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Exhibit Highlights

burns library

Conservation History
Irish Roots and Boston Craftsmanship

December 18, 2009 - April 10, 2010

The exhibition explores the role of conservator in the John J. Burns Library at Boston College.

The John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections was founded in 1986 and is housed in the beautiful Bapst building on the Boston College campus. The Burns Library is home to more than two hundred fifty thousand volumes, sixteen million manuscripts, and important collections of architectural records, maps, artworks, photographs, prints, artifacts, and ephemera. These distinguished collections reveal the University’s commitment to the preservation and dissemination of human knowledge. The University, by housing the collections in a secure, climate-controlled environment assures continued access to these significant archival materials.

John Atterbury, Marilyn Heskett, Robert O'NeillThe installation of an on-site conservation lab is further proof of the school’s strong commitment to collection care. The first conservator, Marilyn Heskett (at left with John Atteberry and Robert O'Neill), was appointed by Burns Librarian, Robert O’Neill, in 1989: this exhibition marks the twentieth anniversary of the presence of conservators in the library.

The conservation lab had an important Irish connection in its beginning, in terms of the training of its conservators. William Anthony, Irish born and apprenticed, was a well-respected bookbinder and conservator who taught Burns Book Conservator Mark Esser bookbinding and book conservation. Before joining the Burns Library staff, Mark was the founder of the Bookbinding Program at the North Bennet Street School, a school with a reputation for excellence. The Boston school, well-known for its tradition of craftsmanship, is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. Marilyn Heskett and current Burns Library Conservator Barbara Adams Hebard were proud to be students of Mark Esser at the North Bennet Street School.