Conservation of Jain Manuscripts
Materials and research
While most manuscripts are written or printed on paper, conservators have to deal with a huge range of materials from all over the world including parchment and vellum, papyrus, palm leaves and birch bark. In addition to books, many collections include other artefacts such as photographs, prints and drawings, philatelic materials and globes, and new challenges like the problems of preserving material published in digital form mean that there is a constant need to research and develop new techniques, materials and equipment.
Many manuscripts are preserved with techniques using "minimal intervention", with the aim of imposing as little change to the original item as possible, and using conservation which can be easily reversible. In certain cases, where, for example, the original is simply too fragile to be handled or in order to provide wider access to the collections, items may be microfilmed to archival standards or even digitised and made available on the Internet.
Manuscript conservation work also focuses on taking necessary action to prevent the deterioration of collections. This is because all organic material is subject to a natural process of decay, but the rate at which deterioration takes place can be significantly reduced by good storage conditions. Changes in environmental conditions for the collections in terms of temperature and humidity all play an important role in the preservation of manuscripts. In addition, certain materials require their own microclimates which are often difficult to maintain.
JAINpedia has taken up the task of digitally preserving all the Jain Manuscripts at these partner organisations, to ensure their long-term preservation, and ease of accessibility all around the world. Developing investigative digitisation techniques in support of conservation and curatorial examination, and servicing conservation and preservation components of digitisation projects are amongst other elements of addressing the new digital challenges.