Earlier this week our Librarians David and Duncan visited Harwell Document Restoration Services to check on progress with the 81 rare books that were salvaged from the Mackintosh Library during its archaeological excavation. Since these rare volumes were pulled out from the rubble of the library by the archaeologists they have been held in deep freeze by Harwell’s to arrest the further growth of mould and any further deterioration in their condition. The 81 books of course are a tiny percentage of the 10,000 or so volumes that were housed in the Mackintosh Library prior to the fire, but it is nevertheless heartening to know that at least a few of these beautiful volumes will live to see another day.
You will see from the photographs here that the volumes inevitably suffered much damage in the fire and in the intervening months before archaeological salvage could commence. Many are charred around their edges, although some of the larger volumes have in-tact text blocks internally. Most bindings are not salvageable. Several volumes show mould growth, such as Macao et Cosmage and Sights and Scenes of Fair Japan, which will need to be eradicated before they can return to our collections.
Over the next couple of weeks, David and Duncan will be undertaking a very careful analysis of the volumes, to decide which can be viably conserved, and at what level. We’ll of course keep you posted on the conservation process.