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ICS Sydney - International Conservation Services

conservatorium of music rare bookS collection


When a fire broke out in the Rare Books room of the University of Sydney Conservatorium of Music Library, the fire brigade responded within minutes and quickly used foam to extinguish it. This fast response contained the fire within the room and saved the items within it from potentially devastating damage. The collection was then swiftly assessed by Conservatorium and University of Sydney staff to ensure it was in no further danger while fire recovery and salvage procedures were undertaken.  

Condition Assessment          

International Conservation Services was contacted to conduct a site assessment and put together a methodology for conservation of the fire-affected materials. All items stored in the room were found to be fire-affected; all exposed surfaces were coated in soot, some were stained from chemical foam, and one was partially singed.

The majority of items were paper-based. There were numerous bound books, and a large collection of loose-leaf documents (including musical scores and manuscripts) stored in card folders. There was also a Verbrugghen music stand and several historical photographs.         

Scope of Works

  1. Transported all fire-affected items from the Conservatorium Library to International Conservation Services
  2. Removed and reduced soot and fire extinguisher foam residue on affected items
  3. Recorded card index information onto a spreadsheet, cross referencing to catalogues and cataloguing all uncatalogued material on an additional spreadsheet
  4. Replaced damaged auxiliary materials (boxes and folders) and rehoused documents within archival folders
  5. Carried out additional conservation treatment where required
  6. Returned items to University of Sydney Rare Books and Special Collections located in the Fisher Library


University of Sydney Library


Paper Conservation 







Conservatorium - Bound Books BT

Bound books - Before treatment

Conservatorium - Interior BT

Interior of book - Before treatment

Conservatorium - Interior AT

Interior of book - After treatment
Conservatorium - Exterior BT

Exterior of book - Before treatment  
Conservatorium - Exterior AT

Exterior of book - After treatment
Conservatorium - DT

During treatment