Iona Abbey Library

Preserving Iona Abbey Library


In March 2017 we were invited to the Isle of Iona to visit the Iona Abbey Library.  There John and Lesley Anne appraised hundreds of books on their two day trip and we, along with two other conservators, were awarded the tender.

Iona Abbey Library is one of the most important libraries in Western Europe and attracts over 130,000 visitors a year.  It is where St Columba's monks sat down to write and illustrate the Book of Kells before being rudely interrupted by the vikings!

In September 2016 the tiny library, hidden above the cloisters of the abbey, received a grant of £100,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.  This is being used to support the two year restoration and conservation project preserving the unique works held in the library for future generations.


Shortly after receiving several boxes containing books and manuscripts which delve into the history of Scotland and its Gaelic ancestry we set to work.  Where possible the books were restored as similarly to their original bindings as possible.  In many cases this involved paper repair work and conservation binding, and where pamphlets and manuscripts had been previously unprotected, they were now secured in new cases so that the internal pages will stay preserved for many more years to come.

In December 2017 we safely returned the precious works to the Iona Abbey Cathedral Trust who will look after them until the Abbey Library restoration project has been completed.  We hope to be involved in the public exhibition to be created on Iona; in this it's final year; to showcase all the hard work put into this venture before its expected completion in October.

"Thank you very much to DAD Bookbinders for all your hard work and attention to our books.  They have been in good hands"
Sue Clutterbuck, Project Manager, Iona Abbey Library Project