Books as Physical Objects: Damage Atlas and Condition Calculator

By Kurmo Konsa, Anu Lepp and Tiiu Reimo.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

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

Books represent an important part of our world’s cultural heritage. An accurate description of the physical condition and damage of books is crucial for developing appropriate proactive maintenance and conservation strategies. Thus far, a concise definition of damage is missing. In this paper, the concept of damage will be analyzed first. A definition of damage is a prerequisite for damage assessments and decision making. This is followed by a detailed presentation of the damage atlas, which is used to classify the detected damages. The damage atlas is a composition of different damage types and damage categories for books, and contains descriptions and photos of each damage type. In the last part of the article, the concepts of condition and a book condition calculator are presented. The book damage atlas is proposed as: a) a handbook for a consistent categorization of the damage types and categories of books, and of their relevant condition; b) a teaching tool for the training of library staff and conservators involved in damage assessment of books (using standard, pre-defined assessment criteria); c) a supporting tool for condition surveys of library collections; d) a tool for assessment of damage types, categories, and condition of books; and e) a teaching resource to be used at different levels in university courses in the field of library science or conservation.

Keywords: Book, Damage, Condition, Physical Description, Damage Atlas

The International Journal of the Book, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp.111-124. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.652MB).

Dr. Kurmo Konsa

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

Kurmo Konsa was born on the 31st of August, 1965, in Tartu, Estonia. He is an associate professor and the Chair of Archival Studies at Tartu University. He has an M.Sc in microbiology from Tartu University, and a 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 the Tartu University Library as a paper conservator, and at the Estonian Postal Museum as a conservator and curator of collections. His current research program includes 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 the 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 Project Thule–the State of Cultural Heritage in Major Estonian Libraries. This project was carried out with the support of UNESCO from 1998 to 2000. He is the vice-chairman of the Estonian Preservation Council, an umbrella organization of national memory institutions in the Estonian Cultural Ministry. Dr. Konsa participates in composition of advanced professional training courses at Tartu University and in the Estonian Cultural Ministry. Kurmo Konsa has presented the results of his studies at conferences in Estonia and abroad (Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, Germany). He published articles in professional 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.

Anu Lepp

Doctoral student, Chair of Archival Sciences, Institute of History and Archaeology, Tartu University, Tartu, Estonia

Dr. Tiiu Reimo

Professor of Book Science, Tallinn University, Tallinn, Estonia

Tiiu Reimo (born in 1953) has been a professor of book science at Tallinn University since 2003, and a member of the Nordic-Baltic-Russian Network on the History of Books, Libraries and Reading (HIBOLIRE) since 2006. She worked at the Department of Baltica Literature and Rare Books Academic Library in Tallinn University from 1976 to 2003, and from 1987 as the head of the Department. She received her Doctorate from Tallinn University in 2001. Her research interests are book history and the preservation of printed heritage. She is the author of the books Chronology of the Estonian Book (2000), and Book Culture in Tallinn in the Second Half of the 18th Century (2001), and numerous articles on book history.


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