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Prioritization for preservation, conservation and digitization

This Preservation Advisory Centre/ RLUK Seminar was held at the British Library Centre for Conservation on 23 February 2010.

There’s so much [to preserve / conserve / digitize] … people need skills in how you select the right materials … how you make the decisions and what you have to bear in mind” Focus group research into preservation training needs, June 2009.

In all organisations, and especially in cash straitened times, priorities have to be established. Organisations have to choose what is most important to protect and make available to use (prioritize collections); they also have to choose which preservation, conservation and digitisation actions will best support their institutional aims. This event looked at methodologies in use in different organisations to prioritize what should be preserved, conserved or digitized and how to establish which actions are most important.


Why did you attend this seminar?

  • Directly relates to the formation of preservation planning/strategy within our institution.
  • What is new/current thoughts on digitisation i.e. to share information.
  • Like to know more about prioritisation, particularly in context of digitisation.
  • Hoping for strategic input for collections care in my service.

What did you learn?

  • That no one approach fits all but lots of useful advice and aspects to consider.
  • Usefulness of risk assessment, importance of providing data for persuading management/funders.
  • Various models for scoring/prioritisation to explore model for digitization on demand.
  • The essential logic beneath prioritization within planning.
  • I found useful the different points of view having a number of institutional cases was very helpful.

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

  • To convince others within my organisation that decisions need to have stakeholders on board - everyone's responsibility.
  • Try and make closer contact and more use of the experience of other libraries and archives.
  • Set some fairly small priorities for beginning to deal with collection issue AND particularly now I will bear in mind that don't have to do it all this year, can plan to do things next year.
  • Review how to prioritise archives - more thought to end users before prioritising decisions made.
  • Think more about what conservation requests are made and why. See if any of the prioritization methodologies for conservation and preservation can be adapted and implemented.


  9.30 Registration
10.00 Welcome and introduction
Caroline Peach, Preservation Advisory Centre
10.15 Risk Assessment as a collection management tool at The National Archives,
Jess Ahmon, Preservation Officer
10.45 The Preservation Assessment Survey: Prioritising collections and preservation actions
Julia Foster, Database Development Officer
11.15 Break
11.30 The British Library's preservation prioritization system
Sandy Ryan, Preservation Surrogacy Manager
12.00 Discussion and sharing of experiences
12.30 Lunch
13.30 Prioritzing for digitization at the Stadsarchief, Amsterdam (Amsterdam City Archives)
Marc Holtman, Project Leader Digitization
14.00 Approaches to preservation prioritization at King's College London
Katie Sambrook, Special Collections Librarian
14.30 How prioritizing preservation can work in practice: a case study from the University of Birmingham
Marie Sviergula, Conservator
15.00 Break
15.30 Discussion and sharing of experiences
16.00 End