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Subject: AIC Code of Ethics revision

AIC Code of Ethics revision

From: Walter Henry <whenry>
Date: Wednesday, June 16, 1993
As most of you know, the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice
("Guidelines for Practice" in the new draft) is in the process of being
revised. After several years of hard work, the Ethics and Standards
Committee is about to prepare a final draft, to be submitted to the
membership at next year's meeting and they have asked that comments and
suggestions be sent to them in the next few weeks, before work on the
new draft begins. The text of the current draft is presented below.

** Please post your suggestions/comments to the DistList asap and,
** in 10 days, I will forward all the contributions to the committee.

I think it would be a good idea if those who are not AIC members would
indicate that (I'm certain the committee will be most interested in the
response of allied professionals to the draft).

At this year's meeting there was a discussion session to consider the
current draft and Paul Banks raised a crucial issue. The current draft
does not address the fact that many of us work with materials whose
value as individual items may not be significant, but in the aggregate
(i.e. as collection(s)) take on significance. Collections-oriented
conservation is obviously at the root of contemporary library and
archives practice, but is also of concern to other specialties
(ethnographic collections and natural history collections come to mind
immediately).  Although the committee has done a superb job at reducing
the code's historical bias towards certain conservation specialties, it
has not gone far enough in this regard.

Now the draft code does not say anything that explicitly restricts the
scope of conservation activities to single (autonomous) objects, and
when I read it, my first impulse was to accept this and assume that
Specialty Group commentaries (see below) would provide appropriate text
in support of conservation of collections, but the remarks of a number
of conservators during the discussion in Denver have caused me to
reconsider that. A simple example typifies the problem. For example, a
conservator asked that the language concerning photographic
documentation be strengthened (i.e. that photodocumentation be required
outright). While perfectly sensible for, say, a paintings practice, this
makes little sense for a collection-oriented practice, nor indeed for
single-item practice involving an object whose primary significance does
not reside in its image. A simple statement in the Code in support of
the concept of collections conservation (and please note that, despite
the current fashion, I am *not* using this term as a euphemism for
library circulating collection repair) would provide a foundation from
which the Specialty commentaries could work to resolve such issues;
without such a statement, collections-oriented conservators are
effectively disfranchised and the code's historical biases will continue
in a subtler but no less damning form.

                   Conservation DistList Instance 7:4
                  Distributed: Thursday, June 17, 1993
                        Message Id: cdl-7-4-001
Received on Wednesday, 16 June, 1993

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