Townend Library conservation in action

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The library at Townend is one of the Trust's most important collections and a unique example of a well-to-do farmer’s library.  The books have been collected and used by many generations of the Browne family which has meant that over time quite a few of the books have been damaged.

What's wrong with the books?

The Browne’s used the books in the library frequently. Some books show the signs of wear and tear, and others are just suffering from old age. Many books have torn pages. Quite a lot of the covers of the books have damaged corners, and some have insect or mould damage. Most of these ills can be repaired in situ, here at Townend. Some books with worse damage will need to be sent away for studio conservation.

Gravity: the silent killer

In quite a lot of the books, the pages are becoming detached from the cover. This is caused simply by gravity. The hardcover books have a gap at the bottom, as the covers are slightly bigger than the pages. This means that when the book sits on the shelf, the pages are pulled down by gravity, so they rest on the shelf as well. This causes the pages to twist and turn in the binding, and it will eventually, slowly rip the pages and the cover apart.

To remedy the sagging textbloc, we can make bookshoes. These card cases fit snugly around the book, and have a raised platform in the bottom that supports the pages. Because of the design, you can’t see the shoe once the book is back on the shelf, so the library still looks like it always has done. The bookshoes can add centuries to the life of a book.

How you can help

If you would like to help us by sponsoring a bookshoe for £20, or sending a book on a holiday to the conservation studio for £250, please let us know. Or, if you would like to learn more about the books and conservation, why not come along and see the library for yourself? You could even join our volunteer team, as we are looking for more volunteers to explain the library conservation to our visitors.