The History of Medicine Division (HMD) conservation program maintains NLM early books, manuscripts, and prints and photographs in a condition that allows their use for research and exhibition, while assuring their preservation for future users.
The conservation program oversees the display of original material in exhibitions and the handling of material for photography, photocopying, and scanning.
The program provides protective housing and storage for rare material, monitors environmental conditions of storage areas, and educates staff members who work with fragile documents.
Items requiring conservation are either sent out to various conservation facilities or treated in the Library's small but well-equipped conservation lab.
A microfilming program makes possible access to texts, while protecting the originals.
Treatment of a 19th-century Japanese woodcut:
Before: heavily damaged by wormholes
After: wormholes filled with Japanese paper, tinted to match color of original
Detail from Kuniyosi. Kada conducting a surgical operation. circa 1850. woodcut triptych.
Some steps in the conservation treatment of a 15th-century broadside:
1. Removal of old paper lining using a conservation chemical and a soft brush.
2. Removal of old masking tape using conservation tools and organic solvents.
3. Reduction of acidic content in the paper by bath in purified water.
4. Mending an area of paper loss using Japanese paper and a conservation adhesive.
Holly Herro, Conservation Librarian
Phone: (301) 435-7495
Fax: (301) 402-0872
History of Medicine Division
National Library of Medicine
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20894