Posted on February 20, 2019

Preservation and conservation specialists learned about the latest best practices in a workshop organized in the Sultanate of Oman by Qatar National Library, in its role as IFLA’s Regional Preservation and Conservation (PAC) Center, and UNESCO.

The three-day workshop was held from 19 – 21 February in collaboration with the National Records and Archives Authority in Oman, and was attended by book and manuscript conservation specialists from Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Iran, and other countries.

The workshop, “Practical Methods for the Scientific Examination of Library Objects,” focused on technical photography of heritage collections and the technique of reflectance spectroscopy. Technical photography represents a collection of images taken with a modified digital camera using different lighting sources and filters to acquire a selection of images, with each providing unique information about the object under examination. Reflectance spectroscopy is an effective technique in identifying pigments, and reveals information vital to preserving historical items.

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“We are delighted that experts from across the Arab region attended the workshop and learned about the latest skills and tools for preserving historical manuscripts. The session is more important than ever, as the preservation of valuable heritage in the region is facing several challenges such as limited resources and lack of technical expertise,” said Stephane Ipert, Preservation and Conservation Manager at Qatar National Library. “The state-of-the-art digitization center at Qatar National Library is working with partners in Qatar and the region to preserve the rich cultural heritage of Qatar and in libraries throughout the Arab region, and to raise awareness about conservation of rare books, manuscripts and documents.”

The workshop is part of a larger project working toward preserving documentary heritage in the Arab region by understanding the needs and challenges of the relevant institutions, and enhancing knowledge and information sharing. Abdul Mohsin bin Saeed bin Sultan Al Hinai, Director General of the General Directorate of Documentation at the National Records and Archives Authority in Oman, said: “This course is a result of unique collaboration between the National Records and Archives Authority of Oman and Qatar National Library, which provides participants with necessary skills and knowledge. It is important that experts in this field understand scientific methods and modern skills to preserve heritage in libraries and museums.”

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“We are pleased to host this workshop in the Sultanate of Oman. We have learned valuable information about the use of modern technologies in the field of conservation and preservation,” said Badriah Bint Isa Al Nadabiah, Acting Head of Preservation Department at the National Records and Archives Authority in Oman. “The workshop covered the fundamentals of examining paper, including its decorations, illuminations and colors. It also focused on developing technical skills related to optical spectroscopy and colors, and their relevance to technical examination of documents, manuscripts and books.”

Qatar National Library was selected as IFLA’s Regional PAC Centre in 2015, and now supports libraries across the MENA region to safeguard documentary heritage in its diverse forms and formats.