Dunhuang scrolls: Innovative storage solutions at the British Library
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The British Library’s Stein collection contains about 14,000 scrolls, fragments and booklets in Chinese from a cave in the Buddhist Mogao Caves complex near Dunhuang in north-west China. This article describes storage and access solutions for the collection in the context of a busy research library and the currently ongoing Lotus Sutra Manuscripts Digitisation project. The article presents the various technical and organisational challenges that its rehousing presents to the library conservators. Restricted by the existing storage facilities, budget limitations and tight project deadlines, the conservators must provide housing that is adequate for the scroll format, is practical and prevents dissociation, but is also cost- and time-effective. With the best storage practice in mind, they have developed original solutions, balancing the specific housing requirements and constraints. These storage solutions allow the conservators to ensure the long-term safety and accessibility of the collection while laying down a foundation of standardisation that will ensure a homogeneity of approaches for future projects.