Best Practices for Preservation in Shared Print Programs

Note: This Best Practice uses the Good, Better, Best, Aspirational terminology

Future access to the materials of shared print collections depends on their preservation over time. Successful preservation of printed books comes from active management at the time of selection, during the entire course of storage and use, and when a book’s physical usefulness approaches its end. 

Each book selected into a shared print collection has its own materiality and history. Best practice involves significant investment as early as possible in selecting sound copies and in creating a program and a physical environment that minimize deterioration and risks. Early investment reduces later costs and losses; however, it is neither practical nor possible to start a shared print program with only perfect copies. 

Even the best storage environments and materials in them can deteriorate over time. Therefore ongoing management directed by dedicated, trained preservation professionals is one of the most important requirements to remediate damage in order to meet the needs of users and to mitigate new risks to the collection as they emerge. Material objects decay, even under ideal conditions. Best practice acknowledges this potential for loss and incorporates mechanisms to transfer text to new formats while maintaining some copies of the old format as long as possible to validate the new.

The following outline articulates the process of print preservation into the areas of staff, environment, condition, security, and risk mitigation. For all their vulnerabilities, printed books are persistent objects, especially in numbers distributed over different locations. Any of the activities described here will increase their chances of survival.

Each level presumes all checks of any/all preceding levels.

  1. Staff
    1. Good
      The SPP will encourage member libraries to have
      1. readily available staff trained in preservation or if that is not possible, identify a member library with preservation staff to assist all program members 
      2. an informal digitization process (i.e. identify where the print item has an equivalent digital version and/or to digitize local materials)
    2. Better
      The SPP will encourage member libraries to have
      1. readily available staff trained in preservation or if that is not possible, identify a member library with preservation staff to assist all program members, plus the following
      2. a formal digitization program that identifies when the print item has an equivalent digital version and/or digitizes local materials
    3. Best
      The SPP will encourage member libraries to have
      1. all of the above plus the following
      2. dedicated onsite preservation and/or conservator staff
    4. Aspirational
      1. all of the above plus the following
      2. dedicated onsite preservation and/or conservator staff

Table 1: Better, Best, and Aspirational Practices for Staffing

GoodBetterBestAspirational
Trained Staff in Preservationxxxx
Informal Digitization Processx
Formal Digitization Programxxx
Onsite Preservation and/or Conservation Staffxx
Onsite Conservatorx
Dedicated Labx
  1. Preservation Environment (See Best Practice Tier System for Storage Environments at https://sharedprint.org/best-practices/storage-environment/
    1. Good 
      The SPP will encourage member libraries to take actions that correspond with tier 1 of the Best Practice Tier System for Storage Environments, and member libraries will prioritize retained items for preservation
    2. Better 
      The SPP will encourage member libraries to take actions that correspond with tier 2 of the Best Practice Tier System for Storage Environments, and member libraries will prioritize retained items for preservation
    3. Best 
      The SPP will encourage member libraries to take actions that correspond with tier 3 of the Best Practice Tier System for Storage Environments, and member libraries will prioritize retained items for preservation
    4. Aspirational
      The SPP will encourage member libraries to take actions that correspond with tier 4 of the Best Practice Tier System for Storage Environments, and member libraries will prioritize retained items for preservation. In addition, member libraries can strive for the following:
      1. TWPI 200 or better, 30-40% humidity, temperature 50˚F or less
      2. no windows
      3. no UV
      4. lights on only in local area at use (timed or motion-sensing)
      5. comprehensive boxing/lids on trays
  1. Condition
    1. Good (Acceptable)
      The SPP will encourage member libraries to use the following metrics:
      1. some damage acceptable
      2. no active pests or mold 
      3. no significant loss of text 
      4. extensive paper damage flagged as leaf master for reformatting
    2. Better
      The SPP will encourage member libraries to use the following metrics:
      1. all of the above plus the following
      2. text not marked (highlighting, underlining, notes)
      3. paper withstands at least one double-fold
      4. binding is intact or can be rebound at modest cost
      5. books not intact (if only option available) are in enclosures or tied
      6. shelf validation (physical volume present)
    3. Best
      The SPP will encourage member libraries to use the following metrics:
      1. all of the above plus the following
      2. few or no tears
      3. article or chapter validation
    4. Aspirational
      The SPP will encourage member libraries to use the following metrics:
      1. all of the above plus the following
      2. as printed condition (original binding)
      3. page validation
      4. value added: effective enclosures, deacidification
      5. brittle: have verified additional copies or digital surrogate

