Slava Polishchuk, Our Conservation and Preservation Officer
At Special Collections, our job is to preserve the past. Whether manuscripts, maps, or rare books, our talented staff is trained to care for damaged items. Slava Polishchuk, our book conservator, has an advanced degree from the Moscow Higher Art Industrial College where he studied fine art preservation and also received master degree in fine art at Brooklyn College. Slava is a valuable member of our staff. He meticulously repairs and re-houses both the rare books in Special Collections as well as items from the general collection that are too fragile to be sent to a commercial binder. This site is an introduction to the vital work that Slava performs for the Brooklyn College community – saving our books for future generations.
Have a question for our Conservator? Email Mr. Polishchuk.
Collection Maintenance: A Philosophy
For hundreds of years the book has remained unchanged in its basic structure. Materials and techniques may have changed, but the one thing that has remained is the method of creating the books and their repairing: the hands.
Books have been built by our hands and if necessary, preserved by our hands, saved for future generations. A highly skilled craftsman can easily “fool the eye” when making new additions. But archival consideration must be imposed to assure that the historical values of a document are not lost or diminished.
Any book is like a person. It has its own life. And the conservator must choose the right kind of treatment for it.“Conservation” has replaced “restoration” in current usage. The term “restoration” has a different meaning than the term “conservation”. Restoration brings to mind workshops perhaps more concerned with cosmetic improvement than with stabilization. Conservation treatment is intended to stabilize materials in their original format by chemical and physical means. Conservation treatment may be carried out to return deteriorated or damage items to a stable and usable condition. In the context of an archive, conservation treatment is not performed for the purpose of improving an item’s cosmetic appearance. Each book is a part of memory. It doesn’t matter if it’s from the eighteenth or nineteenth century, somebody put knowledge on those pages. The conservator must save it for future generations.
The Book and Paper Conservation Laboratory
Brooklyn College is the only CUNY institution to have both a conservator and a conservation laboratory. In 2005, the Brooklyn College Library received a CCAP grant for $300,000 with the help of State Assemblywoman Adele Cohen to expand and build a Book & Paper Conservation Laboratory.