If the future is now, can the past also be now ? The developing relationship between conservation and scientific evidence

DREWES, Jeanne (2017) If the future is now, can the past also be now ? The developing relationship between conservation and scientific evidence. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2017 – Wrocław, Poland – Libraries. Solidarity. Society. in Session S08 - Satellite Meeting: Preservation and Conservation Section joint with the Association International Francophone des Bibliothécaires et Documentalistes (AIFBD) in collaboration with the Médiathèque Valais.

Bookmark or cite this item: http://library.ifla.org/id/eprint/1794
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Language: English (Original)
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Abstract

If the future is now, can the past also be now ? The developing relationship between conservation and scientific evidence

This paper will discuss the decision between conservation and loss of evidence that can be obtained from an untouched original. The forensic capacities of today and what might be possible tomorrow make the decision to conserve an historic document much more difficult than in the past. Where once conservation was the decision of choice for valuable historic materials, today that decision is much more complicated. What can be lost by washing paper? Fingerprints that might reveal information about past owners? Dirt that might reveal past locations of the document? Analysis of hide that might reveal where the leather came from and when. Analysis of wooden boards that might show where the wood came from and when it was felled? The forensic tools of today have changed the developing relationship between collections conservation and digitalization. There is a current and still developing process for conservation and digitization. How do you decide what to conserve and what may you lose in the conservation, that is what evidence is removed that might be used now and in the future to determine more about the document in hand. For many years it was thought that conservation was the best means of preserving a valuable volume, but today with scientific methods and non-damaging equipment that can capture information from the very paper fibers it may not be best to do conservation which can change the chemical foundation of the historic paper. It may be better to safely house a damaged volume for study using such instruments as hyperspectral imaging. With digital copies of volumes now available for researchers to compare and investigate multiple volumes of the same title, or parts of a title that now can be brought together, the decisions for conservation versus digitization are much more complex.

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