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Under conservation covers all measures that the long-term conservation of museum, library and archival materials are used. A distinction is made between preventive preservation to secure the state of preservation, and conservation and restoration as the repair of damaged library and archive material.


Among the libraries, the state and national libraries in particular are responsible for the permanent storage of literature. But also beyond these archive libraries there are valuable library holdings that require conservation measures. According to the archival laws of the federal and state governments, archives are obliged to “permanently secure” the archival material placed in their care. Some archival laws specify that the archival material must be “preserved in its original form”. In some cases, they also allow the information contained to be archived in other forms, provided that the original cannot be preserved or only with considerable effort. The preservation of the holdings must take place in accordance with the state of the art in the archives. First and foremost, the relevant DIN resp. ISO standards (DIN ISO 11799, 16245, 9706, 11798 and 6199), in a broader sense to the archival specialist literature and here again especially to the recommendations of the "Conference of the heads of the archival administrations of the federal and state governments" (KLA) and the “Subcommittee on Preservation of the Federal Conference of Local Archives at the German Association of Cities ” (BKK).

Damage patterns

Book pages with paper disintegration due to ink damage

The long-term preservation of archive material is threatened by a multitude of endogenous and exogenous dangers. The damage can occur through mechanical, chemical and biological processes, as well as through neglect, theft and vandalism. In the case of major damage events, such as the collapse of the Cologne City Archives or the fire of the Duchess Anna Amalia Library , such damage often occurs in a mixed situation.

  • chemical damage, e.g. B.
  • Paper fish
    In contrast to other fish, paper fish do well in a dry magazine climate with approx. 50% relative humidity
    biological damage, e.g. B.
  • mechanical damage, e.g. B.
    • Cracks from use or transport
    • Abrasion or chipping of writing materials
    • Glass breakage on photo plates
    • Tearing off of the spine by improper removal
    • Broken spine of the book due to wide opening angles (180 °) in manuscripts and old prints
    • Damage from unsuitable aids such as paper clips , staples, sticky notes , unsuitable erasers
    • Damage to the spine of the book from self-adhesive signature labels
    • Damage to book pages from water-based library ownership stamps, the color of which can "bleed" and which sometimes penetrate to the back of the page
  • theft
  • vandalism
  • Major loss events such as fires

The quantitatively most significant damage in modern archives is the decay of acidic paper, which affects almost all documents from the period between the middle of the 19th century and the end of the 20th century. In second place there is mechanical damage due to missing packaging and improper use, in third and fourth place there is the presence of metal parts and ink corrosion. Damage caused by mold or fire damage is relatively rare, but can quickly lead to the destruction of the archived material.

Preventive conservation

Book cradle
Schematic representation of a book cradle (below)

Preventive maintenance begins with the creation of problem awareness among archive staff and administration and progresses with the planning of the preservation, the professional packaging and storage up to the care for a careful use. In this way, the usually considerable effort required for conservation and restoration measures can be effectively minimized. The planning of the maintenance of the stock initially includes the design of the storage conditions in the store, furthermore the regular monitoring for damage risks, up to the prioritization of certain measures against the background of limited resources. Last but not least, it is necessary to take precautions for emergencies.

Since a large part of the damage patterns are promoted by high humidity and heat, the magazine climate is of central importance under the storage conditions. By maintaining a stable room temperature of approx. 18 ° C and a relative humidity of approx. 50%, infestation by mold and insects can be prevented and the endogenous decay processes in the archive material can be slowed down. These climate values ​​must be checked regularly and, if necessary, adjusted by ventilation or air conditioning. For some, especially photographic materials, however, clearly different climatic values ​​are optimal. An equally effective measure of preservation is the re-embedding of transferred documents. The material is not only cleaned and the causes of damage such as iron parts, transparent foils and adhesive strips removed, but it is also protected against external influences by packaging.

Supervision of the reading room, provision of book cradles and protective gloves as well as the production of digital copies or microfilms can prevent archive material from being damaged through use. Furthermore, the archive material must be secured against theft, fire and water damage.

