Meet the Committee – Isobel Griffin

In this month’s edition of ‘Meet the Committee’ we hear from Isobel Griffin, Collections Care Manager at the National Library of Scotland…

What is your main area of Conservation?
Preventive conservation, conservation science and management

What is your position within the Icon Scotland Group?
I am the Publications Officer. I provide encouragement and practical support to help conservators in Scotland write about and publicise their work. At the moment I’m busy planning the Icon Scotland session at the Icon 2016 conference.

How did you first become interested in Conservation?
I was studying History of Art at University and I heard someone from the Hamilton Kerr Institute give a lecture about paintings conservation. I went straight to the University’s career centre (this was in the days before the internet!) to find out about post-graduate courses.

Describe your typical day at work…
I am the manager of the Collections Care division at the National Library of Scotland. On a typical day I spend some time in meetings and some time doing written work and responding to emails. We do a lot of internal and external training so I may be delivering training or planning future sessions, and when time permits I get involved in small research projects, so I may have some data to crunch or writing-up to do. I’m based in the Library’s main building at George IV Bridge, but I periodically visit our box-making workshop in Sighthill, and at the moment I also go to our storage building at Causewayside to check on the collections, because we have a major building project underway. My office is next to the conservation workshop, so I pop in often to talk to the book and paper conservators and to see what they are working on.

What has been your favourite conservation moment?
A particular highlight for me has been visiting Canna House on the island of Canna, once when I worked for the National Trust for Scotland and was advising on the care of all the collections, and more recently with my National Library of Scotland hat on to assess the books that are on long-term loan from the Library to the Trust. It feels like a real privilege to go to such a remote and beautiful place under the guise of work!

Conservation is often misunderstood by those outside the profession. What would you like to tell the world about Conservation?
Our current Library strategy says that one of our main objectives is to ‘be the guardian of the published and recorded memory of Scotland’, and I like the idea of conservators as guardians or custodians, who try to ensure that our heritage is kept safe for future generations.

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