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Subject: Marking books and manuscripts

Marking books and manuscripts

From: Gregor Trinkaus-Randall <gregor.trinkaus-randall>
Date: Thursday, June 24, 1999
I was a bit disappointed to read the comments of the previous
submitters regarding the issue of marking documents and books.  I do
not think that anyone wants to mark materials because, no matter how
it is done, it creates an aesthetic concern let alone a potential
conservation problem if done improperly.  However, there are two
issues which I think have lead the Committee to continue to
recommend marking.

In the first place, as Hilary Kaplan mentions, probably the best
overall way to protect collections is through policies and
procedures, a close adherence to them, and to continual vigilance
when people are using collections.  Unfortunately, I am still
flabbergasted at the number of institutions that do not follow even
basic security rules and regulations in providing access to their
materials.  Many of these institutions rely either on physical
security measures (motion detectors, etc.) or on the good will of
the researchers to protect their collections.

In the second place, marking is not meant to be done on all
materials but on those determined to be most valuable and most apt
to be the targets of thieves.  There are too many instances where
materials have been stolen, in some cases from institutions with
excellent security procedures, never to be seen again.  These
materials may well have been sold on the market because most often
they were not marked. Just look at the number of materials that were
unidentified from Blomberg's cache of stolen materials because they
were not marked. On the other hand, a number of thieves have been
caught and materials retrieved and returned because the materials
they stole were marked.

It will always be a contentious question--"to mark or not to
mark"--but I think that the question should rather be (assuming that
marking can be accomplished in a non-damaging, unobtrusive way as is
recommended) " to lose or not to lose."  The evidence leans heavily
towards marked materials being recovered over the other option.

Gregor Trinkaus-Randall
Preservation Specialist
Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners
648 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02215-2070
617-267-9400, 800-952-7403 (in-state)
Fax: 617-421-9833

                  Conservation DistList Instance 13:3
                  Distributed: Thursday, June 24, 1999
                        Message Id: cdl-13-3-006
Received on Thursday, 24 June, 1999

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