Tip #7: Read, read, read...then create an annotated bibliography
Websites and blogs contain a lot of helpful information, but you can still learn about conservation the “old-fashioned” way—by reading a book or article! Once you’ve done that, put together an annotated bibliography in order to remember that information for the future. For those of you that are pre-program, an annotated bibliography makes a great addition to your portfolio, and there may not be another opportunity to do it once you begin a conservation program.
With so many wonderful conservation books and journals, the largest problem is deciding where to start! A good idea may be to begin reading about the projects you’re working on, and then move on to specific interests (maybe they’re one in the same). From there, ask for recommendations from your supervisor(s). If they’re willing, consider discussing articles with them, because sometimes the information you read about is outdated and completely irrelevant, but you’d never know as a beginner.
If you’re planning on attending a conservation graduate program some day, get a head start and ask for the reading list required of their students; these sources may be broad in scope, but it’s valuable to learn the basics of all materials, even if you’ve already decided on one specialty. Finally, from all of these books and articles, you can check the authors’ references and suggested bibliographies to continue your reading.
Some of the staple conservation books are worth buying, if you can afford to. Multiple people have recommended these to me: Mills & White, The Organic Chemistry of Museum Objects, or Artists’ Pigments, vols. 1-4. Sometimes there will be discounted book sales posted on the distlist, so keep an eye out for that. Also, museums should have a collection of good books and journals in their conservation department and/or in the library for you to borrow, and you may even be able to find some things at your local university or public library. As always, you can find free resources online, like the JAIC archive, or the JCAC archive; just be sure they're from a reputable source. Happy reading!