From its humble beginnings as a wooden double tablet (dyptich) in the Roman world, the books has been the backbone of civilization. It has accompanied us down the centuries with learning, consolation and joy.
Books are objects of use and abuse, love and neglect. Contrary to computers they crash slowly. But there comes a point that they cannot be used any longer, it has become a sad appearance and needs consolation itself.
We conserve books with respect to their past. The main objective is to keep what is there and to make it functioning again in such a way that it is safe to handle and read. Conservation treatments are dependent on the damage, size and future intended use of the book.
Finally we must consider what pleasantness of teaching there is in books, how easy, how secret!
How safely we lay bare the poverty of human ignorance to books without feeling any shame!
They are masters who instruct us without rod or ferrule, without angry words, without clothes or money.
If you come to them they are not asleep;
if you ask and enquire of them, they do not withdraw;
they do not chide if you make mistakes;
they do not laugh at you if you are ignorant.
Richard de Bury, ‘Philobiblon, I:9 [Book completed in 1345]
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