It was an initiative of the archives to found an association of paper conservators. On the occasion of the "Archivtechnische Woche in München" (Congress on Techniques for Archives in Munich), conservators working in archives founded the AdA (Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Archivrestauratoren, association of archive conservators) on February 28, 1957.

The AdA, initially, focused on the following aims to be realised: a) Keeping up helpful bonds between conservators and their co-workers; b) promoting the new generation of conservators, guaranteeing continuing education on the conservators' side as well as supporting the exchange of experiences acquired; and c) representing the interests of the group.

The progress made by conservation studios outside of the Federal Republic of Germany very soon showed that it was not wise to stay on a level of knowledge already acquired and stick to methods developed nationally but that it was rather necessary to steadily enlarge one's expertise, and it showed that it is only possible to catch up with the level of other conservation studios by means of regular contact and exchange of experience. As a consequence, apart from archive conservators, also book and paper conservators affiliated with the association. Simultaneously, more and more colleagues from the neighbouring countries could be convinced of a joint programme. Since 1967 the AdA has been known under the name "Internationale Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Archiv-, Bibliotheks- und Graphikrestauratoren" (International Association of Archive, Book and Paper Conservators).

The union also had its consequences on thework programme of the first International Congress of Conservators in Freiburg, Basel and Zurich in the year 1967. Here an opportunity was presented, for the very first time, for the further development of the important exchange of experience between Danish, Austrian and German conservators. Through many discussions, the participants were able to exchange their points of view, get to know new working techniques, and enlarge their knowledge and skills.

Stimulated by the huge success gained, there could be planned and realised further conferences:


  • IInd IADA Congress in Vienna and Budapest in 1971
  • IIIrd IADA Congress in Copenhagen in 1975
  • IVth IADA Congress in Göttingen in 1979
  • Vth IADA Congress in the Royal Library and the National Archive in Den Haag in 1983 
  • VIth IADA Congress in Berlin in 1987
  • VIIth IADA Congress in Uppsala in 1991
  • VIIIth IADA Congress in Tübingen in 1995
  • IXth IADA Congress in Copenhagen in 1999  
  • Xth IADA Congress in Göttingen in 2003
  • XIth IADA Congress in Vienna in 2007
  • IADA Symposium in Prague in 2010 
  • XIIth IADA Congress Bern in 2011 
  • IADA Symposium in Amsterdam in 2014 
  • XIIIth IADA Congress in Berlin in 2015
  • IADA Symposium in Oslo in 2017 


The decision to publish regular reports was already made when the association was founded. The first reports, published in irregular issues and in multiple copies, were, however, rather simple but, nevertheless, resulted in significant progress. These reports led to an increase of the number of memberships, and rather soon there was published a report in a quarterly period. In 1968 the reports were presented in offset print and came rather handy; until 1975 they were published by the authors themselves. Due to difficulties in the editorial part, as for example difficulties with the illustrations, in 1975 there was made the decision to publish the reports from 1976 on as part of the "Maltechnik-Restauro". Since 2000 the IADA reports have now been published four times a year with a supplement as specialist journal "PapierRestaurierung". In 2009 the name was internationalised and changed to „Journal of PaperConservation“. Articles are now published in English and attract many more non-German readers , but also new IADA members. The IADA reports had been a lively means of information for the members as well as a forum for conservators and specialists for nearly four decades. Recently IADA has started to appear on social media platforms as Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Due to the rising number of memberships, the number of the board members was increased to eight in 1971 and only little later to ten, in order to present the board with the opportunity of an appropriate spectrum and to distribute the work task among these members. Even if the association still is mainly made up of conservators from German speaking areas, its more than 500 paying members have their origin in more than 25 countries.

The IADA created a number of important stimuli. Especially because there had not been developed a strictly defined job profile in Germany and as there was no legal protection of the denomination "conservator", it was of utmost importance to keep alive the common interest of all those working in the field of conservation in the solution of this problem. In order to being able to sustainably present these aims on a national as well as international level, the IADA in 1991 joined the European Confederation of Conservator-Restorers' Organizations (E.C.C.O.) and in 1995 the Vereinigung Deutscher Restauratorenverbände (VDR). In 2001, the members of IADA decided not to merge with the German conservation associations but instead to continue as independent international association for book and paper conservators.


Within the activities of the IADA now lasting more than 50 years, there has been experienced a shift in the focus of the job profile. In earlier times, the act of conservation was of main importance, whereas nowadays conservation work is considered being of equal importance, as experiences made in this field have shown that optimum storage conditions and well-considered conservatory means may be responsible for the possible elimination of the necessity for conservation. In the view of technical development there have to be made demands for the best training possible to be guaranteed for the conservators. It is a wrong that art and cultural assets are exposed to decay or destroyed through inexpert conservation treatment because there simply are not available sufficient financial means or sufficiently skilled and trained persons for the maintenance and conservation of these treasures.