BPG Documentation of Books

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"A written record should be made any time that cultural property is examined, analyzed, sampled, treated, altered, and/or damaged and when cultural property is temporarily under the care or study of the conservation professional."

"Certain circumstances may affect the extent or form of documentation as described above. Among these are: disaster response; impending destruction; emergency treatment; minor remedial treatment; mass treatment (i.e., identical or similar routine treatment carried out on batches of collection materials); collection assessments and surveys; preventive care/cyclical maintenance.”

From Commentary 24, Commentaries to the Guidelines for Practice

Original Compilers: Stephanie Gowler and Susan Russick
Wiki Contributors: Jennifer Evers, Stephanie Gowler, Laura McCann, Susan Russick, please add your name here

Copyright 2020. The Book and Paper Group Wiki is a publication of the Book and Paper Group of the American Institute for Conservation. It is published as a convenience for the members of the Book and Paper Group. Publication does not endorse nor recommend any treatments, methods, or techniques described herein. Please follow these instructions for citing the BPG Wiki, keeping in mind that the Wiki is a work in progress and is frequently updated. The BPG Wiki coordinators can be reached at [email protected].

Factors to Consider

Intended Use

  • Level of detail
  • Survey
  • Item level


  • Grouping of objects
  • Single item
  • Batch
  • Mass
  • Disaster

Intended Audience

  • Conservators
  • Conservator carrying out treatment
  • Future conservators
  • Conservation students and teachers


  • Non-conservators
  • Curators/Custodians
  • Scholars

Resources

Format

  • Label or stamp
  • Annotated graphic
  • Checklist Style
  • Narrative

Future Access

  • Paper based
  • Computer assisted – label all metadata

Permanence of Written Record or Report

From Commentary 28:
“Handwritten and printed documentation must be produced on and with permanent, stable media, and be legible."
“If documentation is created using electronic media, the conservation professional must recognize that the long-term maintenance of these records requires regular proactive measures. A comprehensive plan for long-term storage of digital records must be established.”

Contents of Report


All components of documentation should be clearly labeled, including metadata for digital image files.

  • Item identification and Administrative information
  • Purpose of documentation
  • Name of documentor
  • Date of documentation
  • Object identification
  • Accession number or call number
  • Owner/custodian
  • Maker/origin
  • Subject/title/scientific classification
  • Measurements
  • Marks/labels
  • Date of creation
  • Any legal or contractual requirements
  • Description Reports – The materials, components and techniques used to create each part of the volume.
  • Textblock
  • Support
  • Media
  • Collation
  • Endsheets
  • Leaf attachment
  • Spine shaping
  • Spine lining
  • Edge treatment
  • Boards and their attachment
  • Covering materials and decoration
  • Original housing
  • Condition Reports
  • Presence of foreign substances
  • Change in appearance
  • Structural change
  • Testing Results
  • Treatment Proposals – A description of proposed treatments.
  • Treatment Reports – The actual treatment that occurred, identifying all materials removed from or introduced into the object.
  • Housing

Special Considerations

Photographic Documentation

Surveys

Bibliography


AIC Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice

Parts I, VI, and VII.

Appelbaum, Barbara. 2007. Conservation Treatment Methodology. London: Elsevier.

Offers a systematic approach to decision-making for conservation treatments. Chapters 13 and 14 specifically address treatment documentation.

Commentaries to the Guidelines for Practice of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works

Commentaries 24-28.

Conservation Online, Documentation Resource List. Accessed March 27, 2020.

ConservationSpace. Accessed March 27, 2020.

Conservation Space is a web-based, end-to-end module designed for the needs of conservation experts and conservation departments at galleries and museums. Funded by Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and developed with the assistance of the National Gallery of Art, this document and process management module gives conservation experts the ability to store information, annotate images with Mirador Image Viewer, collaborate on projects, and create reports all in one place.

Greenfield, Jane. 1998. ABC of Bookbinding: A Unique Glossary with over 700 Illustrations for Collectors and Librarians. New Castle, Delaware and New York : Oak Knoll Press / The Lyons Press.

Hinz, Jim, and Babette Gehnrich. 2006. "Documenting Library Conservation Treatments: Using the 583 Action Note Field in the MARC Records." Book and Paper Group Annual 25: 59–64.

McCann, Laura. 2013. "Conservation Documentation in Research Libraries: Making the Link with MARC Data." Library Resources & Technical Services 57(1): 30-51. Accessed March 27, 2020.

BPG Written Documentation. Book and Paper Group Wiki.

BPG Visual Examination. Book and Paper Group Wiki.

Roberts, Matt T. and Don Etherington. Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology. Drawings by Margaret R. Brown.

Warda, Jeffrey. 2011. The AIC Guide to Digital Photography and Conservation Documentation, 2nd Edition. American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works: Washington, D.C.

Includes current best practices information on image capture, naming, and saving.

Glossary of Terms


Ligatus Language of Bookbindings. Accessed March 27, 2020.

The Language of Bindings Thesaurus (LoB) is a thesaurus of bookbinding terms for book structures dating from the ninth to the nineteenth century. This project has been partially funded by the AHRC. Contributions to the thesaurus have been made by a number of Contributors during 3 workshops.
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