PARS Forum: Preservation Statistics

The Preservation and Reformatting Section (PARS) Forum on Preservation Statistics: A New Approach to the Documentation of Library Preservation Activities was held January 26 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Presenters included: Annie Peterson, Tulane University; Holly Robertson, Preservation Consultant; and Nick Szydlowski, Boston College Law Library.

In 2012, institutions across the U.S. participated in a pilot Preservation Statistics Survey to document and analyze activities to preserve cultural heritage collections. The Preservation Statistics Survey records how these preservation programs are administered (leadership, staffing, and funding) as well as preventive preservation activities (library binding, mass deacidification, environmental monitoring, disaster planning, outreach, and training), conservation activities, reformatting and digitization activities, and digital preservation/digital asset management responsibilities. The results of the pilot FY2012 Preservation Statistics Survey were presented. The survey was intended for cultural institutions not just libraries but few archives or museums participated. For this reason the new survey will target only libraries. With fewer than 100 respondents it was difficult to draw conclusions, however a comparison was done with the last ARL preservation statistics gathered and compiled in 2008. There was an overlap of less than 40 institutions who had participated in both, but using that subset some comparison showed trends. One of the significant trends was the reduction of microfilming. The new version of the survey was released but will soon be hosted by ALA. It is hoped by the working group that having the strong association with ALA will encourage more libraries to participate in the survey.

There was an introduction to the revised FY2013 Survey that was released in mid-January, which kept the same data collection points, but provided better definition of terms and clearer instructions. The presenters encouraged the audience to both fill out the survey and to urge others in libraries across the nation to participate in order to gain a fuller understanding of the action being taken to preserve library collections. A more complete picture of the cost, staffing and actions will over time show trends in the preservation of library materials.

Find more information about the Preservation Statistics survey and project:

—Jeanne Drewes, Chief Binding & Collections Care Division/Deacidification, Preservation Directorate, Library of Congress