Last updated March 2004.

Cornell University Library




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 as follows:

Line A. Standard Information

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 Categories

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.

Line C.

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.

Line D.

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 surveyed.

Explanatory Notes

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 are detached).

Basic Repair 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.

Enclose The 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.

Conservation Treatment 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 treatment actions.

"Rebind/Resew" 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).

"Restore/Resew" indicates that the original binding must be restored and replaced after the text block has received the treatment indicated above.

"Rebind" is 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.

"Reback" is 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 reinforced).

"Tissue Reback" 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.

"Excessive Repair" 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. 

Program Information

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 these statistics.

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.



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Department of Preservation and Collection Maintenance