Conservation in Action
Jeff Banwell conservation cleaning Sir John Soane’s books in the South Drawing Room
Photo: Conservation Department
Soane’s Library Spring Cleaned
Sir John Soane collected over 7,000 books which are housed throughout Nos. 12-14 Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Whatever a book’s age or value, it must be periodically dusted and checked for pest infestation. Our dedicated warders carry out essential book care throughout the year and have recently finished dusting all 7,000 of them! This is a great achievement but there is no rest for the wicked; they have already begun the cycle once more, working bookcase by bookcase.
It took two specially trained warders, Jeff Banwell and Craig Donaghy, seven months to complete the task. They each spent on average half a day a week doing this, using methods and tools appropriate for careful conservation cleaning, for example, a soft squirrel hair brush to dust the covers and pages so as not to abrade the delicate leather and paper. Perhaps the next time you visit the museum you will see them hard at work and will be able to watch the process for yourself. As they work, they welcome questions from visitors about how we care for our books.