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The Conservation Laboratory is charged with the care and preservation of NYAM’s extensive collection of books, pamphlets, manuscripts, prints and archives. The Laboratory was founded in 1982, when The New York Academy of Medicine Library received a 3 to 1 matching grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to establish a preservation program. With additional donations from the Mellon Foundation, the New York Community Trust, NYAM Fellows and others, the program was officially launched in 1985. In 1992 and again in 1994, the Gladys Brooks Foundation donated funds to create a dedicated laboratory space, to purchase specialized conservation equipment and to endow a yearly internship in the study of book conservation. The lab takes its name in recognition of these and others generous gifts made over the years by the Foundation for the preservation of NYAM’s library collections.
The Laboratory oversees all aspects of library preservation, including both collections maintenance and item-level conservation treatment. The Lab also coordinates the care and treatment of items in NYAM’s collections that are not treated in-house, such as medical artifacts, furniture, paintings and textiles. All treatments are carried out in accordance with the Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC), which mandates that conservators strive to maintain both the integrity of objects as well as their historical context and, when possible, perform treatments that are both reversible and minimally invasive.
The staff of the Conservation Laboratory are active participants in professional organizations, including both AIC and the Guild of Book Workers, and strive to provide educational and training opportunities for individuals interested in joining the conservation field.