Book Restoration Proceedure at SVK

Typical Archival collections include many valuable materials such as manuscripts, articles and so on. Sometimes private collections, even though they are very valuable materials have been housed in poor condition causing physical damages such as tears and bleeding of ink etc.

The conservation must provide proper treatment that can extend lifetime of the material and make it acid-free preservation for proper housing. Initially the condition of the collection should be accessed thoroughly. A chart should be prepared in print, recording the current condition of the whole collection. The chart can include the category, class of the material attributing to the priority, and the amount of individual pages. Typical dimensions can included further in another sub-chart for each category separately with other details.

The collection can include many of types of materials such as: Manuscripts, documents, bound materials etc. At times poor quality papers are in abundance, such as machine-made, wood pulp and lignin-containing papers used for manuscripts and documents and so on. The materials will be dated and will be in severely deteriorated and acidified condition needing proper treatment before digitization.

[Sample Chart] Type & Amount of the material



Amount of sheet











Single sheet

Pencil, Water soluble pen




Single sheet

Print ink





Print ink





Print ink




Bound book

Print ink





Print ink




Single sheet

Print ink







xx classes    xxx sheets

[Sample Sub-Chart] Category Specific





Typical Page Dimensions






Small Size





Medium Size





Large Size






xxx Pages

Most of materials are housed in acid paper envelope that causes deterioration, catches heavy dirt over the years as well as physical damage such as warping, tear and folding. Moreover accumulated dirt and mold accelerated deterioration and acidification.

Water stains, usage of water-soluble ink cause bleeding and starting with the margins the whole paper can degrade over the years. Sometimes pages are not properly folded causing tears and warping. Used envelopes are acidic and it accelerates acidification and they are torn easily especially during digitization when turning pages. Manuscripts are most deteriorated materials in most of the collections. Added to the poor condition, most of them are tied with a string and it causes heavy physical damage such as warping and tears. Used clips are rusted and it stains paper and accelerates acidification. Manuscripts are severely deteriorated and sometimes some of them may not stand further conservation treatment. Binders are used for scrap, materials are overlapped and papers in the binders are acid that cause damage.


The goal of conservation treatment is to prepare material to allow safe handling of the objects and to arrest or slow deterioration. The treatment will extend lifetime of materials by de-acidification and housing them in acid free box prevents further damages.

The task of any digitization project is to complete conservation treatment of large number of materials in relatively short time and then start the digitization process.

Many of the materials in most collections require dry cleaning, mending and pressure sensitive tape removal and so on. Some of them written in pencil require careful dry cleaning. Fumigation should be carried out before any treatment because the collection can have severe dirt and mold. De-acidification should be carried out by condition of paper and after conservation treatment acid-free envelope and folder are made.


Conservation treatment step

Materials are typically divided into 1, 2, 3 level by its overall condition and physical damages such as tear and warping are documented. Photographs are taken before and after the treatment and a database of documentation is developed. Materials should be brushed lightly to remove loose dirt. Materials requiring a more thorough surface cleaning are cleaned using grated erasers. After dry cleaning, materials are flattened using Press techniques. Major tares are repaired for handling reasons and to arrest propagation. Appropriate weight tissue and wheat starch paste are used for repairing tears. Missing areas are in filled with toned paper. Repair papers are cut slightly bigger than missing area and pasted with wheat starch. Rusted clips and staples are all removed and powdery rust is brushed out. Staple removed objects are bound with thread.

Pressure sensitive tape is targeted as a high priority for treatment because of migration of adhesive and staining, embrittlement, and possible obscuring of or loss image. Mechanical (heat spatula) and solvent methods are also used for pressure sensitive tape carrier and adhesive removal. Stains from pressure sensitive tapes are generally not addressed unless the stain is disfiguring or endangering an object.

De-acidification is carried out using spray to lift up pH of the objects. After treatment pH of the objects are raised up to pH 7. After conservation treatment single sheets such as single letter handwritten manuscripts are re-housed in acid-free envelope with documentation sheet. The series were placed in acid-free folder.


