If I had to define and use the term best practice then best practice would be, the application of a solution that is socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable for the people/institutions in question at the time of implementation. My preference however is not to use the term.
I would be happier if we at least put a plural “s” at the end- best practices. As a cabinetmaker, I know there are many good ways to achieve the same result, and many different tools can be used to, for example, cut the same joint. Most makers I know will say “this is the way I like to do it, and I’m pretty happy with the result” rather than “this is the best way to do it”. I like ‘common practice’ because it recognizes that Conservators are part of a historical community with our own cultural values (that we can uphold, or critique).
This is a really pertinent issue in policy work. It’s common language for a collections care policy or conservation lab policy to use phrasing like “best practice” when describing care methods but I often ask “best for who?” “best for what?”.
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