My time as a book conservation intern at the British Library

Samantha Hare completed her Icon Internship in the conservation of manuscripts, archive materials and books in 2021

11 Jun 2021

The internship was hosted by the British Library and generously supported by the Clare Hampson Fund. In Samantha’s end of internship presentation, she has reflected on her time at the British Library: her need to adapt in trying times, the knowledge and skills she has built up as well as the networks she has developed to help her in her career in conservation.

I began my internship in Book Conservation at the British Library in November 2019. The internship was supported by Icon and funded by the Clare Hampson fund. Originally intended to be a year, it was extended to fifteen months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite parts being spent working from home I had an incredibly rich and varied experience. I condensed the fifteen months I spent at the British Library into the following presentation which I gave at the end of my internship to the British Library's conservation department, members of Icon and representatives from the Clare Hampson fund.

The presentation (recorded on March 4th 2021) was split into four parts:

  • My time at the British Library
  • Working on site and from home
  • A snapshot a day video, a compilation of clips compiled from short videos I recorded throughout my internship (I originally planned this to show just how varied a conservator's job is at and away from the bench. However this year didn’t quite turn out as expected, as we went in and out of lockdown and work and home life blurred as one, these snapshots became more of a social document than I had intended!) 
  • Some words of thanks and questions asked at the end of my presentation

I would like to express my gratitude to all who made this experience possible, especially the Clare Hampson Fund for supporting this Icon internship. To those at Icon, in particular to Lorna Calcutt ACR and Patrick Whife for overseeing this process. To all at the British Library who I worked with and learnt from, in the studio and digitally. In particular I’d like to thank my wonderful and incredibly hard working supervisor Zoë Miller ACR and my brilliant mentor Amy Baldwin for creating such a wonderful, holistic, supportive and inspiring experience. 

You can follow Samantha on instagram @samanthahareconservation