Click here to skip to content

Preservation Assessment Survey

Making collections available for the long-term, either physically or remotely, depends on being able to use them without causing damage. Good preservation practice underpins the long-term use of collections by ensuring that the risk of damage to collections is minimised during use and storage.

The Preservation Assessment Survey is a tool which helps you to identify strengths and weaknesses in preservation practice and prioritise what to do to improve the long-term accessibility of your collection. The survey assesses the:

  • accessibility
  • demand
  • usability
  • significance
  • preservation measures in place and
  • damage to a collection.

The PAS services provided by the British Library Preservation Advisory Centre include a license to the methodology, guidance on using the survey, analysis of results, a tailored report summarising the findings together with identified further resources to help you put the recommendations into practice.

Information flyer (PDF Format) 515KB

Why should I use it?
Reported benefits
Case studies and sample report
How does it work?
How long will it take?
How much does it cost?
Training
How do I get started?

Why should I use it?

Objective evidence
The survey generates statistically valid, objective evidence on the current situation, which can be used for funding applications, institutional support, planning and prioritisation.

Standardised methodology and tailored reporting
A tried and tested methodology used by over 300 organisations. The standardised approach and extensive guidance information means it is easy to use. The flexible reporting format is adjusted to your needs through discussion with the Preservation Advisory Centre to create a report focused on the needs of your collection and organisation.

Comparisons and benchmarking
Uniquely the Preservation Advisory Centre can provide a wide range of comparators (national, or by region or sector) which can be used in the accompanying report to show how the findings from your survey compare to wider practice.

Models the impact of improvements
The effect of improving areas of preservation practice and other changes can be theoretically modelled to demonstrate their impact on the overall preservation profile of the collection.

Reported benefits

Organisations that have carried out the surveys consistently report significant benefits, including:

  • Underpinning successful funding applications
  • Prioritised programmes of work
  • Better knowledge of the collections
  • Increased awareness of collections throughout the organisation
  • Identified training needs and support for staff inductions.

Read the case studies below to find out more about how the Preservation Assessment Survey has been used by a range of different organisations.

Case studies and sample report

National Library of Ireland (PDF format) 76KB

Aviva Group Archive (PDF format) 283KB

Masonic Lodges and Chapter in England and Wales (PDF format) 205KB

Preservation Assessment of Scottish Archives (PDF format) 194KB

The sample report (PDF format) 195KB is based on fictitious data. It is included here to give an indication of the information contained in a Preservation Assessment Survey report.

How does it work?

Users identify a 400-item sample and complete a short questionnaire (15 questions plus condition assessment). The answers are entered into a personalised Microsoft Access database which is returned to the Preservation Advisory Centre. The survey findings are used to generate a statistically reliable report which provides:

  • an overview of the organisation's preservation needs and priorities
  • a preservation rating for each item
  • an assessment of the stability of the collection
  • the proportion of damaged items
  • recommendations to improve the long-term usability of collections.

How long will it take?

As a rough guide, a survey can normally be carried out by two people over five working days, once the survey sample has been identified. The time taken to complete a survey will depend on:

  • ease of access to collection items
  • distribution of the collection over physical sites/locations
  • familiarity of staff with the collection
  • the nature and condition of collection items.

How much does it cost?

Package 1 User guide, single survey database license, remote support, tailored report.
£ 850 + VAT

Package 2 User guide, single survey database license, remote support, tailored report, one day of onsite assistance from PAC staff to establish survey sample.
£1250 + VAT + travel expenses

Package 3 User guide, single survey database license, remote support, tailored report, one day of onsite assistance from PAC staff to establish survey sample, four working days of PAC staff time to work alongside local staff to carry out the survey.
£2725 + VAT + travel expenses

Package 4 User guide, single survey database license, remote support, tailored report, one day of onsite assistance from PAC staff to establish survey sample, two members of PAC staff for four working days to carry out the survey.
£4225 + VAT + travel expenses

Training

Introductory workshops on the use of the Preservation Assessment Survey are normally held four times a year.
£60 + VAT per person

Bespoke onsite training on use of the survey can be provided.
£60 + VAT per person (minimum six people) plus travel/expenses.

How do I get started?

The Preservation Advisory Centre has experience of many surveys and will be able to guide you. Contact Julia Foster for further information and an informal discussion: Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7612.
Email: julia.foster@bl.uk