Updating the Emory Libraries Conservation Lab

Conservation Lab before updating

In 1990, the Emory Libraries Conservation Lab occupied a modest footprint of space. It was one-third the size of our current lab, which limited the treatment possibilities. Eight years later, construction of a larger lab expanded the overall space and the conservation work.

After twenty years, our lab has been updated and refreshed again. Conservation staff members worked with Campus Services to create a new floor plan, develop more organized workflows, and establish open work spaces. We prepared for the lab update by removing old furniture and equipment. Supplies and tools were packed in translucent, plastic bins with lids as temporary yet identifiable stacked storage.

Conservation Lab before updating

Conservation equipment of similar use was positioned together on one side of the room and close to the water source, as necessary. Work benches and desks for staff were positioned together on the opposite side of the room. This helped to separate staff work areas from heavy equipment and any specialized treatment zones.

Lab prepared for floor cleaning

Once everything was re-positioned in the lab, we noticed a few areas of dim lighting. This was quickly remedied with newer, more efficient light bulbs. The floor was stripped of old wax, and the walls received a fresh coat of paint. Our visitors have commented how much brighter the lab looks with these few changes.

Updated Conservation Lab

To realize this project, Conservation staff members worked closely with Emory Libraries Administration, LITS Finance and Business Planning, Campus Services, Library Facilities Office, and multiple outside vendors. It required six months to plan, six months to implement, and a great deal of patience. After a year of working around packed conservation tools, a dismantled inventory, and ongoing needs of Emory Libraries, the last detail was completed this February.

Kim Norman, Head of Library Conservation-Emory Libraries