44th Annual Meeting – Book and Paper Wiki Session, May 15th

The chairs of the Book and Paper Wiki group, Evan Knight, Katherine Kelly, and Denise Stockman, first spoke about the group and its progress on the wiki up to this point. They stressed how valuable the AIC Meeting wiki sessions have been, as they have allowed the wiki coordinators to touch base with their colleagues at least once a year.  The group expressed gratitude for our interest and attendance.
The group has focused on making the wiki more useful and accessible to members of the conservation community. Our wiki is only as good as the engagement of its volunteers, and they recognize that one of their chief roles as coordinators was to reduce any barriers to entry for potential contributors. They pointed specifically to the centralization of instructions within the wiki in the form of the new contributors toolbox, which nicely consolidates hints, guidelines and suggestions.
The Book and Paper Wiki Group also aims to move away from the model of the Paper Conservation Catalog (PCC), and towards a wiki model.  They expect to change the structure and tone of the wiki to make it a more collaborative document. Knight, Kelly, and Stockman emphasized this idea of an evolving resource in their first major question to the larger community of conservators: how much do we alter the PCC as the profession moves forward and makes it out-of-date? They expressed a great respect for the PCC and its many knowledgeable authors, and knew that it was a key reference for many in our profession.
The audience had a lively discussion about this question. They hoped, as one might expect in our field, that the PCC should be preserved in its original form, as it remains a useful record of past practice in our profession. Others offered the opinion that the Wiki should be a current document, and that it would be frustrating to find an entry for a particular technique, only to discover that approach had fallen out of practice. Several solutions were proposed that might allow the wiki to be up-to-date, while still keeping the old PCC intact. The first was to offer the PCC as a pdf on the wiki for anyone to download. Another suggestion was to include a section in the wiki on techniques that had been superseded by more effective measures, complete with references to papers that signaled the change in approach.
The other major question the coordinators had for the community concerned standardizing the language of bookbinding and conservation. Several sources for controlled vocabulary were suggested, and there was discussion about whether they could be adapted to suit our purposes.  Audience members thought that any reasonable source would do, because what the field needed was a lively discussion about vocabulary, and it was agreed that starting from scratch would be counter-productive. Doing something, in short, was better than doing nothing, and the coordinators concurred.
Ultimately, the wiki is making great progress, but needs more contributors. It is moving away from the model of the various conservation catalogues, and towards a more collaborative model of professional information sharing. The wiki offers us the option to begin to standardize our language within our narrow group, but also the possibility to help standardize the way we communicate within our entire profession. Finally, there are a number of things the chairs would like the larger community to send in if possible, including: links for bibliographic references, book and paper conservation tips (for example from AIC tips sessions), and information on materials and tools.