REFECTORY LIBRARY DURHAM CATHEDRAL
Cleaning the Books
In the summer of 2003, mould was found on some of the books & music manuscripts. Volunteers were needed to deal with the problem. Initially members of two societies were involved. Now two of our members go to the cathedral once a week, from 10am – 4pm, with tea and lunch breaks! This is how two of the Volunteers describe their experiences:
“We remove all the books from the shelves section by section and then clean them using shaving brushes to remove the dust and mould which is drawn into small museum vacuum cleaners. If mould is found we wipe the outside, only leather bound, with cotton wool dampened with IMS (industrial methylated spirit). The books are then left for one week, after which we apply leather dressing which is left on for another week & then polished off. The shelves are cleaned with neat Dettol and after drying for a week, the books are returned.
Two years ago the roof of the library was renewed. The books were covered with polythene and a false ceiling erected, but dust managed to fall onto the books we had already cleaned. At the moment we are brushing again the outside of those books.
While the roof was being renewed we made boxes & display stands from whole sheets of acid free card, in another room in the library. The Conservator of the University taught us how to make the boxes.
During the autumn, the cleaning of more than 10,000 volumes was completed, having taken us six years.We have also started work on a conservation survey, which includes describing and recording the condition of the binding and text block, noting damage such as insect holes or water stains”.