Karin Scheper

Karin Scheper was trained as a Book and Paper conservator in Amsterdam. After graduation (1995) she worked at the Municipal Archives in Amsterdam, and in a private workshop, before she set up of the conservation workshop at the University Library of Leiden (2000). Working with the University's internationally well-known Oriental collections, she focused on the materiality of manuscripts from the Islamic world. She completed her PhD (The Islamic Bookbinding Tradition. A Book Archaeological Study) in 2014. For this research into the developments of Islamic bookstructures she received a scholarly honour (the De la Court-prize), awarded by the KNAW (the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences) (2017).

In 2019-2020 Karin received a Bahari Fellowship and worked as a Visiting Scholar in the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford. 


Next to the bench work and the additional tasks a conservator must see to, Karin has always felt that teaching is an important aspect of the profession. She taught at the ICN (the Dutch Institute for Cultural Heritage) and is a guest lecturer for the Book and Paper conservation programme at the University of Amsterdam. She also contributes to courses at Leiden University such as Book and Digital Media studies (Book History), 'Museum Matters' (Art History) and ‘From Inkwell to Internet’ at the School of Middle Eastern Studies. She welcomes interns and has trained students from France, Italy, the UK and the US.

Islamic manuscripts

Her specialised knowledge of the material aspects of manuscripts from the Islamic world is shared at international conferences, through articles, bookchapters, and resulted in the first monograph dedicated to the technical development of the bookbinding tradition in the Islamic world, The Technique of Islamic Bookbinding (Brill Publishers 2015; second revised edition 2018). She partook in the European project Comparative Oriental Manuscript Studies and was a co-opted Board member for The Islamic Manuscript Association. She has given workshops – often in collaboration with Paul Hepworth – at the International Islamic University of Malaysia, in Cambridge, Cairo, Doha, Beirut and Amman, at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto and at West Dean College in the UK.

See the Leiden University website for contact details and her posts at the UBL's Special Collections Blog.

See also Karin's twitter account @karinscheper.