Module 6: Preservation & Conservation
A significant part of information science is preservation and conservation. Information bearing
items, whether stone tablets, clay statues, papyrus scrolls, etc., are subject to the ravages of
time, nature, and human carelessness. Preserving them for posterity has been one of the most
important roles for information specialists. There are two basic types of preservation: care of the
physical object and care of its information.
What are preservation and conservation?
Preservation and conservation is a field within information science that aims to, essentially,
preserve and conserve information and the information storage media. Media formats include,
but are not limited to, paper, film, photographs, artwork, digital formats, and audio tape. The
terms preservation and conservation are often incorrectly used interchangeably. In reality,
preservation typically precedes conservation.
refers to the steps taken to prolong
the life of an object, whereas
refers to actions taken to restore damage caused by
any deteriorating factors. Please read the
Definitions of Conservation
from the American
Institute for Conservation for specific preservation and conservation definitions.
Common problems resulting in the detioration or destruction of information storage media
include the following:
can cause paper to bleach, to turn yellow, to darken, to embrittle (it weakens the fibers in the
can cause dyes in paper, photographs, and artwork to fade or change color;
can serve as a catalyst for chemical reactions, resulting in deteriorating of paper or ink.
Because heat catalyzes chemical reactions, heat can increase the rate of deterioration.
An increase in heat causes the relative humidity to decrease, so air will hold more moisture.
Many pests thrive in higher temperature.
Temperatures that are too low can cause materials to dry out and become brittle
Relative humidity will rise, causing condensation. See "Moisture" for more information about