Returning Books to an Age of Innocence: How Conservation and Preservation Techniques Ensure the Stability and Accessibility of Archived Materials
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One principal goal of the Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections (MASC) is to ensure that archived materials are readily available to researchers. Even fragile materials must be in a stable and functional condition for researchers to effectively utilize them without causing damage. This issue raises concerns about how best to preserve the integrity of rare books, manuscripts, prints, drawings, maps, and photographs while still ensuring adequate research access. This session describes the chief techniques necessary for proper preservation and conservation of paper documents. The primary objective of conservation treatment is to stabilize an item, prevent further damage and deterioration, and improve the condition of the item for future use by researchers. Through the use of modern conservation techniques, it is possible to repair items to a stable restored condition. A sample of treatments performed include constructing new cases or bindings, reattaching loose or broken boards, sewing pamphlets and textblocks, mending tears, cleaning dirty documents, reattaching loose pages, repairing cracked bindings, removing old or damaging repairs, creating Mylar encapsulations, and constructing acid-free custom enclosures. Fundamentally, the goal of repairing items in MASC is to stabilize them as well as allow access for future researchers. Through the continuous application of preservation and conservation treatments to the MASC collections, the archives will continue to maintain the historical originality of items while ensuring their accessibility.