A Launceston community group aiming to preserve a 20,000-book collection received a masterclass in book preservation from a mainland expert on Friday.
With the help of Melbourne University paper and photograph conservator Noni Zachri, 14 volunteers from the Friends of the Launceston Mechanics' Institute spent the first day of a two-day course at the UTAS Newnham campus learning the art of handling, cleaning and storing heritage books.
FOLMI president Peter Richardson said the training workshop had been made possible by a federal grant worth nearly $5000.
“In terms of its size, scope age and provenance, (this collection) is equal (in worth) or above any similar collection in the country,” Mr Richardson said.
“That was the reason for applying for the grant, to get some training in how to handle heritage materials.”
Mr Richardson said many of the books dated back to the 1800s, meaning prevention of further deterioration was crucial to maintaining the collection’s value.
“Our volunteers are learning how to make protective cases and boxes and things that will preserve the books from further damage and deterioration in the longer term but still be accessible.
“We wouldn't want to restore the books or rebind them because all of the original marks and the binding, they're all part of the historical significance of the articles, so it's more a matter of protecting that from being lost and damaged further.”
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