Preservation, as it applies to library and archive material, can be defined as: ” all managerial and financial considerations including storage and accommodation, provision, staffing levels, policies, techniques and methods involved in preserving library and archive materials and the information contained therein.” 1
As an institution committed to building collections for the use of students, faculty, scholars, and the public long into the future, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is obligated to ensure long-term access to those materials and their intellectual content. With an estimated replacement value in excess of $1.5 billion, the Library’s collections represent a significant investment – one that can hardly be reconstructed. The university must care for this investment or risk losing access to significant portions of it. To this end, the Library develops relevant preservation and conservation policies that will address institutional concerns.
As a research institution, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Library selects most of its materials on the basis of their permanent value to the individual collections, the scholars and students who use them, and the institution as a whole. Subject specialists are responsible for developing and maintaining collections that will meet the needs of users and the institution long into the future. Consequently, preservation activities are best undertaken by the subject specialists in consultation with their peers, the Preservation and Conservation Offices, and other members of the academic community when necessary.
Through such consultation, the Preservation and Conservation Offices help subject specialists choose the most appropriate treatments for their materials. Using available options, the Preservation and Conservation Offices work to preserve physical and intellectual access through careful consideration of an item’s value to both the institution and the larger research community.
Through cooperative collection management and evaluation of institutional workflow, the Preservation and Conservation Offices also work with other units within the Library as they select, process, and make accessible new acquisitions in the most timely manner possible.
1Mirjam M. Foot, “Building Blocks for a Preservation Policy.” (London: The National Preservation Office, 2001): 1.