National Conservation Service partnership

NCS website

Bruynzeel Storage Systems has joined forces with Business Member NCS to help improve the conservation qualities of storage equipment installations. Our aim is to make conservation monitoring and management as easy as possible for custodians in archives, libraries and museums.

The Bruynzeel-NCS partnership will cover the following areas:

  • Testing and development of all Bruynzeel’s equipment materials and finishes aimed at heritage storage, using Oddy testing as well as NCS-Chrialabs SMART testing, to ensure materials don’t produce damaging internal pollutants.
  • Designing and adding simple to use features to shelf equipment to increase its conservation benefits focused on a number of key areas:
    • pest control and monitoring,
    • relative humidity control and monitoring,
    • passive climate control.

At Bruynzeel Storage Systems, we care about the future. We want to contribute to a better world with a growing population where there is a growing need of efficient use of space and natural resources. We believe that smart storage makes a difference, both in conserving the past as well as to improve and therefore enhancing the future.

About NCS

NCS specialises in providing advice, management, practice and training in the care and conservation of archive, library and museum collections. NCS is unique in providing these services through a not-for-profit Membership scheme for institutions. Membership provides an Accredited conservator to work with custodians in their institutions, paid for through the annual membership subscription fee and at a price lower than normal consultancy charges. We aim to make conservation (aka ‘collections care’) available and affordable for those without conservation staff. We also seek and secure commercial partnership and sponsorship funding for schemes that make such activities as top-quality storage or environmental monitoring low cost or even free to members.

NCS is led by Accredited and qualified conservators and is at the heart of a growing network of Accredited Associates who support Members on-site or join our team to deliver specialist services. Our core expertise is conservation of archival and library collections but we bring in our Associates to help Members and clients with such heritage as works of art, textiles, archaeological and museum objects. We have nationally recognised expertise in the planning of new archive buildings and refurbishments, including in historic settings.

NCS directors

Chris Woods

Chris Woods

PGDipcons, BAhons CertCons RMARA ACR FIIC Director

Chris Woods is an Accredited Conservator with over 30 years of experience working in the heritage sector. Chris’s former public sector roles have included Head of Conservation & Collection Care at the Bodleian Library, Oxford University, and Director of Collection & Programme Services for the Tate galleries. Chris has published, lectured and taught in a range of specialist fields, notably building and storage environments, parchment manuscripts, archival seals and plastic photographic negatives. Chris founded NCS in 2009/10. Currently Chairman of the British Standards Institution’s committee responsible for BS4971:2017 Conservation & Care of Archive and Library Collections (and formerly for BS5454, the 2009-12 review of which he led), Chris is also active in Europe, having led the work to develop EN 16893:2018 Specifications for Buildings, recently launched and which replaces the now withdrawn BS5454. Chris advises Lincoln and Salisbury Cathedrals on the care of their 1215 Magna Cartas of King John and Hereford for its 1217 Magna Carta of Henry III.

Chris was a founding Trustee and Director of Icon, the Institute of Conservation, and former chairman of its predecessor UKIC. He led the establishment of Icon’s Conservation Register on taking it over from the Museums and Galleries Commission, its PACR accreditation scheme, HLF-funded Internship Bursary Scheme and former Conservation Technician Qualification.

Elizabeth Oxborrow-Cowan

Elizabeth Oxborrow-Cowan

MA, RMARA, MIC Director

Elizabeth Oxborrow-Cowan is a professionally qualified Archivist and Management Consultant. She has run her own consultancy since 2003. Elizabeth has worked with most types of archive service of every size right across the UK. Clients include private and business collections, local authorities, national institutions, museums, libraries, universities and the NHS. Elizabeth advises on all aspects of managing archive collections and archive services including:

  • Strategic and transformational planning for service development
  • Developing funding bids notably for the Heritage Lottery Fund Heritage Grants (over £100,000)
  • Technical issues including collection management strategies and policies, collection development planning, action plans for cataloguing and disaster management
  • Improving access to collections
  • Collaborative working with other departments and organisations
  • Improving access to collections.

Elizabeth is also very experienced in consultation with all stakeholder types including trustees, directors, front-line staff, volunteers, users and depositors. She is also a highly experienced facilitator with particular strengths in visioning and issue analysis.

Elizabeth is a very experienced professional and active within the archive profession. Her professional posts include:

  • Member, Archive Service Accreditation Committee
  • Chair, UK Committee for UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme
  • Mentor and Expert Adviser, The Heritage Lottery Fund
  • Assessor and Mentor, Registered Members Scheme, The Archives and Records Association
  • Member, Archives and Records Association
  • Member, Institute of Consulting
Rob Shepherd

Rob Shepherd


I graduated with a degree in Fine Art and Printing in 1973 and afterwards took up bookbinding as an evening class student at Camberwell College of Art. I didn’t choose bookbinding as a career path; I simply saw it as a way of learning how to repair my own books but I soon got hooked. After a very short spell as a delivery driver for a firm that made artificial limbs, and an even shorter spell teaching in a girl’s school, I headed for the altogether calmer world of restoring antiquarian books.

I started my own workshop in 1976, and over the next thirteen years the business grew to the stage where in 1988 we incorporated the company and moved into an old shop premises in Rochester Row, Victoria. In time we took over the premises next door and the business continued to grow steadily. Then in 1998 we had the chance of buying the old bookbinding firms of Sangorski & Sutcliffe and Zaehnsdorf.

I had long admired the work of the so called trade binders, particularly those ‘West End’ firms who were capable of producing such large quantities of beautifully bound books. Taking over two of the most famous names in London bookbinding was (and still is), an enormous privilege. We have now celebrated 26 years running a bookbinding business in London.

Everyone at Shepherds is passionate about driving up our own standards of craftsmanship and most importantly creating opportunities for others to learn bookbinding and conservation skills. We are facing a serious skill shortage in this area, so we have now set up our own training facility in Wiltshire where we now offer City & Guilds qualifications in bookbinding.

In addition to my duties as Managing Director of a growing company I am also an active member of the Stationers Guild and I am treasurer of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association.