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What is Preservation?

Preservation includes a range of activities aimed at slowing the natural deterioration of physical matter. In the case of books, documents or photographs, which mostly consist of organic material with the addition of some inorganic substances, preservation requires in-depth familiarity with the environmental factors that pose a threat to these materials, as well as possible solutions.

Preservation seeks to combat physical, chemical and biological decay. One of the methods for minimizing risk is to adapt and monitor the conditions in which the records are stored: lighting, air filtration, temperature, relative humidity, storage materials and facilities, monitoring pests, bi-annual fumigation, and disinfection treatment.

An overall, comprehensive preservation plan, suited to the owners’ budget, will address most of the risk prevention and treatment issues for your collection. Preservation activity needs to be regular and sustained in order to be effective. Although the results of such activity are not immediately discernible on each individual item, preservation has a significant impact on the lifespan and condition of the collection, with long-term results.

Examples of Preservation

Academy for the Hebrew Language

In 2009 I undertook a project that entailed examination, preservation and restoration of around 1,000 books that had once belonged to Eliezer Ben-Yehuda and are held today in the library of the Academy for the Hebrew Language in Jerusalem. Below are photos of the library before and after treatment.

© Eliezer Ben-Yehuda Library at the Academy for the Hebrew Language