What is the difference between Book Restoration and Book Conservation?
What is the difference between Book Restoration and Conservation?
The main difference is that book restoration refers to a skill whereas book conservation refers to a field of study. To truly understand the difference between book restoration and conservation we need to go beyond these two terms to consider book preservation, bookbinding and book repair as well. Below I have defined book restoration, conservation, preservation and repair.
This can be defined as skilled reparations with the aim of returning a book to its original condition. The entire scope of restoration ranges from the repair of a torn leaf, or removal of a stain, to the complete rehabilitation of the materials, including such things as de-acidification and filling in losses as well as re-sewing and replacing parts as needed such as endpapers, boards or even the whole spine. The term restoration does not include creating a new book cover as this is bookbinding rather than restoration. If the new cover matches the period of the original book it is called a period or contemporary binding. Conservators are required to document every aspect of the restoration or preservation process whereas Restorationists don’t necessarily do this.
The conscious, deliberate and planned supervision, care and preservation of the total resources of a library, archives, or similar institution, from the injurious effect of age, use (or misuse), as well as external or internal influences of all types, but especially light, heat, humidity and atmospheric influences. 2. A field of knowledge concerned with the coordination and planning for the practical application of the techniques of binding, restoration, paper chemistry, and other material technology, as well as other knowledge pertinent to the preservation of archival resources.The above definition of Book Conservation is taken from: Bookbinding and the Conservation of books A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology by: Matt T. Roberts and Don Etherington
Minimal intervention to prevent further deterioration. Many times making a box is the preservation solution.
Book repair is not restoration and it is not conservation. Repair is an “improvement” made to a book that is focused on the functionality of the book. It is a visible change that is typically unsubtle and un-matching yet it may be the only viable alternative for a relatively unimportant book. And if done well , it can look very nice, clean and neat, but it could never be mistaken for an original binding. Sometimes this is all that is needed. It is always cheaper.
For more information on these categories consider purchasing a copy of Book Restoration Unveiled.