Beach Conservation Lab

The Beach Conservation Lab provides conservation services to all units of the University of Oregon Libraries. Lab staff provides technical expertise on preservation and conservation issues, as well as book repair, housing and reinforcement of physical library materials.

Lab staff includes the Lead Conservator, the Book and Paper Conservator, and Library Student Assistants who assist in book repair, music repair, housing and reformatting.


In 1980 the UO Library received a generous gift from Mrs. Sally Altick in memory of her father, Frank Beach. The purpose of the gift was "to permit the Library to preserve its research collections through the purchase of equipment and supplies designed to preserve and restore valuable research materials." This gift laid the foundation for the Frank L. Beach Memorial Conservation Laboratory, originally located in the Special Collections Department.

In 1985 the UO Library began to develop an active preservation program, following a Preservation Planning Program conducted under the auspices of the Association for Research Libraries. The immediate consequence of the Program was a widespread interest in preservation throughout the library, and a willingness to make changes to help protect the collection. The Library modernized its book repair procedures through the efforts of Carol Pratt, then supervisor of the Mending, Processing and Binding units of the Catalog Department. During renovation and expansion of the main library in 1992, the resources of the Beach Conservation Laboratory, formerly part of Special Collections, were incorporated into a new space designed to house centralized preservation activities.

The Preservation Department was established in 1993, incorporating the Mending, Processing, and Binding units of the Catalog Department. In 2001, the Preservation Department joined the Catalog Department as the Materials Processing and Conservation unit. In 2022, the Beach Lab was transferred under the portfolio of Special Collections. In 2023, a new position of Lead Conservator was created, and the Unit is now overseen by two professional conservators.  Throughout these changes the Beach Conservation Lab staff has continued to stay abreast of advances in library preservation and conservation and has expanded the number of treatments offered to the UO Libraries' collections. 

What We Do

In the Beach Conservation Lab, we first evaluate library materials for appropriate preservation, conservation or restoration treatments. Then we perform the necessary treatments using archival materials.

  • Our in-house treatments of library materials include repair, housing, binding and reformatting.
  • We perform single and multiple signature and side sewn pamphlet binding in order to protect materials from getting lost or damaged on the shelf or while circulating. Some materials are removed from acidic binders and are then resewn into new archival binders. Music is often repaired and rebound in this way.
  • We make Tyvek pockets and put them into pamphlet binders or bound volumes for folded maps, music parts, or other loose materials. For Oregon Collection, Special Collections and other rare items, we make protective pockets, which cover the entire item and are open on two sides.
  • We construct phase boxes, Berkeley wrappers or portfolios to house items that are rare, in fragile condition or have multiple parts. For single sheet documents, we deacidify and encapsulate, using clear mylar film.
  • We build double wall clamshell boxes for the Burgess Collection manuscripts. We regularly do other projects for Special Collections & University Archives.
  • We perform double fan adhesive binding to bind the loose pages of a reformatted brittle book or to rebind a perfectly bound book with failing adhesive.
  • We repair damaged pages with Japanese or heat-set tissue.
  • We tip in loose pages, replacement pages, errata or other inserts into bound volumes.
  • We perform spine repair using book cloth or buckram, and if possible, we reattach the original spine label. We use Japanese tissue to reattach the loose boards and spines of leather bindings. We also tighten loose hinges, recase and resew when necessary.
  • We educate staff and the public about preservation issues and procedures through presentations and workshops.
  • We participate in digitization projects.