Contents - Previous - Next


0. Introduction

Every library and archive must determine its own preservation needs from which to develop its own conservation program, because it is impossible for conditions in any two libraries or archives to ever be the same. In order to plan and develop a long range conservation program librarians and archivists must first have knowledge of the physical condition of the materials for which they are responsible. They must also have an understanding of the characteristics of the exterior and interior environments in which they work, and the effects of those environments on the collections, because it is often possible to make changes inside library and archives buildings to minimize or eliminate conditions that endanger the collections. The information necessary to start a conservation program can be obtained by doing a conservation survey of the building and its contents. This study suggests one way to do that.

The objective in preparing this RAMP Study was to demonstrate that there is nothing mysterious about conservation planning and management. It is essentially common sense and intelligent use of the abundant information available in the now voluminous literature on the subject. Some of that is listed in the recommendations for further reading at the end of the text.

This study is concerned primarily with books and documents but the information presented applies equally to all of the other non-book materials found in libraries and archives.

The survey procedure described in the following chapters and in the appendices was developed over a period of many years, first at the Library of the Boston Athenaeum, later at the North East Document Conservation Center in Andover, Massachusetts, and finally at the University of Kentucky's College of Library and Information Science. The method is useful and practical because it does not require that the person using it have the expert knowledge and skills possessed by those with advanced education and training in conservation science.

It must be accepted that conservation is expensive. Anyone who thinks that is not so is naive. It is also a fact that conservation is a lot less expensive when some of it is done in-house by staff, with the aid of volunteers whenever possible. An example is the procedure described in this study, the first step in any conservation program, to determine what the preservation needs of an establishment are. This is one of the least expensive parts of a long range conservation program because the costs are only those for the time of the staff who collect and evaluate the data and the associated stenographic fees.

Because this procedure was developed over a period of years in the United States there is mention of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning machinery and controls and security systems that may not yet be available in some other countries. That does not disqualify the procedure for use in those countries. The information is included in the text because it is important for all librarians and archivists to be informed in those matters in the development of the long range conservation objectives for their establishments.

The information in the literature listed in the bibliography confirms my experience first as Chief Conservator, Library of the Boston Athenaeum; later as Director, North East Document Conservation Center in Andover, Massachusetts; and now as Adjunct Professor of Conservation, College of Library and Information Science, University of Kentucky. I wish to acknowledge with particular thanks the generosity of Mr. William J. Welsh, The Deputy Librarian of Congress, who made available for my information in the preparation of this subject a copy of an unpublished (in September 1987) Library of Congress discussion paper "Preservation Selection Decisions" by Ricky Erway, Office of Planning and Development.

George Martin Cunha
Adjunct Professor of Conservation
University of Kentucky, College of Library and
Information Science
and
Director Emeritus
North East Document Conservation Center


Contents - Previous - Next