As part of the pre-archiving support for producers of written material, archives should also urge the use of age-resistant writing and writing materials, as described in the DIN ISO 9076 and 11798 standards.

Conservation and restoration

Restoration measures are almost always associated with far greater costs than measures for preventive conservation. It must therefore be ensured in any case that the causes of the damage are eliminated before such measures. The archive material to be restored must then be prioritized. The decisive factor is the risk of further damage - e.g. B. the falling apart of the book block in books with damaged covers - and the impending loss of information. Above all, the aim should be the usability less the aesthetic appearance of the object. In a third step, the appropriate restoration measure must be selected. Costs, usability and demands on the authenticity of the archival material must be weighed up. Because of the high costs, even for mass processes such as paper deacidification , the raising of funds for necessary restoration measures and targeted public relations work ( fundraising ) are of great importance.

Since 2011, the Coordination Office for the Preservation of Written Cultural Assets (KEK) has been devoting itself nationwide to questions of preservation and advocating approaches to safeguarding the written cultural heritage in libraries, archives, museums and other institutions. The KEK was founded on the initiative of the former Minister of State for Culture Bernd Neumann and jointly set up by the federal and state governments at the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation and located at the Berlin State Library .

Digital preservation

With the adoption of digital documents, archives today face the challenge of developing completely new concepts for preservation. Whereas the preservation of the substance of the information carrier was in the foreground for analog archival material, the preservation of the significant properties of a digital representation is now the criterion for successful preservation: In the case of digital media, it is not enough to just keep the bit sequence of the medium on a data carrier Rather, the rapid development of the software necessary for its interpretable representation requires that this also be included in the considerations for preservation. The most important concepts in the field of digital preservation are emulation (the reconstruction of an application environment to ensure the display of file formats that are no longer supported) and migration (the continuous conversion of outdated file formats into formats that can be displayed in current application environments). Supporting the standardization of archivable formats (e.g. PDF / A) and the inclusion of the digital archive material in metadata-enriched packages (e.g. Archival Information Package, AIP) is aimed for.


  • Dirk Barth among other things: Conservation (= writings of the University Library Marburg. Volume 99). University Library, Marburg 2000, ISBN 978-3-8185-0296-6 .
  • Stephan Brunnert: Fields of action for preventive conservation . In: Markus Walz (Ed.): Museum manual. History, tasks, perspectives . Stuttgart, JB Metzler 2016, pp. 222-235.
  • Andrea Giovannini: De tutela librorum. La conservation des livres et des documents d'archives / The preservation of books and archive materials . Translated from the French by Marie Besson. 4th edition. here + now, Baden 2010, ISBN 978-3-03919-144-4 .
  • Mario Glauert, Sabine Ruhnau (Ed.): Keeping, Securing, Receiving. Handouts for the preservation of holdings in archives (= publications of the Brandenburg State Office for Archives and Public Libraries . Volume 1) (= Publications of the Brandenburg State Association of the Association of German Archivists eV Volume 2), State Department for Archives and Public Libraries in the Brandenburg State Main Archive, Potsdam, 2005 .
  • DIN German Institute for Standardization eV (Ed.), Rainer Hofmann (Ed.) And Hans-Jörg Wiesner (Ed.): Preservation in archives and libraries . Beuth Verlag, Berlin, 2009.
  • Maria Kobold, Jana Moczarski: Conservation. A guide for administration, archives and libraries . 3. revised Edition. Hessian Historical Commission, Darmstadt 2012. Online
  • Klaus Roth: Paper conservation - chemistry versus paper disintegration . In: Chemistry in our time , 40 , 2006, 54–62; doi: 10.1002 / ciuz.200600376 .
  • Thomas Wurzel (Red.): Torn - gnawed - disintegrated. Inventory damage in libraries. Hessian libraries are looking for book sponsors . Published by the Sparkassen-Kulturstiftung Hessen-Thüringen. 2004, [ [1] ].
  • Hans Lochmann (ed.): Standards for museums. Published by the German Museum Association and ICOM. 2006. Online
  • Heike Neuroth, Achim Oßwald, Regine Scheffel, Stefan Strathmann, Mathias Jehn (eds.): Nestor manual. A small encyclopedia of digital long-term archiving , online
  • Hartmut Weber: Preservation of holdings as a specialist and management task , in: Preservation of holdings in archives and libraries (= workbooks of the State Archive Administration of Baden-Württemberg . Series A. Volume 2). Edited by Hartmut Weber. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1992, 135-155. (PDF file; 2.5 MB)

