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Subject: AIC Code of Ethics revision

AIC Code of Ethics revision

From: Don Etherington <70304.3023>
Date: Friday, July 2, 1993
Ethics - Section VII Professional Conduct #5

"The Collection Conservation Issue"

Being the one responsible for bringing to the AIC membership the issue
of how a Collection Conservator can be given his/her rightful standing
in the AIC membership listing, specifically P.A. or Fellow, I would like
to highlight a couple of comments prior to the new revision.

I personally feel that the Ethics and Standards Committee are doing a
really fine job in tackling this very difficult area.  So these comments
are to help, maybe, to fine-tune a couple of specific areas and also to
encourage the committee to insert sections in specific areas of the code
that reflect the issues facing the Collection Conservator

Code of Ethics

>V. While circumstances may limit the extent of conservation, the
>quality of conservation must not be compromised. Furthermore, the
>quality of conservation shall not be affected by the value of the
>cultural property.

The decisions on what treatments to perform on groups of material within
a librarian's collection, and the extent of these treatments, are
routinely determined by the actual market value of the material and/or
the importance of the collection to the institution. For example, one
may recommend disbinding and washing the textblock and following
washing, an aqueous deacidification treatment. That treatment proposal
and its associated costs will more than likely be ten times more
expensive than the second alternative which may suggest:  non-aqueous
deacidification treatment without disbinding, a method not so effective
but maybe preferable to doing nothing at all.  One could argue that.
performing safe treatments, but ones less than ideal on a large group of
items, is being very responsible to the institution when funds and staff
expertise are limited. Also in many instances this type of approach
allows for access to material, that was heretofore unavailable because
of condition.

>The conservation professional shall document examination, scientific
>investigation, and treatment and create permanent records and

The collection conservator when assessing a collection's needs, from
either a treatment, change of format, or housing determination will make
recommendations in a report. The conservator will not necessarily carry
out a detailed photographic or treatment record except in a perfunctory

A system of documentation that reflects both the method of treatments
and possible changes to the original may require extensive
documentation. On the other hand, a simple procedure may require only a
short form attached in the back of the volume, or practically no
documentation whatsoever.

A couple of further generalized comments:

Professional Conduct:

>5.  Communication; Communication between the conservation professional
>and the owner or custodian of the cultural property is essential to
>ensure an agreement that reflects shared decisions and realistic

This type of wording is the form that some of the other sections of the
code should emulate.

>23.  Compensation for loss:  Any intervention to compensate for loss
>should be documented in treatment records and reports and should be
>detectable by common methods of examination. Such compensation should
>be reversible and should not falsely modify the known aesthetic,
>conceptual, and physical characteristics of the cultural property,
>especially by removing or obscuring original material.

A modification of the wording in this section needs to recognize the
intervention that some books go through for the long term conservation
of the item.  Example:  When disbinding prior to treatment, some losses
occur to the original binding or structure, however careful one wants to
be.  For the conservator dealing with books, a basic requirement is
that, after treatment, books must function satisfactorily, a requirement
which may require radical changes from the way it was originally bound.

These few comments for possible amendments to the code are listed here
so that persons involved in the various programs of collection
conservation, and in particular the conservator in charge of these
endeavors, can feel comfortable making decisions that are not in
conflict with the professional code of their organization.

Don Etherington
Conservation Division
of Information Conservation, Inc.
6204 Corporate Park Dr.
Browns Summit, NC 27214

                   Conservation DistList Instance 7:9
                  Distributed: Thursday, July 8, 1993
                        Message Id: cdl-7-9-002
Received on Friday, 2 July, 1993

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