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I am not sure whether this is the best place to field this question but I assume Academia is a reasonable fit. If someone is interested, initially as a hobby, in the collecting, cataloguing, rebinding, and conservation of old books and manuscripts what would be the best path to pursuing those activities in a more professional venue? How do people specialize in book handling and conservation?

From a hobbyist perspective say someone collects old Scandinavian Literature over 100-200 years old and engages in the study, preservation, and cataloguing of such books for posterity (these days one may do this individually with such digital online archiving projects as Project Gutenberg and Archive.org - sometimes accompanied with OCR for easy indexing of the text online). If such a person was interested in doing that more often in some formal capacity how would they pursue that?

Does one have to study Conservation Science and obtain a degree to handle documents for institutions that have rare and antique book collections, or say for museums that need periodic restoration of books from page yellowing and foxing? Could one alternately volunteer for a library that has a rare books department and enter in from that avenue? How does anyone end up being a manuscript conservation specialist? Surely the U.S. Library of Congress has people who do such things. And what title would they typically hold?

  • This is a borderline question. I'm not sure if it's too specialized (how many people will it help?) or not. – aeismail May 29 '14 at 20:38
  • If it is a branch of Conservation Science then it should pertain to academics. Suggestions for a better Stack Exchange group to post this in are welcome. As for how many people it will help, academics is often about specialized fields of knowledge. In my mind it is the quality of such knowledge and not the number of people who know it that counts the most. In many fields only a few people could be called the world's foremost experts in a particular field (say textual criticism of Classical Greek manuscripts, for example), but I digress. – SeligkeitIstInGott May 29 '14 at 22:38
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    One of the criteria for a question to be appropriate for SE sites is that people other than the original poster should be able to benefit from the answer. (Will this question be of interest to future users of this site?) – aeismail May 29 '14 at 22:46
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Book conservation, restoration, and preservation are parts of library and information science. I suggest that you look into accredited masters programs in that field. In the US, the American Library Association is the accrediting body.

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