Book Conservation Wiki

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Welcome to the Book Conservation Wiki, compiled by members of the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) Book and Paper Specialty Group (BPG). The purpose of the Book Conservation Wiki is to act as a collaborative knowledge base for conservators, covering the current and historical techniques, treatments, materials, and technologies of the book conservation field. This page is maintained by the BPG Publications Committee Paper Wiki Coordinator, Michelle C. Smith.

Content published in the Book Conservation Wiki does not constitute an endorsement or approval of the procedure described, as the wiki also contains historical practices that are no longer seen as ethical. The information on this wiki is intended to be used by conservators, museum professionals, and related fields for educational purposes only. It is not designed to substitute for the consultation of a trained conservator. To find a conservator, please visit AIC's Find A Conservator page.

Copyright 2024. The AIC Wiki is a publication of the American Institute for Conservation (AIC). It is published as a convenience for the members of AIC. Publication does not endorse nor recommend any treatments, methods, or techniques described herein. Information on researching with and citing the wiki can be found on the Reference and Bibliography Protocols page.

Cite this page:

American Institute for Conservation (AIC). "Book Conservation Wiki." AIC Wiki. May 21, 2024.

Documentation and Treatment Process for Books
Selection Books may be selected for preservation by conservators, curators, or other custodians of collections based on a variety of factors including value, condition, usability, and cost of treatment.
Assessment and Proposal

A general assessment is performed, and documentation is prepared describing aspects of the book such as covering material (leather, paper, parchment, or cloth), boards, board attachment method, decoration, fastenings and furniture, endbands, endpapers, sewing/leaf attachment method, text/support material, and media. Depending on the book's format and geographic or cultural origin, these features may vary, and documentation forms may be adjusted as needed. Relevant information on the book's textual contents, social context, and cultural significance may also be included. The book's condition is described in detail and documented through photographs. Based on the assessment, a treatment proposal is developed.

Treatment Treatment of books may include actions such as leaf reattachment and sewing repair, board reattachment, washing and alkalinization of the textblock, and more. Leather may be used as a repair material in some cases. For the textblock, treatment techniques may be similar to those used in paper conservation, including surface cleaning; hinge, tape, and adhesive removal; humidification; drying and flattening; sizing and resizing; consolidation, fixing, and facing; mending; and filling losses. All treatment undertaken is documented in the treatment report, including photographic documentation of the work completed.

Treatment and documentation approaches may differ for circulating collections versus special collections. Certain formats such as scrapbooks and atlases, foldouts, and guarded structures may present unique challenges. Different techniques may be used depending on the book's covering material (leather, paper, parchment, or cloth). Treatment approaches may also differ depending the region or culture from which the book originates, and conservators should seek to educate themselves as necessary to perform culturally sensitive treatments.

Housing Protective housings for books may include phase boxes, cloth clamshell boxes, corrugated clamshell boxes, and more. Unbound materials may be encapsulated.

History of the Book Conservation Wiki[edit | edit source]

The Book Conservation Catalog (BCC), begun in 1987 but never published in paper form, was converted into wiki format in 2009 as a subset of the BPG Wiki when the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation (FAIC) launched the AIC Wiki. A full history of the BPG Wiki and the BCC can be found on the History of the BPG Wiki page.

Book and Paper Group Wiki
Wiki Editor Resources

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

Materials and Tips

Annual Meeting Tips Sessions · Materials, Equipment, and Tools · Adhesives · Adhesive Recipes and Tips · Leather Research · Conservation Supply Sources (AIC) · Gels, Thickeners, and Viscosity Modifiers (ECPN)

Examination, Documentation, and Analysis

Glossary of Terms · Visual Examination · Written Documentation · Documentation of Books · Watermarks · Fiber Identification · Spot Tests · Analytical Techniques (PSG) · Non-destructive Testing and Instrumental Analysis (PMG) · Oddy Tests (R&A) · Microchemical Testing (R&A)


Selection for Preservation · Exhibition, Supports, and Transport · Choosing Materials for Storage, Exhibition & Transport (AIC) · Imaging and Digitization · Housings · Matting and Framing · Encapsulation · Collection Care (AIC) · Integrated Pest Management (AIC) · Environmental Guidelines (AIC) · Environmental Monitoring (AIC) · Agents of Deterioration (AIC) · Light (AIC) · Pollutants (AIC)

Disaster Recovery

Emergency Preparedness & Response (AIC) · Stabilizing Wet Paper (AIC) · Stabilizing Wet Books (AIC) · Stabilizing Wet Skin and Leather (AIC) · Mold

Conservation History and Ethics

AIC Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice · Culturally Sensitive Treatment · Conservation Ethics (AIC) · Sustainable Practices (AIC) · History of Conservation and Conservators (AIC) · History of the BPG Wiki

Book Conservation Topics
Structural Elements of the Book

Endpapers · Endbands · Sewing and Leaf Attachment · Book Boards · Board Attachment · Book Decoration · Fastenings and Furniture

Covering Materials

Animal Skin and Leather · Cloth Bookbinding · Paper Bookbinding · Parchment Bookbinding

Treatment Techniques

Washing of Books · Alkalinization of Books · Leaf Attachment and Sewing Repair · Board Reattachment · Use of Leather in Book Conservation

Bookbinding Traditions

Bookbinding Traditions by Region or Culture · East Asian Book Formats · Ethiopian Bindings · Greek-Style Bindings · Western African Books and Manuscripts

Specialized Formats

Scrapbooks · Atlases, Foldouts, and Guarded Structures

Circulating Collections

Circulating Collections · Case Binding