Rare Book Conservator
Date: March 4, 2011
Place: Library of Congress, Washington DC
Interview: Yasmeen Khan, Rare Book Conservator, Library of Congress
Meet Yasmeen, a rare book conservator at the Library of Congress. She preserves (cares for) old books and makes them available for the public to view online.
My name is Yasmeen Khan, I'm a rare book conservator at the Library of Congress.
[Referring to "Children in the Wood" children's book] As you can see, the book - it must have been - it's in terrible condition when I got it all this was missing, all this was missing, all this was missing and it was very, very dark. So each page was carefully washed and paints were consolidated so they wouldn't fall off.
I'm working on two projects. One is a large-scale project dealing with digitization of the library's collections. So I stabilize them with my colleagues for digitization and scanning. And the other project is the conservation and rebinding of a medieval manuscript from Germany from 1478 which is on parchment.
Books are like a mirror into the past so when you pull them apart you sort of get an idea of what people were thinking when they put the book together in the first place.
At the Library of Congress you can see a rough draft of the Declaration of Independence and you can see the Waldseemuller map, which is the first map that shows America and names it. You can see the Thomas Jefferson's Library; the library that he gave to Congress that was the seed of the Library of Congress.
The website for the Library of Congress is www.loc.gov.