Restoring ancient books, a millenary task: expert – Xinhua

From Xinhua News Agency:

The Chinese have to spend a millennium to fix the country’s 10 million rare and dilapidated antique books if no measures are taken to intensify the current efforts to save them, an expert said Saturday.

“We now have no more than 100 professionals specialized in ancient book restoration in the country. If we depend only on them, we have to wait for one thousand years to have the 10 million ancient books brought back to good conditions,” said Zhan Furui, curator with the National Library of China. “You can not tell how many of these ancient books will be subjected to dilapidation due to environmental pollution and poor preservation conditions during the years to come,” he added.

According to Zhan, one third of the 30 million ancient books existing in China are damaged to some extent by water, fire, worms, mice, or paper decay. To ensure a regular supply of qualified “repairers,” China is mulling to set up ancient book restoration and protection majors in some universities, according to Zhan. Currently, only the Mochou Technical Secondary School in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province, has such a major. [Full Text]

See also China Daily’s “Restoring books an age-old problem” by Zhao Huanxin:

Zhang Ping was engrossed in fixing a crack in a 10th-century Buddhist manuscript recently, using special paper, paste and, most of all, his patience. Looking up from his work, the usually-calm National Library of China (NLC) ancient-book restorer looked somewhat anxious.

“We are still halfway through repairing the dilapidated scrolls from the Dunhuang Grottoes in Northwest China, which would stretch 10,000 metres if placed end to end. We need another six years to finish the job.” Zhang’s experience epitomizes how China, which has a large collection of ancient books, is struggling to preserve its rare library materials endangered by paper decay and inadequate storage conditions as well as human and funding resources.

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