Conservation & Exhibition Services is hosting one of those special map people, paper conservator Sarah Dove, of Sarah Dove Fine Art Conservation LLC.


Dove photographing a rolled wall map in the Gates Conservation Laboratory

Dove was hired as a consultant to undertake a condition assessment of the Library’s collection of rare rolled wall maps.  She is an experienced conservator of art on paper and has worked with cartographic collections at Yale.  Over the next few months Dove will do brief conservation assessments for 700 plus maps from the Map Department that are being transferred to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library (BRBL).

The maps were packed and transported to the Conservation & Exhibition Services laboratory by an art handling service. They will be unpacked, evaluated for condition and cataloged by staff from the BRBL’s Rare Book Cataloging Team. The Collections Conservation & Housing team will create custom housings or boxes for each of the maps so that they can be safely shelved and paged to the reading room.


The first two bins of boxed rolled maps staged in the lab for the survey.

The survey tool includes fields where Dove records the title, dimensions, and creation date for each map.  She is also able to upload and attach reference photos of the cartouche (to be consulted by the catalogers for their work) and overall damage to each survey record using her iPhone.

Screenshot 2016-06-27 17.20.32

The Gates Conservation Laboratory affords the space needed to safely and efficiently carry out this type of large-scale project on-site. The new light tables offer the surfaces needed to unroll the maps.  The work can happen without impeding other projects and regular treatment work. And one of our Yale summer students is available to help out with the data entry.



Dove works to unroll an over-sized map on the light table while student assistant, Elena, enters the data for the map into the online survey tool.

By the end of the summer, the Library will have a complete picture of the conservation needs of all of the rolled maps that will be used to prioritize future work and facilitate access to these amazing artifacts.

“There are map people whose joy is to lavish more attention on the sheets of colored paper than on the colored land rolling by. I have listened to accounts by such travelers in which every road number was remembered, every mileage recalled, and every little countryside discovered. Another kind of traveler requires to know in terms of maps exactly where he is pin-pointed at every moment, as though there were some kind of safety in black and red lines, in dotted indications and squirming blue of lakes and the shadings that indicate mountains. It is not so with me. I was born lost and take no pleasure in being found, nor much identification from shapes which symbolize continents and states.”

John Steinbeck