental conditions such as high temperatures, high but also very low humidity, and fluctuations in both, as well as excessive light exposure, are damaging to paper and leather bindings. Also rodents, insects, molds, and bacteria can cause documents to deteriorate very rapidly. Disasters such as floods, fires, and earthquakes can dramatically endanger collections. However, we shouldn’t underestimate the potential for slow degradation of collections caused by bad handling and inappropriate repairs.
You or your family may have some old books and documents that you wish to preserve for future generations. Here is some quick advice: never use adhesive tape, remove dust periodically and do so gently, and make sure to store your documents in an air conditioned room in a place with low risk of water leakage.
The QNL Preservation and Conservation Unit is equipped with a state-of-the-art conservation laboratory which can analyze the quality of the material of the documents.
Using non-destructive, non-invasive modern analysis techniques, information related to the material aspects of books becomes more accessible. This information is very useful to enforce preservation strategies, support conservation decision and increase knowledge related to codicological studies.
The IFLA Strategic Programme on Preservation and Conservation (PAC) was officially created during the IFLA annual conference in Nairobi in 1984 to focus efforts on issues of preservation and initiate worldwide cooperation for the preservation of library materials.
In line with its mission, since 2015, the QNL's conservation laboratory is the IFLA/PAC (Preservation and Conservation) Regional Center for the Arab Countries and the Middle East, stressing the importance of international cooperation in this field. As a PAC Center, QNL offers the expertise of a fully trained international team and conservation facilities.
Our objective is to create a professional network of collaborative assistance to improve the strategy of preservation and conservation in the Arab countries and in the region in general. Our IFLA/PAC regional center's role is to support the Arab libraries through a series of activities and initiatives to promote, disseminate and improve the practices in preservation and conservation.
• creating an international network to share information and knowledge
• supporting and assisting Arab libraries in conservation issues
• producing and publishing information materials (in Arabic and English)
• developing better disaster plan information
• organizing courses, workshops and meetings
• translating into Arabic IFLA's guidelines and documents related to preservation and conservation
Here are some documents and materials related to preservation and conservation:
- IFLA's Principles for the Care and Handling of Library Materials - English Arabic Translation
- QNL's Preservation and Conservation Center Leaflet
For further information, especially if you are in one of the countries that are covered by our PAC regional center and you are interested in our activities, please do not hesitate to contact:
Preservation and Conservation Manager,
Qatar National Library
Tel: +974 4454 8147
PO Box: 5825, Doha – Qatar
Email: [email protected]