The Commission on Preservation and Access

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The Original Document
1.1 Medium
1.2 Format
1.3 Periodicity
1.4 Properties
1.5 Condition
1.6 Content

1.5. Document Condition

Condition refers to the physical state of the document compared with its state when originally published. The following presents only those characteristics of the physical state of a document that are pertinent to the main thrust of this Glossary, that is, to the paper milieu.

1.5.1. Archival

A document that can be expected to be kept permanently as closely as possible to its original form. An archival document medium is one that can be "expected" to retain permanently its original characteristics (such expectations may or may not prove to be realized in actual practice). A document published in such a medium is of archival quality and can be expected to resist deterioration.

Permanent paper is manufactured to resist chemical action so as to retard the effects of aging as determined by precise technical specifications. Durability refers to certain lasting qualities with respect to folding and tear resistance.

See also 3.3.5.

1.5.2. Non-Archival

A document that is not intended or cannot be expected to be kept permanently, and that may therefore be created or published on a medium (1.1) that cannot be expected to retain its original characteristics and resist deterioration.

1.5.3. Acidic

A condition in which the concentration of hydrogen ions in an aqueous solution exceeds that of the hydroxyl ions. In paper, the strength of the acid denotes the state of deterioration that, if not chemically reversed (3.1.2), will result in embrittlement (1.5.4). Discoloration of the paper (for example, yellowing) may be an early sign of deterioration in paper.

1.5.4. Brittle

That property of a material that causes it to break or crack when depressed by bending. In paper, evidence of deterioration usually is exhibited by the paper's inability to withstand one or two (different standards are used) double corner folds. A corner fold is characterized by bending the corner of a page completely over on itself, and a double corner fold consists of repeating the action twice.

1.5.5. Other

There are many other conditions that characterize the condition of a document. Bindings of books, for example, may have deteriorated for a variety of conditions. Non-paper documents may exhibit a variety of conditions (see, for example, 3.3.5 for a discussion of the concept of "Useful Life"). However, with the focus on paper original documents and on media conversion technologies for preservation, a full analysis of document condition would be beyond the scope of this Glossary.

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