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   Day after day, the vast cultural legacy stored in Italy's libraries and archives is in constant danger of sustaining massive losses. It is not just the most ancient documents that are in jeopardy: in fact, because these were made using materials that are more durable than those employed in the modern age, they are less imperilled than countless documents created throughout the 19th century, and even some made in more recent times.

The same is also true of books: a medieval codex made using parchment and wooden (cover) boards is far more resistant to the rigours of time than one of today's cheap editions manufactured from recycled paper. But just like medieval works, the latter also represent "valuable material evidence of our civilization", so we must work to ensure that these too are adequately safeguarded in order that they be transmitted to future generations, if only to remain faithful to Article 9 of our Constitutional Charter.

If, on the one hand, the preservation of such materials (which only on the face of it represent a marginal component of our cultural heritage) is of fundamental importance to our society, on the other hand they pose an unusually complex challenge. Suffice to say that this class of cultural heritage is perhaps the only one whose use (i.e. consultation) is based on in its being mechanically stressed through handling. But at the same time, what would be the point of preserving a collection of books or an archival fund made inaccessible to scholars? Any collection would lose its raison d'être if this were the case. This is the challenge then: to make accessible an impressive body of cultural patrimony (both in terms of size and quality) and, at the same time, ensure that future generations will also be able to enjoy and benefit from the same resources. The Italian Association of Library and Archival Heritage Curators and Conservators (Associazione Italiana dei Conservatori e Restauratori degli Archivi e delle Biblioteche, AICRAB) brings together professionals who, on a daily basis, working with passion and dedication, are fully committed to meeting this challenge.

AICRAB is the only national organization that unites archivists, librarians and conservators dedicated to the preservation of Italy's library and archival heritage. Some of AICRAB's members do not originate from the aforementioned fields, but nonetheless share an interest in the association's key objectives. One of AICRAB's fundamental goals is that of increasing awareness by developing training programmes and promoting studies and research in all areas related to the preservation of library and archival heritage. Particular attention is paid to fostering training initiatives and the updating of professionals in the field. The Association also publishes and distributes the latest technical and preservation-related information, and works to perfect the most suitable methods and techniques to employ in the safeguarding (i.e. damage prevention), maintenance and conservation of documentary materials held in Italy's many archives and libraries.