Syllabus for Serials Preservation and Archiving

Acquaints or refreshes those who need to become familiar with issues relating to preservation and archiving of serials. This unit is seen as requiring one or two class periods, depending on the needs and flexibility of individual programs, and can be offered as part of a semester-long course on Serials or Preservation. Bulleted points are not intended to represent comprehensive coverage of the topics, but are suggestions for discussion or further reading, and may be covered in greater or lesser detail to suit the nature of the course.

I. Preventive Preservation: methods employed to deter damage

A. Handling and Processing (from point of entry into library)

1. Intake (mail room)

  • non-damaging techniques for opening boxes
  • proper loading of book trucks (to prevent tipping)
  • transporting materials to next destination

2. Acquisitions, Technical Services

  • awareness of preservation issues in standard routines, such as placement of property stamps, bar codes, magnetized security strips
  • use of alternatives to rubber bands, paper clips, and sticky notes
  • marking and erasing techniques
  • proper techniques for opening uncut pages
  • opening/flexing a volume for the first time (to prevent spine damage)
  • policies for marking and attaching / pocketing loose materials
  • keeping volumes open during cataloging/processing (weight bag vs., e.g., a stapler)
  • importance of accurate check-in, cataloging, and holdings records (as these relate to loss and replacement)
  • food and drink in processing areas
  • general handling guidelines for all relevant formats (paper, film, fiche, CDs, etc.)

B. Shelving and Storage

1. Composition of shelving

  • e.g., wood vs. powder-coated steel

2. Methods of shelving

  • separate units for “regular” and “oversize,” materials
  • position of materials (upright or flat)
  • inadvisability of fore-edge shelving to force-fit
  • proper storage of non-paper materials

3. Storage environment

  • temperature, relative humidity, light, air quality
  • monitoring
  • environmental control

4. Maintenance/cleaning

  • methods and schedules for cleaning/dusting materials
  • maintenance of surrounding areas, e.g., precautions during floor waxing
  • integrated pest management

C. Education of Staff and Users

  • handouts, posters, exhibits, staff training

D. Security issues

II. Preservation and Conservation: Evaluation and Treatment Options

A. Evaluation for status: selected considerations in choosing a treatment

  • How is the item used?
  • How frequently is it used?
  • How important is it to the collection?
  • How long will it be needed?
  • What is its monetary value?
  • What is the publication date?
  • What is its condition?
  • Which physical features must be retained?
  • Does the item have value as an artifact?
  • How many institutions hold the item?

B. Treatment options

1. Binding/Rebinding

  • criteria for selection of appropriate binding method including in-house pam-binding
  • standards governing methods and materials
  • relations with commercial binder and strategies for quality control

2. Repair

  • criteria for selection of appropriate repair technique
  • use of preservationally sound methods and materials
  • in-house staffing or relations with outside vendor or conservator

3. Reformatting

  • criteria for selection of appropriate reformatting method
  • options (paper to microform, paper to digital, microform to digital, digital to microform or paper, etc.)
  • pros and cons of each option
  • longevity issues
  • copyright issues

4. Replacement

  • policies for maintaining a complete run, replacement of missing volumes/pages/illustrations
  • options (out-of-print/in-print market; gifts; facsimile copying)

5. Deacidification

  • criteria for selection of candidates for deacidification
  • commercial mass deacidification
  • in-house options

III. Disaster Response and Recovery

A. Disaster Response/Recovery Plans

  • responsibilities of professional responders and staff
  • prioritizing of collections
  • institutional risk management policies
  • commercial services and suppliers

B. Consortial and Cooperative Agreements

C. Plans for Continuation of Operations

IV. Archiving

A. Paper

  1. Completeness (missing volumes, issues, pages, illustrations, reports, editorials, advertisements)
  2. Accessibility issues (accuracy in bibliographic description, subject headings, holdings)
  3. Last-copy issues, print repositories
  4. In-house vs. remote storage
  5. Appropriate storage conditions
  6. Cooperative agreements

B. Microform

  1. Legibility
  2. Completeness
  3. Accessibility issues (accuracy in bibliographic description, subject headings, holdings, MARC 533) – particularly important, as film is not easily “browsable”
  4. Appropriate storage conditions

C. Electronic

  1. Legibility
  2. Completeness
  3. Cataloging and metadata issues
  4. Searchability (.pdf vs. .html)
  5. Integrity/accuracy (OCR issues)
  6. Light vs. Dark archives
  7. Characteristics of a trusted repository

V. Administrative Policies vis-a-vis Preservation of Serials

A. Circulation Policies

B. Closed vs. Open Stacks

C. Food/Drink Policies

Selected Bibliography for Serials Preservation and Archiving

Bailey, Charles W. Jr. Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography. Version 68: 6/19/2007.

