From Wiki

Book and Paper Group Wiki > Book Conservation Wiki > Documentation

"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: Stephanie Gowler, Laura McCann, Susan Russick, please add your name here

Copyright 2019. 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. There is an ongoing project to update the BPG Wiki. We welcome contributions and feedback. If you would like to get involved in this effort, please contact the wiki team 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



  • 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



AIC Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice
Parts I, VI, and VII.

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

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

Commentaries to the Guidelines for Practice
Commentaries 24-28

ConservationSpace [1]
Conservation Online, Documentation Resource List

Greenfield, Jane. ABC of Bookbinding. New York: Oak Knoll Press, 1998.

A glossary of book binding terms, including illustrations.

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

McCann, Laura, "Conservation Documentation in Research Libraries," Library Resources & Technical Services 57, no. 1 (2013).

Written Documentation. Book and Paper Group Wiki.

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, ed. The AIC Guide to Digital Photography and Conservation Documentation American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works: Washington, D.C., 2008.

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

Glossary of Terms

Ligatus Language of Bookbindings

Book and Paper Group Wiki
Using the Wiki

·Contributors Toolbox ·Reference and Bibliography Protocols ·Accessing Conservation Literature (AIC) ·Help Wanted ·Template for New BPG Chapter

Materials and Tips

·Annual Meeting Tips Sessions ·Materials, Equipment, and Tools ·Adhesive Recipes and Tips
·Gels, Thickeners, and Viscosity Modifiers (ECPN) ·Oddy Tests (R&A) ·Instrumental Analysis (Paintings) ·Technical Examination (Paintings) ·Microchemical Testing (R&A)


·Selection for Preservation ·Exhibition, Supports, Transport ·Imaging and Digitization ·Housings ·Encapsulation ·Integrated Pest Management (AIC) ·Environmental Guidelines (AIC) ·Environmental Monitoring (AIC) ·Agents of Deterioration (AIC) ·Light Levels (AIC) ·Pollutants and Contaminants (AIC) ·Emergency Preparedness & Response (AIC)

Conservation History and Ethics

·AIC Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice ·Culturally Sensitive Treatment ·Conservation Ethics (AIC) ·History of Conservation and Conservators (AIC)