Philosophical Society of Washington

New Advances in Preservation Science at the Library of Congress

Eric F. Hansen
Library of Congress

2245th Meeting Abstract
Friday, November 21, 2008 at 8:15 PM


The Library of Congress, the biggest library in the world, is both an international library and the de facto national library of the United States. In the Preservation Directorate, scientific research, technical and analytical studies, testing and quality control, predictive lifetime studies (“accelerated aging”) and treatment development have been formally conducted for over 40 years. Recently, the instrumental capabilities have been greatly expanded. Four projects involving the Preservation Research and Testing Division are presented: “Visual Storage” of the 1507 Waldseemuller World Map in the world’s largest anoxic encasement; hyper-spectral imaging and digital image analysis of documents; development of optical imaging instruments that use 2D and 3D non-contact scanning techniques to capture sound from grooved analog recordings for audio playback; and, possibilities for radiocarbon (14C) dating of parchment maps and photographs.

About the Author:

Eric F. Hansen is Chief of the Preservation Research and Testing Division in the Preservation Directorate of the Library of Congress. He was previously a Scientist at the Getty Conservation Institute in Los Angeles for over 20 years. He is a fellow of both the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (receiving the President’s Award from the AIC in 2006) and the International Institute for Conservation (IIC). He is the author of more than 40 publications and two monographs on the conservation of documents, objects, painted surfaces and architectural sculpture. He has studied the archaeology of the ancient Maya focusing on the sites of Nakbe and El Mirador in the Northern Petén, Guatemala. He received a master's degree in Synthetic Organic Chemistry from the University of California, Irvine and his Ph. D. in Archaeology from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2000.

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