Caroline Bendix ACR
I am an accredited, freelance libraries conservator, working in situ since 1985, i.e. taking conservation to the collections and not working in my own studio. I specialise in the well-being, on-going care and conservation of printed books and bound manuscripts.
In 2019 I was humbled and delighted to be awarded the Plowden Medal for my services to the conservation of libraries.
I help my clients to understand the physical state and ongoing needs of their libraries and implement a practical and pragmatic way forward within the means and resources available. Books as objects have physical characteristics that may be of value (not always immediately apparent) and I am passionate about sharing a greater understanding of all aspects of books.
My experience in over 500 libraries and archives, dating from the C15 - C20, within the UK and further afield, gives me an unrivalled wealth of knowledge and understanding of library collections care. I believe that any library, whether significant or not, small or large, merits an appropriate level and quality of care.
I provide the following services:
- Preservation audits/surveys/reports on libraries and books, including their environment, storage, handling, salvage and display
- Preparation and implementation of plans for the long-term maintenance/conservation and use of collections
- Training for librarians and curators in library preservation awareness and any of the above
- Courses on Cleaning, and Damage Assessment for West Dean College at the British Library
- Programmes of in-situ conservation and stabilisation
- Full conservation surveys of books
- Training of volunteers to carry out in-situ conservation and condition surveys
- Online refresher training
- Advice on packing and moving libraries and the implementation thereof
- Supply of conservators trained by self to carry out in-situ conservation
- Advice on the exhibition and display of books, on and off site
- Lectures on all aspects of library conservation to a wide range of clients (in person and online)
I am the National Trust's Adviser on Libraries Conservation (external) and trainer and adviser on book conservation projects to The Arts Society (formerly NADFAS), both since 1992.
University of Glasgow Special Collections digitisation survey:
We were very pleased with the pre-digitisation survey that Caroline carried out for us. Work was carried out on schedule and presented in a format that was rich in detail but also summarised key data clearly and succinctly. Communication was good, particularly in light of the fact that the two leads in the project at our end were unfortunately unavailable during Caroline's on-site time. Caroline was resourceful in seeking answers to questions from our wider team and followed this up with a conversation with us when she had returned home to clarify and confirm some outstanding details. I wouldn't hesitate to commission work from Caroline again.
Louisa ColesHead of Conservation and Preservation, Department of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Glasgow Library
I attended Caroline’s training session at Lyme in September 2018. I found it very informative and interesting, and the subject matter was covered in great detail. The use of old books to give examples of actual damage was very useful, and it was good to have the opportunity to inspect and report on the condition of the books provided
Elaine WhitingProject volunteer, Lyme book condition assessment project
3 separate online training modules for experienced book conservation volunteers working at the National Maritime Museum, Falmouth. A lack of funding and a Covid-induced gap in working on site meant that online training in a range of techniques was the best solution. A mixture of pre-recorded films, discussion and live demonstration worked well and was felt to have been very beneficial.
Assessment of a building containing several separate library and archive collections that has been subject to leaks for many years. Valuable books have been damaged but those managing the building had not taken on board the amount of damage or staff time involved in managing the leak. The use of an external consultant added weight to the library and archive staff's requests for a better regime of buildings inspection and care to prevent leaks in future and/or to protect books in situ.
The library collection at Lacock Abbey (National Trust) has a wide range of books, dating from the C14 - C20. A co-ordinated approach between conservators, property staff and curators is required to ensure that all aspects of books are considered when making decisions about their care and use. An on-site meeting with all parties concerned resulted in a modus operandi for the future, which it is hoped will be implemented and continue over many years to come.
Quarry Bank Mill, Styal (National Trust) has a collection of books, the Workers' Library, set up by the mill owners for the use of male workers. I carried out a condition survey of all the books and a representative selection of bound archives in anticipation of increased research interest resulting from a reinterpretation of the property. Dating from late C19/C20, the books have intrinsic weaknesses requiring bespoke solutions to storage and environmental issues if they are to be used safely.