Table 3: Good, Better, Best, and Aspirational Practices for Condition

Good
(Acceptable)
BetterBest Aspirational
No Major Damagexxxx
No Active Pests or Moldxxxx
No Significant Loss of Textxxxx
Major Paper Damage Flagged for Reformattingxxxx
No Markingsxxx
Paper Withstands Double Foldsxxx
Binding Intactxxx
Book Enclosed (if Necessary)xxx
Shelf Validationxxx
Few or No Tearsxx
Article/Chapter Validationxx
As Printed Conditionx
Deacidificationx
Surrogate Copies Availablex
  1. Security/Circulation See also Best Practices for Inventory at https://sharedprint.org/best-practices/inventory-for-shared-print-programs/ 
    1. Good
      The SPP will encourage member libraries to have
      1. some sort of security tracking (RFID/3M etc)
      2. ownership marking/labelling
    2. Better
      The SPP will encourage member libraries to have
      1. All of the above plus the following
      2. shelf verification
    3. Best
      The SPP will encourage member libraries to have
      1. All of the above plus the following
      2. closed stacks (staff retrieval only)
    4. Aspirational
      The SPP will encourage member libraries to have
      1. All of the above plus the following
      2. Closed verified stacks
      3. controlled digital lending 

Table 4: Good, Better, Best, and Aspirational Practices for Security/Circulation

GoodBetterBest Aspirational
Security Tracking Systemxxxx
Ownership Markingxxxx
Shelf Verificationxxx
Closed Stacksxx
Verified Stacksx
CDL Practicedx
  1. Risk Mitigation
    1. Good
      The SPP will encourage member libraries to have
      1. disaster response plan
      2. fire detection
      3. shelves 1 or more inches off floor
      4. integrated pest management program
    2. Better
      The SPP will encourage member libraries to have
      1. All of the above plus the following
      2. up-to-date (within 5 years) disaster response plan
      3. fire suppression
      4. sited for safety (not in flood plain,  high-industrial area, or next to railroad, etc.)
    3. Best
      The SPP will encourage member libraries to have
      1. All of the above plus the following
      2. disaster response plan and permanent staff trained in disaster response/recovery
      3. all the above plus utilities and building shell designed to reduce risks (no water lines over stacks, roof design appropriate to climate; insect and small animal barriers)
    4. Aspirational
      The SPP will encourage member libraries to have
      1. All of the above plus the following
      2. comprehensive disaster plan reviewed regularly (annually recommended) and permanent staff trained in disaster response/recovery
      3. standing contract with disaster response firm

Table 5: Good, Better, Best, and Aspirational Practices for Risk Mitigation

GoodBetterBestAspirational
Disaster Response Planxxxx
Fire Detectionxxxx
Shelves Off of Floorxxxx
Integrated Pest Managementxxxx
Up-to-Date Disaster Planxxx
Fire Suppressionxxx
Sited for Safetyxxx
Permanent Staff for Disaster Responsexx
Building Designed to Reduce Riskxx
Comprehensive Disaster Planx
Standing Contract with Disaster Response Firmx
  1. Shared Print Program MOUs
    1. Good
      1. MOUs include preservation considerations and recommendations for member libraries
    2. Better
      1. MOUs include preservation requirements for member libraries 
      2. The SPP provides access to preservationists for questions and issues that may arise within member libraries 
    3. Best
      1. MOUs include preservation requirements for member libraries 
      2. The SPP provides a designated preservation expert for member libraries