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Subject: Communication of conservation information

Communication of conservation information

From: Alice Carli <ac013e>
Date: Thursday, May 7, 1998
An information management study (which I cannot cite(!) since it was
pinned to the wall in our library staff lounge a while ago and is
now gone) found that while the efficacy of decision making increased
to a point with the amount of information available, beyond that
point it actually decreased again, essentially because the person
making the decision spends too much time and attention trying to
absorb all the information, leaving not enough for analysis of the
particular problem at hand. A nice case in point is Kory Berret's
excellent suggestion, retailed from the experience of the Atwater
Kent Museum, for exhibiting "glass" slides without damaging the
originals. No amount of information about the effect of different
kinds of light on glass slides would suffice to tell someone that
the wisest course is probably to use a reproduction, and too much of
such information might lead to a less desirable solution!

One invaluable contribution of the Cons DistList (as already noted)
is that people who don't have the years of training and experience
necessary to sort through the welter of information now available to
them can benefit directly from the advice of those who do. The
inevitable abuse of the "service" by people who don't want to do
their homework can indeed be viewed with alarm as part of a trend
toward substituting casual consultation for research requiring more
commitment.  I don't think that this "trend" is actually new,
however. People are simply more able to reach the experts--before,
they were asking questions of a more limited group of acquaintances,
and perhaps doing more of the sort of "from scratch"
undocumented(-able) experimentation we all know and hate!

Does CoOL offer (I haven't myself looked) a simple, 1-page
documentation form listing types of information that a trained
conservator would find useful in consultation and that an untrained
"conservator"/restorer/volunteer could determine from observation of
their object or problem, and of the overall situation? This might be
a useful educational tool, besides perhaps cutting down on the
number of responses that have to begin: "In the absence of *these
pieces of information*, I would have to say..."

Alice Carli
Sibley Music Library

                  Conservation DistList Instance 11:92
                  Distributed: Thursday, May 14, 1998
                       Message Id: cdl-11-92-010
Received on Thursday, 7 May, 1998

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