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Norbert Reimann: Practical archival studies. A guide for specialists in media and information services specializing in archives . Ardey-Verl, Münster 2014, ISBN 978-3-87023-366-2 , pp. 337 .
  2. Rolf Griebel, Hildegard Schäffler, Konstanze Söllner (eds.): Praxishandbuch library management . Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2015, p. 825 f .
  3. BArchG, Section 3, Paragraph 1
  4. ArchG NRW, Section 5 Paragraph 2
  5. Sebastian Barteleit: Conservation and Restoration . In: Irmgard Christa Becker, Clemens Rehm (Ed.): Archive law for practice. A manual . MUR-Verlag, Munich 2017, p. 91 f .
  6. Oliver Jann, Jens Rockstroh, Olaf Wilke, Reinhard Noske, Doris Brödner: Development of a test method and investigations to limit emissions from printers and copiers in the context of the award of the eco-label (research report 201 95 311/02 / UBA-FB 000510) . 2003 ( [accessed April 29, 2020]).
  7. Volker Hingst: Standards and norms in the field of practical conservation . In: Thomas Kujawinski (Hrsg.): Standards and norms in the everyday life of the archives. 44th Rhenish Archives Day. 10-11 June 2010 in Bonn-Bad Godesberg. Contributions . Habelt-Verlag, Bonn 2011, p. 86 .
  8. Mario Glauert, Sabine Ruhnau: Conservation begins in the head, not in the wallet. Introduction . In: Mario Glauert, Sabine Ruhnau (eds.): Keeping, Securing, Receiving. Handouts for preservation in archives . State department for archives and public libraries in the Brandenburg State Main Archive, Potsdam 2005, p. 9 .
  9. ^ Bruno Klotz-Berendes: Conservation. Mold Infestation In Libraries . In: Library Service . tape 34 , no. 1 , January 2000, ISSN  2194-9646 , p. 51 , doi : 10.1515 / bd.2000.34.1.47 ( [accessed on 29 April 2020]): "From the living conditions of the molds can be the requirements for a preventive grandfathering derived such as cleanliness and relative humidity below 55%, temperature below 25 ° C, constant room climate, if possible use paper that has an alkaline reserve. "
  10. cf. Mario Glauert: Climate measurement and climate regulation in the archive magazine . In: Mario Glauert, Sabine Ruhnau (Hrsg.): Bewahren, Secure, Receive. Handouts for preservation in archives . State department for archives and public libraries in the Brandenburg State Main Archive, Potsdam 2005, p. 57 . For a concise overview s. also Maria Kobold, Jana Moczarski: Conservation. A guide for administration, archives and libraries . 2. revised Edition. Hessian Historical Commission, Darmstadt 2012, p. 59 f .
  11. According to ISO 18911, s. Rainer Hofmann, Hans-Jörg Wiesner: Preservation in archives and libraries . 3rd ext. Edition. Beuth Verlag, Berlin 2011, p. 400 f .
  12. Archive speakers conference: Use of age-resistant paper in public administrations. Common recommendation . In: The archivist . tape 68 , no. 1 , 2015, p. 38-40 .
  13. ^ Archive speakers conference: Restoration and conservation in the state archive administrations - measures and expenditure . 2002, p. 4th f .
  14. Heike Neuroth u. a .: Nestor manual: a small encyclopedia of digital long-term archiving; [within the scope of the project: Nestor - Competence Network Long-Term Archiving and Long-Term Availability of Digital Resources for Germany] . 2nd Edition. Hülsbusch, 2009, ISBN 978-3-940317-48-3 ( online ).

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