How to Break Into Book Restoration: Paths to Becoming a Book Conservator

Breaking into the field of book restoration and conservation can seem daunting, but there are several viable paths to consider. According to experts, people may get into book conservation through a variety of means, including:

Bench Training

Learning on the job as a lab technician is one common route into book conservation. This hands-on, apprenticeship-style training allows aspiring conservators to develop essential skills through direct experience.

Commercial Bookbindery Work

Working in a commercial bookbindery can also provide valuable training and exposure to the techniques and materials used in book repair and restoration.

Bookbinding Classes

Taking bookbinding classes, whether at a specialized trade school or through community education programs, can help build the necessary skills and familiarity with the craft.

Specialized Degree Programs

Earning a degree from one of the handful of specialized trade schools that offer programs in book arts, material culture, or library science can provide a more formal educational path into book conservation.

Master’s Programs

Pursuing a master’s degree in book arts, material culture, or library science can also be a route into the field, as these programs often include coursework and training in book conservation and restoration.

Regardless of the path chosen, experts emphasize the importance of developing strong hand skills, an eye for detail, and a deep appreciation for the history and craft of bookbinding. With the right combination of training, experience, and passion, aspiring book conservators can find rewarding careers in this specialized field.

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