GENERAL ACTION SURVEY
The "general survey"
format is designed to address both sample and comprehensive survey needs.
It identifies "standard" information that applies to every
record, and "action" items that indicate needed treatment.
It also identifies informational elements that help focus the forms of
action more specifically. It is hierarchical in construction and flexible
enough to allow expansion within categories without compromising the structure.
The resultant information allows accurate costing to be done, and also
makes possible the extraction of quite specific groups of treatment to
enable batch processing *. For additional terms, see "Glossary of
Book Conservation Terms".
* The survey is designed for at-the-shelf examination using a lap-top
computer and FileMaker Pro 3.08 software. The four main components are
Line A. Standard
This line requires
actual data to be entered, and should be filled out no matter what actions
are required. Call number and date of publication (A1, and
A2) are self evident. If the call number includes the date
of publication, it should still be entered in both fields. Place of publication,
if indicated should be entered at (A3). Because it is sometimes
difficult to differentiate among sets, monographic series, serials, etc.,
at this point the mere indication of volume number (A4)
and number of volumes in the set (A5) will suffice. Number
of pages (A6) should be entered if a monograph or "M"
to indicate a "multiple" if the item consists of more than
one work bound together as in, for example, groups of pamphlets. Last
circulation (A7) should be the year shown as the last circulation
in the book. (A8) should be used to enter the height of
the book in centimeters. Type of item (A9) is an at shelf
decision at the time of survey, examples might be, Book, Pamphlet, Bound
Manuscript, etc. Physical description of covers materials (A10),
is again an at shelf decision at time of survey.
Line B. Main Action
This line identifies
the main areas of action, and is designed chiefly to indicate the general
disposition or action destination of the item. For example, materials
for "reformatting" will be sent to an area different from "commercial
binding" when actual action is taken.
This is not
an action line, but is designed to indicate important information about
the item. Thus, for example, C5 and C6 both describe the
item within the context of the particular action category.
This line is designed
to indicate specific actions except for D1, which
is really an expression of condition. Although the intent is to be specific,
the elements have been purposely kept to a minimum to avoid fine shading.
It is expected that some changes in specification might occur when an
item is brought to action. For example, a conservator may find, on close
examination at the bench, that an item originally surveyed for "reback"
may need more complex treatment, such as "restore/resew". This
is anticipated, but should occur in only a small percentage of the items
This category is intended to be used primarily for those items that will
be replaced or supplemented by a copy (microfilm, photocopy, digitization).
Because many items are returned to the shelf even after they have been
reformatted, it is important to know whether the item will need to be
cut to facilitate reformatting, as this incurs a cost in preparing the
original for the shelf after reformatting. A rather crude but effective
"pencil test" (whereby a pencil placed in the gutter should not
obscure any of the text) can help to determine whether or not an item
must be cut.
In Line D, the indication
of "BRITTLE" means that the paper will not withstand a double corner
fold, whereas the indication of "ACIDIC" means that a spot test
shows that the paper is acidic but not brittle. Thus data gathered will
indicate: two levels of priority (brittle and acidic); the number and
size of pages, providing the cost basis for film, photocopy, and digitalization;
whether or not there will be a cost for returning the item to the shelf.
Commercial Bind This category identifies those items that are best
addressed by the commercial binder. On Line C, an indicator that the item
is a serial suggests that the Commercial Binding Office will have a record,
especially if combined with "First Bind" (i.e. an item lacking
a binding). A "rebind" in this category will invariably indicate
that the item is not rare and that the text block is broken (i.e. leaves
This category describes those items normally repaired following circulation
(i.e. non-rare, non-brittle, sound text block). "To Binding" indicates
the normal spine replacement technique, while "To Leaves" indicates
that leaves are damaged and need repair or replacement. "To Binding"
and "To Leaves" may be indicated separately or in combination.
Basic Bind At
this point, this category identifies basic cloth recasing for items that
may or may not be rare, but which have generally sound text blocks. "Recase"
involves the construction of a new cloth case to be attached to the
text block. A rare item for recasing in cloth would typically be bound
in a deteriorated, but non-original binding of little value. "Fan-glue"
is an item with loose, single leaves that can be reconstructed by double
fan adhesive binding.
descriptive portion of this category on Line C provides some indication
of why an enclosure is necessary and what other work may be needed. For
example, parchment and leather bindings will need furbishing as well as
enclosing. The types of enclosures set out on Line D should be
applied as described in Manual Guides.
In general, this category is intended to identify work to be performed
by conservators. Line C provides a limited set of descriptions,
the first five of which indicate the binding material, while the last
three indicate the material of the text block.
The six action elements
on Line D represent a grouping of the main types of book conservation
action, and is a conscious limiting of a large number of possible conservation
is an item that will have a new binding (because the original is too deteriorated
or is not contemporary with the text) and which has broken sewing. It
is assumed that all books to be resewn will be washed, alkalized, resized,
and have moderate paper repairs (i.e. fold reinforcement, first and last
few leaves supported).
indicates that the original binding must be restored and replaced
after the text block has received the treatment indicated above.
somewhat analogous to recase in that the original sewing structure is
retained, but a new binding is applied because the original cannot be
saved or the book is bound with a secondary binding. All leaf repairs
are performed in situ.
for items that have generally sound sewing structures and that need the
original bindings restored by rebacking in the appropriate material. It
is assumed that some other binding support may be needed (e.g. corners
is applied to books with light structure, (generally smaller volumes with
fairly thin boards) that have quite sound leather at the surface but are
broken in the outer joint. In most cases, "fine" bindings produced
from the mid-18th century on are appropriate for this treatment. As with
"reback" and "rebind", the text block should be sound.
applies to text blocks that are severely damaged (e.g. wormed or molded)
and which require special efforts to render them fit, in addition to the
work identified in other elements.
Extended Book Repair,
Tip-ins, Cleaning or Furbishing
Extended Book Repair
A more intense type
of repair is required for closed collections and rare items, Such repairs
may require lifting of cover material, insertion of new end papers or
fly leaves, etc.
Another type, usually
minor, repair, but can lead to a more in-depth type of which may well
require more expertise than that of standard book repair.
Cleaning or Furbishing
Usually done at the
shelf, but some items may require a more intense type of cleaning in order
to furbish. If this is determined to be the case at the shelf the item
is flagged for treatment so that a proper amount of time and effort may
be afforded to the volume.
The following page
(pg. 7) is an actual screen from the program currently used for surveying
as explained on the preceding pages. The fields are not actually numbered
in the program so they have been inked in for easier reference.
A disk is available
which has a clone of the database which you are free to use or adapt to
your own individual institution=s needs as you see fit. However, in order
to use the clone you must purchase Claris Filemaker Pro 3.0 or higher.
Page 8 is a layout
used to tally statistics from each survey. The entire survey is used to
produce the figures.
Page 9 is a layout
used to tally progress once a survey has been funded and treatments have
begun. A date range search is used to produce these statistics.
Page 10 is a layout
used to produce the annual statistics, another similar layout is used
to produce monthly statistics. A date range search is used to produce
Page 11 is a layout
which is a condensed report for curator=s use when setting up an exhibit.
Page 12 (front) is
a layout used to produce the worksheet which stays with the item throughout
its treatment and return to the home department. The verso of the form
is not included in the database but is preprinted so that the conservator
and/ or technicians can quickly make out the treatment report which is
later converted into the Conservator's comments field in the database.
By using this database,
the survey information can easily be converted to worksheets, statistics
or the like, without rekeying any information. Attached you will find
a number of pages which show the capabilities of this database.
2001-2004 Cornell University
Department of Preservation
and Collection Maintenance