Documentation and Conservation of Historic Bookbinding Collections


The Balkan Heritage Foundation is happy to announce a new seminar on the preservation of historic bookbinding collections in partnership with the National Library of Greece and the National Library “Ivan Vazov” in Plovdiv. The project is funded by Erasmus + and the Municipality of Plovdiv. The training will take place in March 20 – 24 at the National Library “Ivan Vazov” in Plovdiv, Bulgaria and is oriented towards professionals in book and archival material conservation and library curation. The 5-day seminar will include visits to historic collections, with an opportunity to examine and discuss real-life challenges encountered in local library collections. It will conclude with a round-table and an online follow-up event.

Understanding the significance of bindings as a carrier of historic context and the value of books as artifacts is crucial to the shaping of our approach to documenting book structures and the way that conservation treatments and preservation activities are performed. The seminar “Documentation and Conservation of Historic Bookbinding Collections: Approaches and Methodologies from the National Library of Greece” will not only present the approaches  formulated at the National Library of Greece, but also address a series of dilemmas and requirements when caring for large collections of manuscripts and printed books that preserve valuable and rare historic bindings.

The seminar will be led by Dr. Nikolas Sarris, a book and paper conservator at the National Library of Greece with a PhD from the University of the Arts London (UAL) on the study of tool-decorated bookbindings from the Monastery of St. Catherine in Sinai, Egypt. Dr. Sarris has taught undergraduate courses on book and paper conservation in Greece. He has also worked as a conservator at the British Library and the monastery of St. John Theologian in Patmos, Greece, where he organized the international Patmos Workshops on Conservation and Historic Bookbinding. He has participated in the “St. Catherine’s Library Conservation Project” since 2001 and has collaborated as a freelance conservator and researcher in international manuscript conservation, training and research projects in Egypt, Iraq, Ethiopia, Greece, UK and Turkey.

To apply for the seminar, please send a CV to Application deadline is March 15, 2023 or until the places are filled.


Day 1: 20.03.2023  Introduction to the Seminar

Lecture 1: Historic Bookbindings and the Archaeology of the Book

Lunch break

Lecture 2: Bookbinding Collections at the National Library of Greece: Balkan and Mediterranean Binding Collections

Lecture 1: Documentation of historic bookbindings.

Lunch break

Workshop 1: Demonstrations and practice on Book Conservation Documentation Systems

Lecture 4: Major threats of historic binding collections – Causes of deterioration

Lunch break and free time

Visit to local Library Collections

Workshop 2: Presentations of Library Collections by participants

Lunch break and free time

Workshop 3: Discussion on preservation issues in local collections

Public Lecture: North Iraq: Salvage of Manuscripts in Times of Peril

Lecture 5: Addressing preservation needs. Cases from the National Library of Greece

Lunch break and free time

Round table: Identifying the needs and areas of collaboration towards improving the preservation of our bookbinding collections.