Those of you sensitive to damaged books might want to skip this item.
The BBC reports the British Library admits a diary was harmed while in its care. Thinking the British Library could care for the book better than he could, the owner of Thomas Tyldesley’s 18th Century diary gave the book to the library in 1994. Tyldesley was a prominent Jacobite. The book was last known to be in good condition in 2002. It was missing for a while. Moisture, mildew, mold, and an oily substance have damaged the book. Someone replaced the binding, though no one authorized that change. The library has not publicly disclosed details about what happened, but it did conduct an internal investigation. It’s possible a staff member left because of the incident.
Donors often struggle with the decision to give material to a library or archive. Many want to ensure the institution will properly care for the donation. The situation with the diary could potentially dissuade some people from donating items, especially to the British Library, even though it isn’t common to learn about such problems.
Addendum 06/08/09: A concerned reader pointed me to a post on tyldesley family history detailing what happened and the damages to the materials.