Preservation Procedures Manual
Basic Principles of Physical Treatment
There are six basic principles that form the framework for all physical treatment activities in the Preservation Unit. They are access and public service, respect for the integrity of the original item, permanence, durability, one-time-only treatment, and cost-effectiveness. These principles are described in greater detail in the following sections of the Handbook
- Access and Public Service
This most fundamental principle is at the core of all physical treatment activities. Materials are tracked while they are being treated and are made available for use as soon as possible. Treatments are performed with respect to both patron needs and long term preservation. Concerns such as open ability, ease of photocopying, and strong leaf attachment to retain pages are paramount. Retrieval of in-process materials for patrons is a high priority.
- Respect for Integrity of Original Item
Whenever possible the original physical structure of our materials is preserved. Repairs are made using the same sewing signatures , adhesives or page size as the original. In this way the material will have maximum open ability and more permanence. Also from a Book Arts perspective, it is a means to preserve the record of book production techniques.
Techniques and materials used in physical treatments are designed and chosen to produce physically and chemically stable items. For example, using alkaline (not acidic) papers and adhesives which will retain their long-term flexibility. While permanence is important, another core principle in Preservation is that all treatments should be reversible. This leaves an open door for future treatment options that become available.
Methods and materials used in physical treatment are selected to provide maximum strength for safe use and storage. For example, "heavy-duty", pyroxylin coated buckram (Group F buckram) is used in commercial binding for all periodicals, and custom bound monographs. Similarly, the weight and thickness of boards used in pamphlet covers is heavy enough to protect thin materials in use, or on the shelf with much heavier items.
- One-Time-Only Treatment
Although occasionally compromised through respect for the integrity of the original material, this principle is designed to prevent repeated treatments of the same item. The volume of work required to preserve and protect millions of pieces in a research collection makes multiple treatments impossible.
The preceding principles, which provide the best long-term protection possible, produce the most cost-effective treatments. However, compromises in these principles are made to insure mass treatment of all items. For example, commercial economy bindings are covered in lighter cloth than periodicals, and custom monographs in order to stretch binding budgets to include treatments for all new materials.