Physical Preservation & Maintenance

The routine work of the Record Office, involves attending to requisitions for records received from Government Department, supply of certified copies of extracts from the printed records to public, dusting of record holdings, etc. as also making the records available for bonafide research.

Besides routine dusting of record, steps are taken for its preservation. A bindery attends to mending and repair work. Brittle record is restored and preserved by means of Chiffon. Tissue paper, wherever necessary, is used. Gazettes and other record worthy to be preserved are bound. Disinfestations of muniment rooms against termite and other pests has been a regular feature.

The record contents useful for research are very vast, and precious time of researchers in selecting the relevant material can be saved only with the help of tools of reference such as hand-lists, catalogues, indices, etc. one of the tasks of the research branch, therefore is preparation of reference media for research work. These tools will lengthen the life of the record.

Conservation is a process aimed at enhancing the useful life of anything. It includes preservation and restoration. Preservation aims at the maintenance of the original forms and formats while restoration aims at reinforcing the strength and removing the damages.

Preservation involves the methods and processes which normally do not disturb the original condition of the material. These include processes like storage, ventilation, air conditioning, fumigation, disinfection, microfilming, handling, protection against fire and flood, theft and vandalism etc.

Restoration aims at strengthening the document and enhancing its strength and durability in handling and natural ageing. However, restoration should not affect the originality, authenticity of the document and all the restoring material must be of durable, permanent and non-corrosive nature. The restoration process adopted should always be reversible. A thorough examination of the document should be taken up before embarking on restoration.

Traditional Techniques of Conservation in India

Before the advent of modern technologies and use of chemicals in India, many traditional methods were adopted for the conservation of written documents. Invariably, materials of permanent nature and good durability like handmade paper made of natural fiber cotton were used. This was manufactured by soaking cotton in milk and lime, which left alkaline reserves on it.

We have in our repositories materials as old as one thousand years still in good condition. We can therefore claim that our traditional methods of conservation are no less effective than modern techniques. Some of the popular traditional methods used are sulphur-impregnated paper which originated in Nepal; use of neem leaves camphor, cloves, turmeric, black cremin, tobacco, sandalwood etc. Books and paper were invariably wrapped tightly in a square red or yellow colored cotton cloth. This practice possibly helped to keep dust from reaching the books, prolonged its life by excluding ultra violet rays and insects.

Latest Techniques of Restoration

Latest Techniques of Restoration of document involve thorough examination of the document and its constituents and adopting best-suited techniques and material depending on the condition and use to which the document will be put.

After cleaning, washing, de-acidification documents require some restoration and repair work, which may consist of physical & chemical examination of documents, resizing, flattening, minor repairs and major repairs; like full pasting, chiffon pasting, tissue repair, lamination with cellulose acetate film etc.

Special techniques are adopted for documents damaged by fire and flood. This should only be done under expert guidance.