Acid-free envelope and folder

Acid-free envelopes and folders are housed in preservation box and acid binders are changed into acid-free box-binder.


Acid-free box and binder

The conservation of any historic collection is significant, to preserve heritage that could otherwise disappear in the history. Especially forgotten valuable materials which are donated in library can be made accessible for everyone who wants to use them. These techniques that preserve various large numbers of materials in short time give an opportunity to safe handling of materials as well as proper preservation.

Conservation treatment will prevent physical damages especially during the digitization process and lifetime of materials will be extended by de-acidification. Moreover acid-free envelope and box will prevent damage from handling. But even though de-acidification is carried out, deterioration of manuscripts and newspapers are severe that it requires further treatments, which can strength the paper. Thus conservation is the first true step before digitizing materials of historic importance.

Criteria for Selecting Materials for Digitization

Physical Properties of Source Material

  • Type and category of object
    (e.g. Is it a book, manuscript, photograph, sound recording, TV broadcast?)
  • Production process
    (e.g. Printed document, handwritten text, engraving, woodcut, wax cylinder recording, recording in mono or stereo? Is it an original or a reproduction/intermediary?)
  • Date
    (e.g. How old is it? Do you have information about when it was made? If not, can you find out or estimate?)
  • Physical size and dimensions
    (e.g. Is it a book with pages of regular (letter) size? Is it uniform? What is its length in cm, inches, duration of an audio-visual tape in hours/minutes/seconds, number of reels of film width; depth; thickness; weight?)
  • Media Type
    (e.g. Paper, leather, wood, magnetic videotape, vinyl record; combination of materials; gold leaf details in manuscripts?)
  • Format
    (e.g. 78 rpm disc, wax cylinder, reel-to-reel analog tape recording, DAT (Digital Audio Tape), Betacam SP tape, NTSC or PAL format video recording?)
  • Sensitivity to light
    (e.g. What kind of lighting levels can it be safely exposed to during digitization? For how long?)
  • Color information
    (e.g. Does it contain color information? Does color convey important information in this case? Is it an important element for the understanding and appreciation of the object?)
  • Tonal Range
    (e.g. Does it have a wide tonal range? Is this an important element for the understanding and appreciation of the object/recording?)
  • Noise
    (e.g. Does the audio recording have audio hiss, clicks and pops? Are there background sounds or images, which were captured in the original sound or moving image recording, that are not related to the main material? Is it important to preserve these?)
  • Characteristics of born digital material
    (e.g. File format, resolution or sampling rate, bit-depth or rate, compression method, file size?)
  • Characteristics and structure of informational content
    (e.g. For printed documents: does it include both illustrations and plain text? For sound recordings: what is the duration of the songs recorded and how many are included in the tape? For video recordings: what is the duration of the film recorded?)
  • Structure of the material
    (e.g. Is the material bound or mounted?)
  • Condition of the material and conservation
    (e.g. What is its state of preservation? Has it been assessed by conservators? Should it be conserved? Does it require any special handling?)

Digitization Issues

What Features of the Original Should Be Retained in the Digital?

  • Should the digital copy retain color information?
  • Do the images, sound, or video files you will deliver need to be of high resolution?
  • Should digitization preserve the background 'noise' in the recording where this results from a live performance?
  • Should digitization preserve the background 'noise' in the analog recording where this is a function of the age of the media or the process of production?
  • Is it necessary to produce machine-readable text?

Examples of original features that may require special accommodation:

  • Oversize maps will require special hardware or software for scanning
  • Bound materials will need to be disbound before scanning, if using a sheet-fed scanner.
  • Fragile items might require conservation treatment prior to digitization.

What are the technical and resource implications for digitization in order to retain these features or address these problems so that the results are of adequate quality to meet the aims of the program?

  • You will need to calculate the file sizes that will be created from scanning in color and at high resolution.
  • You will need to consider whether altering or destroying the original material is an acceptable option.
  • You will need to assess the time and staff required for disbinding the bound books, and the availability and cost of large format scanners.
  • You will need to assess the time, staff, and tools required to create descriptive, structural and administrative metadata.