Conservation, Restoration and Digitization of Macedonia

Skills exchange between the national libraries of Macedonia and Slovenia was realized at the end of March 2018. Two colleagues from Macedonia visited the National Library of Slovenia for face to face mentoring at the Conservation and Restoration Centre and Digitization Centre.

The following report was received from Zorica Jakovleska Spirovska, MA, Senior Conservator on the expert visit of the National and University Library of the Republic of Slovenia in Ljubljana which took place from 26th to 30th March 2018.

A team of two experts from St Clement of Ohrid National and University Library, Skopje, (NUL, Skopje), Zorica Jakovleska Spirovska, senior conservator, and Nita Mucha, a librarian at the Digitization Center realized professional stay at the National and University Library of the Republic of Slovenia in Ljubljana, (NUL, Ljubljana). The purpose of the stay was to get closer knowledge of how the work in the Center for Conservation and Restoration and Digitization Center at this library is organized, to acquire information about best practices and share experiences with the colleagues.

On the first day of the short stay Zhiga Cerkvenik, the colleague from the department for international cooperation from NUL, Ljubljana, organized a guided tour of the library building for Zorica and Nita and they were acquainted with the history and architectural features of the library building as well as with its well-known architect Jože Plečnik. Also, basic information about the library organization, its functions, services for users and current projects were given to them.

The following day, Marian Rupert, the head of the Collection of handwritten, old and rare library materials, made a brief introduction on this important collection, the funds it possesses with special emphasis on the most valuable samples. Then, he gave a more detailed presentation on the activities they are engaged with and the conditions under which the users may use the funds. He also showed them the storage place where these materials are kept in strictly controlled ambient conditions. The head of the Information Center, Srecko Bonchina, gave a short intro to the services that are offered to the users, the terms and conditions under which they can be used, the possibilities for individual and group trainings of users, and also, he made a presentation of Mrežnik, a portal that contains more than 200 selected information resources designed to search for scientific, technical, and study literature. The colleagues from the Customer Services section explained their way of work, the conditions for using and reproducing the library holdings as well as the organization and functioning of the reading rooms.

The Conservation and Preservation Center of the NUL, Ljubljana is located outside of the library in a new building. There they met with Andreja Kozek, the head of the Center, who firstly presented the department for bookbinding where Zorica and Nita exchanged experiences about the materials and tools that are used in this process, the bookbinding procedures of the valuable handwritten and old printed materials as well as the production of folders and boxes used for preventive protection of materials.

The second segment of the Center is the Laboratory for Conservation and Restoration where the team spent three days of the professional stay. The time was used for discussion and face to face mentoring and sharing experiences regarding the organization of the work at the Laboratory and the equipment and materials which they use. At the beginning, knowledge was exchanged about the documentation as the first phase of the protection process, after which the colleagues made comparison between the legal regulations that apply to this issue. Afterwards, the processes of preparation of the materials, such as dry and wet cleaning, bleaching and stain removing, were reviewed as well as the experience of using certain chemicals, accompanying tools and equipment. Zorica Jakovleska Spirovska presented her experience in the process of disinfection from biologically damaged library materials by anoxia as opposed to the use of chemical disinfectants. New trends in the restoration of paper and parchment materials and their tendency for minimal interventions in the original materials as well as the application of traditional methods for restoration of materials such as manual procedures and leaf casting were discussed with the restorers Andrei Stolpha and Meta Kojz. They presented the new procedure for the restoration of transparent materials and parchment.

Jasna Malesic, the coordinator of the project for mass deacidification of library funds elaborated the project in the framework of which 5000 library units from the Slovenian National Library are treated each year. At the same time, she explained the procedure for deacidification of individual materials within the Conservation Center and the Research Laboratory for testing of physical and chemical properties of the paper and its constituents, the effectiveness of the treatment of deacidification, etc. Afterwards a brief presentation of the depots was made, where about 80% of the library’s holdings are kept, which due to lack of space are located in the new library facility.

Zorica Jakovlevska Spirovska realized a brief meeting with Irena Sesek, the head of the Acquisition and Resource Management Department while Nita Mucha had a meeting with Mojca Šavnik, the head of the Digital Libray Management Department. She was introduced with the activities of this department and the standards that they use in digitization processes, the method of scanning, equipment and post-production of the scanned materials and placing the same materials on the user’s platform. Both experts exchanged experiences in the organization and functioning of all segments in the field of digitization in both institutions.

On the last day of the stay in Ljubljana a visit to Medvode was organized where they attended the Workshop for making parchment and leather. The owner and master Petar Marjan briefly explained the interesting procedure and presented a range of products at the workshop.