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Subject: Marking books and manuscripts

Marking books and manuscripts

From: Hilary A. Kaplan <hkaplan>
Date: Thursday, June 17, 1999
Maria Fredericks <mf360 [at] columbia__edu> writes

>The security committee of the Association of College and Research
>Libraries (ACRL) has recently published a set of guidelines for
>marking books, manuscripts, and other special collections

Thank you, Maria, for raising the issue of marking library and
archives materials to the attention of this list.  I encountered
ACRL's updated guidelines recently, sadly noting that the guidelines
actually seemed to encourage more marking.

I too, recall, LC discontinued the ink a couple of years ago because
of problems with set time and bleeding.  Rumor had it that the
original formulation was lost and that attempts to reproduce it were
not completely successful. (It is also possible that I just made
this up.)

Nevertheless, the issue of marking materials continually rears its
ugly head.  I am opposed to visible markings which have greater
potential to disfigure than prevent theft.  Disfigurement may result
from the type/components of media used, its interaction with the
substrate (e.g., paper), or the way in which the media is applied.

But I like to think that marking individual items is really
unnecessary if other appropriate security measures are put into
place.  In archives or special collections, these actions will
center around observation and generally limiting access to more than
one folder/volume at a time. Limiting information about the
permanent location of the physical collection is also important. I
am always astounded by how many institutions include a full
description of contents on the outside of document boxes rather than
employing the more "security-minded" location number system.  With
descriptive information in full view, a potential thief will know
exactly where to find a desired item once access to the storage area
is accomplished. The fact is, anyone intent on stealing, will also
probably go to great lengths to obliterate property labeling.

On a more practical note, property stamping is just not the best use
of anyone's time.  (I'm sure we could name dozens of other tasks
that could be performed in lieu of this activity.) Coupled with the
damage potentially done to irreplaceable materials, I hope the ACRL
(prompted by this discussion) will rethink its recommendations.

Hilary A. Kaplan
Georgia Department of Archives and History
330 Capitol Avenue
Atlanta, GA 30334
Fax: 404-651-8471

                  Conservation DistList Instance 13:2
                   Distributed: Monday, June 21, 1999
                        Message Id: cdl-13-2-001
Received on Thursday, 17 June, 1999

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