On Monday, November 7, 2016, renowned book collector Toshiyuki Takamiya visited the Gates Conservation Laboratory. He met with Assistant Chief Conservator Paula Zyats and had a chance to see behind the scenes where the manuscripts from the Takamiya collection are being cared for and conserved. Zyats and Conservation Assistant, Karen Jutzi, are examining each of the manuscripts in Professor Takamiya’s unparalleled collection, which is on long-term loan to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Conservators are recording important physical features and establishing a baseline from which to judge any future changes to the manuscripts as they are used and consulted.
Zyats planned a surprise for our honored guest. Displaying nerves of steel (and years of practice), she demonstrated how she reshapes severely deformed parchment sheets and mends shattered spine folds on a suction table. Zyats made it look easy (which it is definitely not), and Professor Takamiya was delighted to see and handle the end results.
Since the collection is on loan to the Beinecke Library, any proposed treatments must receive the approval of the collection’s owner. Given the high probability that researchers and students will want to study the physical aspects of the manuscripts in addition to analyzing the text, decisions to treat will be weighed very carefully and undertaken only when absolutely necessary.