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Introduction to preservation

This Preservation Advisory Centre training day was held at the British Library Centre for Conservation on 18 April 2012.

Preservation of collections is an important part of the day to day work of librarians and archivists who have to maintain access to collections. The day will explore what is meant by preservation; highlight the risks to collections and show how to minimise those risks with simple, cost-effective actions. The day is targeted at those who are new to the preservation of library and archive collections.


Why did you attend this training day?

  • I wanted to learn more about handling and care of collections.
  • To improve understanding of caring for archives/special collections.
  • To learn about preservation and develop my skills in this area.
  • To learn about preservation techniques.
  • I wanted confirmation that my knowledge of preservation issues was sound.

What did you learn?.

  • It's been a very complete review of preservation issues. All the topics covered have been interesting.
  • Factors involved in preservation, resources for further support.
  • Useful strategies and general knowledge for safeguarding collections.
  • The distinction between preservation, conservation and restoration.
  • The importance of maintaining and updating digital media.

What will you do differently as a result of attending this training day?

  • Insist on application of policies.
  • Review storage, assess support for books.
  • Assess digital items prior to acquisition/cataloguing. Handle materials correctly.
  • Investigate preservation policy, risk management and other procedures related to special collections.
  • Back-up digital files in a number of different formats and refresh every couple of years.


10.15 Registration
10.25 Welcome and introductions
10.30 Preservation overview: what is preservation? risk management, prioritization, preservation policies
11.15 Break
11.30 Storage of physical collections: environmental conditions, accommodation, pollutants and pests
12.30 Lunch
13.30 Use of physical collections: how collections are used, key risks and their mitigations, handling items
14.30 Digital preservation
15.00 Break
15.15 Emergency response
16.00 Other sources of support
16.15 Discussion and questions
16.30 End