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Subject: Terminology


From: Richard Pearce-Moses <rpm>
Date: Wednesday, April 21, 2004
As some of you may know, I am revising the Society of American
Archivists' glossary.  It's a daunting task, but nearly complete.  I
expect an exposure draft to be on the society's web site in a couple
of months.

I have put off a few thorny definitions to the end. I am turning to
this group for help with two definitions.  I do so with some
trepidation, as I suspect the topic could easily be controversial.
(Like, does archive(s) end in an ess or not ;^)

I am trying to discern the difference and relationship between
conservation and preservation.  I have listed below the draft
entries for both.  I would appreciate your comments on these
definitions.  If you will send them to me individually, I will
summarize for the list.

If there are authoritative definitions, I have not found them. (Or,
if I found them, I didn't recognize them as such.)  References

Thanks for your assistance.


    RT: preservation
    RT: restoration

    Definition   (Status: Approved - 2003-04-21)

    n. 1. The repair or stabilization of materials through chemical
    or physical treatment to ensure that they survive in their
    original form as long as possible. - 2. The professional
    discipline of conserving materials.


        Conservation counters existing damage, as distinguished from
        preservation, which attempts to prevent damage. Conservation
        does not always eliminate evidence of damage; restoration
        includes techniques to return materials to their original
        appearances (which may include fabrication of missing



    RT: alteration
    RT: conservation
    RT: immutability
    RT: security

    Definition   (Status: Draft - 2003-11-15)

    n. 1. The process of protecting materials from deterioration or
    damage; the non-invasive treatment of fragile documents. - 2. To
    keep from harm, injury, decay, or destruction. - 3. Law--An
    order issued by a court designed to prevent the spoliation of
    materials potentially relevant to litigation and subject to

    - v. 4. To keep for some period of time; to set aside for future
    use. - 5. Conservation--To take action to prevent deterioration
    or loss.


        Preservation (4) is used in many public records laws to
        distinguish records from non-records; records are those
        materials that warrant preservation, that are set aside
        (usually by being filed). Other materials that are not set
        aside for subsequent use do not fall within the scope of
        that legal definition. In this context, preservation is
        roughly synonymous with filing, with no connotation of
        permanent preservation.


        CJS (Records (Section 32)).  A public officer, by virtue of
        his office, is the legal custodian of all papers, books, and
        records pertaining to his office. It is his duty to preserve
        the public records, and to ensure that nobody alters or
        destroys them. He is also responsible for delivery of such
        documents to his successor. The law presumes that a public
        officer will properly perform his duty as to the care,
        management, and control of records, and their preservation,
        and if a particular paper is not found in a public office
        where, if in existence, it ought to be, it will be presumed
        that it never existed.

        Conway, Rationale.  In the early years of modern archival
        agencies--prior to World War II--preservation simply meant
        collecting. The sheer act of pulling a collection of
        manuscripts from a barn, a basement, or a parking garage and
        placing it intact in a dry building with locks on the door
        fulfilled the fundamental preservation mandate of the

        Conway, Rationale.  Digital preservation typically centers
        on the choice of interim storage media, the life expectancy
        of a digital imaging system, and the expectation to migrate
        the digital files to future systems while maintaining both
        the full functionality and the integrity of the original
        digital system.

        Skupsky and Mantaia, Law, Records (p. 74).  The duty to
        preserve records during the pendency of litigation overrides
        any business procedures that may be in place for destruction
        of records, including otherwise appropriate destruction
        under a records retention program. Once the duty to preserve
        is in effect, a duty also arises to notify appropriate
        organization personnel of the need to preserve relevant

        Zublake IV (p. 12).  The scope of a party's preservation
        obligation can be described as follows: Once a party
        reasonably anticipates litigation, it must suspend its
        routine document retention/destruction policy and put in
        place a 'litigation hold' to ensure the preservation of
        relevant documents.

Richard Pearce-Moses
Director of Digital Government Information
Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records
Fax: 602-542-4972

                  Conservation DistList Instance 17:67
                 Distributed: Wednesday, April 28, 2004
                       Message Id: cdl-17-67-027
Received on Wednesday, 21 April, 2004

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