The collections of the University of Texas Libraries, in addition to their intellectual and aesthetic value, represent an enormous economic investment. The University of Texas Libraries is committed to providing a comprehensive preservation program for these collections, consistent with the goals and objective of the Library and the University and with the Library's stature as a major national research collection
A comprehensive preservation program encompasses a system of plans, policies, procedures, and resources required to properly care for and prolong the life of these collection for the use of the educational and research community. An active preservation program encourages respect for the library and its collections, reduces the loss of materials through neglect or carelessness, and conserves resources through the application of preventive and corrective measures. Preservation, in fact, is an essential component in any activity involving introduction of library materials into collections (selection, acquisition, and cataloging) and handling by library staff and users.
The success of the University of Texas Libraries preservation program to a large extent depends on staff understanding and observance of good preservation practices. Because library materials are handled extensively by library staff, and because library users look to staff as exemplars in library matters, the observance of good preservation practice is extremely important. Active participation and leadership in the preservation program is the responsibility of all staff.
"Preservation" is the set of actions taken to prevent, stop or retard deterioration of library materials through the management of: storage environment; housing materials and techniques; security; handling practices; as well as through user and staff education. Replacement is a form of preservation, as is changing the format of materials in order to preserve the intellectual content. "Conservation" implies the actions taken to prevent, stop, or retard deterioration of individual items through treatment level intervention into the physical state of the item. "Preservation" is used here as the broader term encompassing both preservation and conservation.
Responsibility for directing the preservation program rests with the Head Librarian, Preservation Services, who, with appropriate consultation, formulates, implements, and coordinates preservation policies and activities on a library-wide basis. The Head Librarian also maintains active liaison with the preservation programs of other campus agencies, such as the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, the Tarlton Law Library, the Archer M. Huntington Art Gallery, and the Texas Memorial Museum.
Within the limitations imposed by budget and staffing levels, the University of Texas Libraries strives to provide a comprehensive preservation program that includes the following elements
- Adheres to nationally and professionally accepted preservation standards and techniques. This includes limited conservation treatment of library materials using permanent, nondestructive materials.
- Evaluates and improves the physical care of library materials. This includes handling and storage, environmental conditions, collections security, and up-to-date disaster prevention and preparedness planning.
- Ensures that the most effective preservation options are implemented. Present options include commercial binding and rebinding, in-house repair and binding, protective enclosures, replacement, limited preservation photoduplication and microfilming and, in rare instances, conservation.
- Identifies materials requiring preservation measures. Items in poor condition are identified through general stack maintenance, circulation, and physical surveys of collections. In cases of non-routine treatment, bibliographers recommend preservation options appropriate to the material under review.
- Conducts an on-going program of staff training and awareness. In addition to the use of Preservation of Library Materials: A Manual for Staff, this includes an orientation session held each semester for new professional and classifies staff, on-going training in minor book repair for public service units, video and slide/tape presentation, demonstrations, and exhibits. The Head Librarian, Preservation Services, and Conservator are available for staff consultation on any preservation concern. All supervisors are responsible for directing staff to appropriate preservation training resources.
- Carries forward a user education program on preservation. Elements included in the program are book flags, posters, exhibits, videotapes, and direct appeals to faculty and students.