These words are often used interchangeably. Here at the archives we use these two methods together to provide the best future for the records that we maintain. To preserve would be to keep the records in their current state and prevent them from further deterioration, which is the primary method of maintenance that we use. To conserve many of these items to their original state is unfortunately just not time conducive and it’s costly. Our department, along with other county departments have taken on some large scale preservation and conservation projects.
I wanted to provide you with examples of both so you can see how the two can be different.
Preservation Efforts to Protect Original Volumes
Here are examples of original volumes that we have that have had no preservation efforts vs. volumes that have had a cover applied to them. Unlike conserving a book and taking it back to its original form, the cover simply preserves the book so that no further harm comes to it.
Conservation Efforts to Restore 1856 & 1867 Historic Warren County Maps
The Records Center received the two wall maps pictured below in deplorable condition. Had we tried to utilize them for any purpose we would only have done further damage. Due to their historic significance, it was important to hire a conservator to come in and try to restore the maps to their original condition (or as close as the damage would allow). Unfortunately we do not have any images of what they looked like prior to work being done, but we have been told that they were filthy, folded up, and falling apart in pieces. All of the work done on them meets archival standards, including the framing.