May 27, 2022

Penn St. University: Conservation Centre’s Grand Opening Sparks New Era For University Libraries

From Penn St. University:

To commemorate the newly opened Penn State University Libraries’ Conservation Centre, an open house and grand opening celebration on Thursday, April 25 attracted donors, colleagues, friends of the Libraries and special guests, including Penn State President Eric J. Barron and Dean of University Libraries and Scholarly Communications Barbara I. Dewey.


President Barron, who lauded the Conservation Centre’s opening as a “30-year dream in the making,” added that the Centre will offer incredible opportunities for outreach, programming and student opportunities, and will place Penn State among other Big Ten Academic Alliance institutions with specialized facilities for conserving and preserving library collections.


“The Centre will allow more Penn State students to explore career opportunities in library science and library information science, museum studies, graphic arts and conservation,” said Dean Dewey in her welcome remarks. “All of the teaching tools that conservators need to preserve and conserve materials—ranging from cuneiform tablets, papyrus, medieval manuscripts on parchment and 21st century artists’ books—are right here.”

Previous to the opening of the Centre, located at the Science Park Library Annex on Sandy Drive in State College, Pennsylvania, the Conservation and Preservation departments were scattered across Pattee Library and the Cato Park Annex, with much of the extensive work outsourced to regional conservation companies. The Centre has enabled Master Conservator Bill Minter and his staff to work together in one location that features a large workroom with space for outreach and educational opportunities; a negative air pressure de-contamination room; separate isolation room to contain molds, insect infestation and other hazards; photo documentation area; storage and office spaces.

The concept and design for the Centre was the brain child and long-time dream of Sue Kellerman, Judith O. Sieg Chair for Preservation and head of Preservation Conservation and Digitization (PCD). Kellerman’s vision for a Libraries conservation program began with a scribbled plan that became the blueprint and dream she would carry and nurture for nearly three decades.


“We will now be able to provide institutions in the area — and the citizens of Pennsylvania — with trusted resources to call on and assist in the care of their own collections,” Dewey said. “In addition, we plan to hold lectures, host speakers, and offer workshops for our own colleagues in central Pennsylvania and beyond.”

In fact, Dewey said, current collaborations already include research investigation with the Smithsonian Institution and the National Library of Medicine on the use of leathers and dyes in bookbinding. Closer to home, the Centre has recently assisted Centre County Library & Historical Museum’s conservation assessment plan to restore an 1818 map of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, the earliest known map of the county still in existence. Barron unveiled the restored map during the event, and several Bellefonte Area High School students, led by teacher Matthew Maris, were on hand to explain their historical research to determine the map’s date.

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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.