n. ~ 1. The professional discipline of protecting materials by minimizing chemical and physical deterioration and damage to minimize the loss of information and to extend the life of cultural property. - 2. The act of keeping from harm, injury, decay, or destruction, especially through noninvasive treatment. - 3. Law · The obligation to protect records and other materials potentially relevant to litigation and subject to discovery.
- preserve, v. ~ 4. To keep for some period of time; to set aside for future use. - 5. Conservation · To take action to prevent deterioration or loss. - 6. Law · To protect from spoliation.
Preservation2 is sometimes distinguished from conservation1, the latter describing treatments to repair damage. However, preservation activities are often considered a subdiscipline within the profession of conservation2. - Preservation3 is used in many public records laws to distinguish records from nonrecords; records are those materials that warrant preservation, that are set aside (usually by being filed). Materials that are not set aside for subsequent use do not fall within the scope of that legal definition. In this context, preservation is roughly synonymous with filing, with no connotation of permanent preservation.
†(CJS, Records §32) A public officer, by virtue of his office, is the legal custodian of all papers, books, and records pertaining to his office. It is his duty to preserve4 the public records, and to ensure that nobody alters or destroys them. He is also responsible for delivery of such documents to his successor. The law presumes that a public officer will properly perform his duty as to the care, management, and control of records, and their preservation, and if a particular paper is not found in a public office where, if in existence, it ought to be, it will be presumed that it never existed.
†(Conway 2000) In the early years of modern archival agencies – prior to World War II – preservation2 simply meant collecting. The sheer act of pulling a collection of manuscripts from a barn, a basement, or a parking garage and placing it intact in a dry building with locks on the door fulfilled the fundamental preservation mandate of the institution.
†(Skupsky and Mantaa 1994, p. 74) The duty to preserve6 records during the pendency of litigation overrides any business procedures that may be in place for destruction of records, including otherwise appropriate destruction under a records retention program. Once the duty to preserve is in effect, a duty also arises to notify appropriate organization personnel of the need to preserve relevant records.
†(Zublake IV 2003, p. 12) The scope of a party's preservation3 obligation can be described as follows: Once a party reasonably anticipates litigation, it must suspend its routine document retention/destruction policy and put in place a 'litigation hold' to ensure the preservation of relevant documents.