Blog

Introducing preservation for paper-based heritage library and archive collections.

15 June 2012

Historical library and archives collections contain large numbers of documents composed of a wide range of organic materials: paper, cloth, thread, adhesives and a variety of animal skins.  These materials undergo a continual and inevitable natural ageing process that can be retarded, but never completely halted, by taking a variety of measures to ensure the preservation of their collections. What needs to be appreciated is that the damage that occurs to paper-based collections is irreversible and cumulative.

Muhammad Idris Muhammad Saleh (Maalim Idris): 1934-2012

12 June 2012

Muhammad Idris Muhammad Saleh died in Zanzibar on March 5th 2012, aged 78. Known locally as Maalim Idris (or Maalim Idrisa), his impact on the Zanzibari community was first and foremost as a religious leader and a teacher, but also as a keeper of the history of Islamic scholarship in East Africa, a writer and as a collector.

Preserving the history at the heart of an age-old crisis

16 May 2012

Below is an article by the Director of the Tombouctou Manuscripts Project, Shamil Jeppie, published in the Cape Argus on 16th April this year. Click the article to see a larger, downloadable version.

Who, What, Why: Why do we know Timbuktu?

4 April 2012

Rebels in Mali have taken the historic city of Timbuktu, a place that has become shorthand in English for anywhere far away. How did this metaphor come about?

Can a Papermaker Help to Save Civilization?

22 February 2012

Each November, a papermaker named Timothy Barrett gathers a group of friends and students on the grounds of the University of Iowa Research Park, a onetime tuberculosis sanitarium in Coralville, Iowa, for what he bills as a harvest event. Armed with hook-shaped knives, Barrett and his party hack away at a grove of bare, shrublike trees called kozo, a Japanese relative of the common mulberry. At his nearby studio, which is housed in the former sanitarium’s laundry facility, the bundles of cut kozo are steamed in a steel caldron to loosen the bark. After the bark is stripped from the kozo, it is hung on racks, where it shrivels to a crisp over a matter of days. Eventually the bark is rehydrated and sliced apart from its middle, “green” layer, and that layer, in turn, is sheared from the prized inner layer. It takes about a hundred pounds of harvested kozo trees to yield eight pounds of this “white bark,” from which Barrett will ultimately make a few hundred sheets of what connoisseurs consider to be some of the world’s most perfect paper.