Summary thanks to neoarch: http://neoarch.wordpress.com/2006/04/25/preserving-archives-and-manuscripts-book-review/
Preserving Archives and Manuscripts details how preservation should take place in an archives or manuscript repository. The term preservation generally denotes the "activities and functions designed to provide a suitable and safe environment that enhances the usable life of collections." In order for an institution to implement a preservation program, it generally needs to recognize that preservation needs to take place. The institution should then set initial goals and a program policy for the program. Surveys of the repository must take place on the institutional and collection levels. These surveys allow for the archives to set its priorities and make decisions about how it can most effectively do its work. A budget for preservation should represent at least ten percent of total archives expenses in a year.
The materials stored in archives come in a wide variety of formats. An archivist needs to have a general understanding of how to preserve various types of paper, inks, skins, textiles, and photographic materials. Likewise, archivists must understand the types of adhesives used on these materials, including the ways in which they can be used and the damage they can cause to collections. Ritzenthaler addresses all of these issues in her third chapter. In particular, her discussions of papers and adhesives were especially detailed and helpful.
Ritzenthaler notes that the main causes of deterioration for records are usually temperature, relative humidity, light, biological agents, abuse, and disasters. The best way to prevent damage from these causes is to monitor and evaluate the conditions within the archives, and to have a good HVAC system. She points out that a ten degree reduction in temperature can double the life span of paper, while a ten degree increase will cut its life in half. Likewise, relative humidity should be well regulated.
She notes that the best conditions would be 40-65 degrees Fahrenheit, but conditions of 70 degrees and a relative humidity of 45%, plus or minus 2 degrees and 2 percentage points, are acceptable for an archives. She suggests that an archives have at a minimum a thermometer and a hygrometer. However, she recommends that archives purchase a hygrothermograph and a psychometer to track conditions over long periods of time. To protect materials from light, archives should have shades or UV filters over all windows and fluorescent lights. Lights should be cut off when they are not needed. An acceptable level of light in reading room areas ranges from 30 to 60 footcandles.
Concerning handling, Ritzenthaler basically urges using common sense. She recommends the use of gloves, fully supporting all types of materials that are being handled, using trucks and multiple people to transfer materials, avoiding materials like tape, and handling photographic and magnetic media by their edges.
Ritzenthaler offers advice on storing and handling materials. She stresses that handling and storage decisions should be based upon what best preserves materials in light of their format and condition. She describes the various types of shelving and furniture that is available for use in archives. She also describes the methods and products one should use to store various types of record formats. Her chapter on preservation and administration supplies a brief guide for administering records throughout the entirety of their lifespan. She notes various threats to preservation that occur during this time. She also discusses preservation solutions like photocopying and microfilm, and points out best practices for using both.