May 24, 2022

University of Michigan Conservator Closing the Book on 6-decade Career

From The Detroit Free Press:

For more than 63 years, [Jim] Craven has bound books and conserved artifacts on U-M’s Ann Arbor campus.

Today, the 81-year-old Craven leaves campus, retiring as the longest-serving staff member in the university’s history.

He began working part-time at U-M in 1947 while he was still in high school in a bookbindery in the basement of the Hatcher Graduate Library.


He has worked on unique books — including one displayed in a collection of his work at the Bentley that has a series of bellows in the guts of the book with strings leading out of it, making a harmonica-sounding noise when the strings are pulled.

“I can’t keep track of what we’ve done in my head because this is what you have to be focused on,” he said, pointing to books awaiting repair. “You can’t approach it thinking that one thing is more valuable than another. You have to concentrate on what’s valuable in the book you are working on.”

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.