Design and Construction of Reusable and Modular Book Cradles


March 6 to 8, 2024


Canadian Conservation Institute
1030 Innes Road
Ottawa, Ontario  K1B 4S7


In-person training. A hybrid conference day option is also offered.

Application deadline

January 3, 2024

Participant selection

Applicants will be notified by January 10, 2024, of whether they have been accepted for their chosen participation option. A waiting list will be established once the maximum number of participants has been reached.

Language of instruction



Alessandro Scola, Senior Book Conservator, Department of Conservation and Preservation of the Sheridan Libraries and University Museums, Johns Hopkins University (JHU)

Alessandro Scola trained in Italy at the Centro di Formazione Professionale in Cremona and in different private and public conservation labs in Italy and Spain, obtaining his three-year book conservation certificate in 2005. Afterward, he worked as a private conservator in Treviglio, Italy, before joining the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland for a four-year book conservation-preservation project as a conservation technician. Alessandro has lived in the US since 2012. He worked as a contractor in New York City and interned in Washington, D.C., at the Folger Shakespeare Library before joining the JHU Libraries in 2013. In 2014 he completed his B.Sc. (Hon) in Natural Sciences with the Open University in the UK.

Workshop overview

“Design and Construction of Reusable and Modular Book Cradles” will focus on an innovative system for displaying books in exhibitions that was developed at the Sheridan Libraries of JHU. The system aims to minimize the handling of the books during mount-making and to improve the efficiency and sustainability of the exhibition preparation process as a whole without compromising the safety of the displayed objects. It consists of simple modular structures built with the thermoplastic poly(ethylene terephthalate) glycol (commercial name Vivak). This material is chosen for its great physical and chemical properties, low cost and high workability, but the design principles applied can be easily exported for developing similar displaying systems made of different materials.

Since the system was adopted, the JHU conservation lab has experienced a 90% reduction in both the consumption and disposal of the thermoplastic used for cradle-making and has drastically sped up the exhibition preparation process. Getting a book ready for exhibition using this method can take as little as 15 minutes.

Learning objectives

By the end of this workshop, participants will be able to

What to expect

Day 1

The course will begin with an introductory conference day. It will include, amongst other things, a mixture of lectures and live demonstrations, such as:

Days 2 and 3

Alessandro Scola will offer two full days of hands-on instruction on the making of Vivak book cradles. The participants will practise with the materials and tools best suited for the work and build a set of small-scale cradles (a dozen pieces) to use as reference models. They will leave the workshop with a small tool set, an illustrated manual written by the instructor and their completed models.

The workshop will wrap up with a roundtable discussion on the workshop’s content and methodology, as well as the challenges unique to each participant.

Participation options

First option

One-day conference online (March 6, 2024)

Number of participants

The conference day can accommodate up to 80 participants.


CAN$100 (includes HST)

Student rate CAN$25 (includes HST)

Second option

One-day conference in person (March 6, 2024)

Number of participants

The conference day can accommodate up to 60 participants (including those registered for the full advanced professional development [APD] workshop).


CAN$150 (includes HST, lunch and refreshments)

Third option

Full APD workshop in person (March 6–8, 2024)

Number of participants

The full in-person APD workshop is open to a maximum of 16 participants.


CAN$750 (includes HST, lunch and refreshments)

How to apply

Please fill out our application form. Select the correct participation option and submit your application by January 3, 2024.

Selection criteria

Anyone can apply to attend the conference day. However, the full APD workshop is designed for early- or mid-career practising conservators or preparators working in collections with bound material. If the number of applicants exceeds the maximum number of participants allowed, selection will be made based on the following criteria:

Preference will be given to Canadian citizens and residents. If the maximum number of registrants is met, a waiting list will be established. We especially welcome applications from Indigenous and equity-deserving applicants.


Once your registration has been confirmed, you will be contacted by phone to process the payment, which is due no later than February 7, 2024. The payment will be processed in Canadian funds by credit card (MasterCard or VISA).

Canadian federal government employees must provide IS Reference Codes or a commitment number, department code and cost centre.


Requests to withdraw must be submitted in writing to CCI. Refunds will be issued according to the following schedule:

CCI may make exceptions to this refund policy in the event of insurmountable difficulties in attending the workshop.


CCI reserves the right to cancel this workshop if the minimum enrolment requirement is not met 30 days prior to the event. In such cases, CCI will refund the full registration fee but will not be responsible for any transportation, housing, loss of income or other costs that may have been incurred by the participants.

Additional information

Please contact CCI if you have any questions, comments or accommodation needs.

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