Accessing Conservation Literature

From Wiki

Often, scholarly resources are not immediately available, but paying for each article can become prohibitively expensive. Fortunately, there are several ways to acquire scholarly articles for personal and professional use. For individuals with access to a major university library system, it can be as simple as using the library web portal to access scholarly content. For those without personal or professional access to such an institution, there are several alternatives available.

Wiki Compiler: Alexander Bero
Wiki Contributors: Katherine Kelly, your name could be here

This material was developed by the Book and Paper Group, but we hope it will be useful to the wider AIC community. If you have any information, especially if it relates to another specialty group, that you would like to contribute, please don't hesitate to add it.

Online Databases

A good place to start your search is on the large online databases, such as the Getty’s AATA or BCIN. Besides being excellent places to start research on any topic in conservation, both of the databases have sections on how to get access to scholarly materials. The AATA’s Help tab has a subsection on obtaining publications, and BCIN has a Document Delivery page with information on how to contact a number of international organizations for publications.

Institutional Access

A quick option is to try your local library. Many public libraries have access to large bodies of scholarly material, either through their own subscription or through partnership with another institution that subscribes. Your local librarian will often be able to tell you very quickly whether they can give you access to a particular journal or resource, and can also be helpful in honing your research questions.

Another option is to try the library of a major educational institution. Many such libraries offer ‘friend of the library’ privileges for a subscription fee. The fee can vary considerably based on the type of privilege desired, the duration of access needed and the institution itself. For example, New York University’s Bobst Library has a Friends of Bobst web page, which explains their cost structure; as of this posting, reading privileges for one academic year costs $375. The Perry-Castaneda Library in Austin Texas allows borrowing privileges to all Texas residents for $100 per year. Check your local institutions’ web pages, or ask at their information desks.

Contacting the Author / Pre-Publication Resources

It is also possible to obtain research papers directly from the author. Many journal publishers allow authors to give away a limited number of copies of their articles for free. For papers with multiple authors, each author may have a number of copies they can distribute. Contacting the authors may yield good results, with the added benefit that you have started a dialog with someone who has performed research in your field of interest. Some academic journals have more generous sharing guidelines for preprints, which are generally versions of an article which is complete, but has not been edited or formatted for publication by the journal. Taylor & Francis, the parent company that publishes the Journal of the American Institute for Conservation, maintains a ‘Sharing your Work’ page, which explains what terminology they use and how authors can share their work outside of JAIC.

Pre-publication versions of articles can sometimes be found on an author’s web page or in a preprint repository. For example, Sarah Reidell maintains a professional web site that includes a publications page, where she gives access to many of her articles. Some preprint repositories such as, and Humanities Commons may also have versions of some articles.

Expanding Your Search

Once you have online access to an article, it is often possible to use that one resource to find additional resources. A backwards citation search looks at all of the works cited by the authors of an article. This is useful to find the history of the subject in question, and directs you towards more foundational research. A forwards citation search will tell you whether a work was cited by later authors in newer works, and can help you understand how research has progressed. Williams Libraries has an excellent explanation of citation searching, but many more can be found.

Journals - General

The following publications are largely peer reviewed, and are an excellent starting point for research into almost any conservation question. Please contact us if you have any publications you think should be added to this list.

American Institute for Conservation (AIC)

Journal of the American Institute for Conservation (JAIC)

1977-2005: open access through CoOL
1960-present: free access for AIC members through Taylor & Francis Online

International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (IIC)

Studies in Conservation

peer-reviewed journal of of The International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (IIC)
free online access for IIC members and by subscription through Taylor & Francis Online

News in Conservation

newsletter of The International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (IIC)
open access

International Council of Museums - Committee for Conservation (ICOM-CC)

ICOM-CC Publications from Triennial Conferences

Copenhagen 2017, Melbourne 2014, Lisbon 2011 available online.

Institute of Conservation (ICON)


Newsletter of the UK-based Institute of Conservation (ICON)
moving paywall. Limited to ICON members for ~2 years. Open access thereafter.

The Journal of the Institute of Conservation

peer-reviewed journal of the UK-based Institute of Conservation (ICON)
Merger of The Conservator (1977-2008), and The Paper Conservator (1976-2007)
free access for ICON members through Taylor & Francis Online


ANAGPIC Student Conference Papers & Posters

The Association of North American Graduate Programs in Conservation (ANAGPIC) organizes an annual conference at which papers and posters are presented
2005 - present: open access through AIC

Conservation Journal

Journal of Victoria and Albert Museum, UK.

WAAC Newsletter

Print and online publication of the Western Association for Art Conservation
1979-present: open access. One year delay after print publication.

Journals - Book and Paper

The following resources are focused on book and paper conservation, but may be useful to anyone in the conservation community. Please contact us if you have any publications you think should be added to this list.

American Institute for Conservation (AIC)

Book and Paper Group Annual (BPG Annual)

Annual publication of the Book and Paper Group of the AIC. Not peer reviewed. Also referred to as the Postprints of the AIC Annual Meeting.
1982 - present. One year after the Annual Meeting: published in print (black and white); Two years after the Annual Meeting: digital copy (in color) available to BPG Members though the AIC Online Community; Three years after the Annual Meeting: open access.

Guild of Bookworkers

Guild of Book Workers Journal

1962 - present. Online 1962-2011.

Guild of Book Workers Newsletter

1976 - present. Online 1994 - present. Few months time lag between print copy and online version.


Abbey Newsletter

1975 - 2002. Most issues available online through CoOL.

Care and Conservation of Manuscripts. Proceedings of the biennial conference.

1994-present. Tables of contents available online from the publisher, Museum Tusculanum Press.

e-Preservation Science

2004 - present. Peer-reviewed, open access. Appears to be ceasing publication in 2018.

Journal of Paper Conservation IADA

peer-reviewed, Taylor and Francis on line; free if IADA member

The New Bookbinder

Annual journal of the UK-based Designer Bookbinders
1981-present. Print only. Index online.


peer-reviewed, licensed access at Degruyter. Abstracts avail at DeepDyve