The Physical Deterioration of Books: Preservation Principles

By Kurmo Konsa.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Accurate prediction of the current and future conditions of printed materials in libraries using condition surveys data is crucial for developing appropriate proactive maintenance and conservation strategies. The need for the development of standardized approaches to deterioration prediction of printed materials has been recognized in the literature for decades. The main reasons for this lack of deterioration models, include: (i) Complexity of deterioration problem and lack of understanding of the degradation mechanisms affecting various materials and constructions of printed materials; and (ii) lack of reliable quantitative approaches. This study presents a Markov model for the structural deterioration of books. A Markov deterioration model is based on the assumption that the condition of a book can be described in terms of a limited number of condition states. Transition probabilities link the current state with a maintenance action to a future state. A transition probability is defined as the probability that a book will move from one state to another (same or worse one) depending on the action taken (including “no action”). Because a Markov deterioration model is condition-based, it is quite flexible in adapting it to visual inspection data. The Markovian modeling requires only limited data on the condition of books at two or more points in time, in order to derive the probabilities of transition from one state to other states having the same or lower condition ratings. This transition time is in this study 15 years. The proposed model is applied and evaluated using the condition data of books at Tartu University Library.

Keywords: Book, Deterioration, Markovian Modeling, Preservation

The International Journal of the Book, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp.85-98. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 524.805KB).

Dr. Kurmo Konsa

Associated Professor, Chair of Archival Studies, Tartu University, Tartu, Estonia

Kurmo Konsa was born on the 31st of the August 1965 at Tartu, Estonia. He is an Associated Professor in Chair of Archival Studies at Tartu University. He has an M.Sc in microbiology from Tartu University, and an M.A. in Book Science from Tallinn University. Kurmo Konsa holds a doctoral degree in Informational Science from Tallinn University. His doctoral work focuses on preservation of written heritage and preservation surveys issues. Formerly he worked at Tartu University Library as paper conservator and at Estonian Postal Museum as conservator and curator of collections. His current research program includes the condition surveys of Estonian written records - construction of theoretical framework within which to develop, test and evaluate a preservation surveys methodology; creating a general methodology that may be adopted for assessing of condition of all paper-based collections and statistical surveys of Estonian written heritage. The most important and extensive conservation project with which Dr. Konsa has been involved was the Project Thule – the State of Cultural Heritage in Major Estonian Libraries. This project was carried out by support of UNESCO in 1998 – 2000. He is the Vice-Chairman of Estonian Preservation Council an umbrella organization of national memory institutions at Estonian Cultural Ministry. Dr Konsa participates in composition of advanced professional training courses at Tartu University and at Estonian Cultural Ministry. Kurmo Konsa has presented the results of his studies at conferences in Estonia and abroad (Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, Germany). He published a lot of articles in special publications. His books Preservation of Archival Materials and Preservation Guide for Libraries and Archives are the only study and reference materials concerning the preservation of written heritage in Estonia.


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