Brandt, Astrid-Christine. Mass Deacidification of Paper: A Comparative Study of Existing Processes. Trans. Peter Thomas. Paris: Bibliotheque Nationale, 1992.

Center for Research Libraries and RLG Programs. Trustworthy Repositories Audit & Certification: Criteria and Checklist.

Constantinou, Constantia. “Destruction of Knowledge: A Study of Journal Mutilation at a Large University Library.” College & Research Libraries. 56 (1995): 497-507.

Cunha, George Daniel M. and Dorothy Grant Cunha. Library and Archives Conservation: 1980s and Beyond. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1983.

DePew, John N. A Library, Media, and Archival Preservation Handbook. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 1991.

DeStefano, Paula. “Use-Based Selection for Preservation Microfilming.” College & Research Libraries. 56 (1995): 409-18.

Evans, G. Edward, Sheila S. Intner, Jean Weihs. Introduction to Technical Services. 7th ed. Greenwood Village, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 2002.

Fox, Lisa L. et al. A Core Collection in Preservation, 2nd ed. Chicago: American Library Association, 1992.

Gracy, Karen F. and Jean Ann Croft. "Quo Vadis, Preservation Education? A Study of Current Trends and Future Needs in Continuing Education Programs" in Library Resources & Technical Services, 51:2 (April 2007); p.81-97.

Greenfield, Jane. ABC of Bookbinding : An Unique Glossary with over 700 Illustrations for Collectors & Librarians. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 1998.

---. Books: Their Care and Repair. New York: Wilson, 1983.

Hamilton, Marsha J. Guide to Preservation in Acquisition Processing. Chicago: American Library Association, 1993.

Handbook for Digital Projects: A Management Tool for Preservation and Access. Ed. by Maxine K. Sitts. Andover, Mass.: Northeast document Conservation Center, 2000. Also available electronically via NEDCC web site:

Library Binding: An American National Standard. ANSI/NISO/LBI Z39.78-2000. Bethesda: NISO Press, 2000.

Parisi, Paul A. and Jan Merrill-Oldham. Library Binding Institute Standard for Library Binding. Austin, TX: Library Binding Institute, 1986.

Library Storage Facilities, Management, and Services. SPEC KIT 242. Association for Research Libraries, 1999.

Merrill-Oldham, Jan and Paul A. Parisi. Guide to the Library Binding Institute Standard for Library Binding. Chicago: American Library Association, 1990.

Morrow, Carolyn Clark and Carole Dyal. Conservation Treatment Procedures: A Manual of Step-by-Step Procedures for the Maintenance and Repair of Library Materials. 2nd ed. Littleton, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1986.

Moving Theory into Practice: Digital Imaging for Libraries and Archives, edited by Anne R. Kenney and Oya Y. Rieger. Mountain View, Calif.: Research Libraries Group, 2000.

National Information Standards Organization (U.S.). Data Elements for Binding Library Materials: An American National Standard. Bethesda, MD: NISO Press, c1997.

Preservation Microfilming: a Guide for Librarians and Archivists. Edited by Lisa L. Fox. 2nd ed. Chicago: American Library Association, 1996.

Preservation of Electronic Formats: Electronic Formats for Preservation, edited by Janice Mohlhenrich. Fort Atkinson, Wisc.: Highsmith, 1993.

Preservation of Library & Archival Materials: A Manual, edited by Sherelyn Ogden. 3rd ed. Andover, Mass.: Northeast Document Conservation Center, 1999. Also available at:

Preservation: Issues and Planning, edited by Paul N. Banks and Roberta Pilette. Chicago: American Library Association, 2000.

Ritzenthaler, Mary Lynn. Preserving Archives and Manuscripts. Chicago: Society if American Archivists, 1993.

Swartzburg, Susan G. Preserving Library Materials: A Manual. 2nd ed. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1995.

Wilkinson, Frances C., Linda K. Lewis. The Complete Guide to Acquisitions Management: Library and Information Sciences Text Series. Westport, CT.: Libraries Unlimited, 2003.


Conservation Administration News. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1979-1995.

North American Serials Interest Group. Proceedings. New York: Haworth Press, 1986-

RLG DigiNews

Serials Librarian. New York: Haworth Press, 1976-

Serials Review: New York: Elsevier, 1975-

SPEC Kits. Complete listing. Association for Research Libraries.

Technical Services Quarterly. New York: Haworth Press, 1983-

Electronic Discussion Lists

Conservation DistList (Conservation and Preservation),


PADG-L (Preservation Administration Discussion Group), Archives:; Subscription; Questions:

SERIALST (Serials),

Web Sites

American Library Association. Defining Digital Preservation. (Blog),

American Library Association. Association for Library Collections and Technical Services ALCTS Publications and Resources.

American Library Association. Association for Library Collections and Technical Services. Serials Section.

Amigos Library Services. Imaging and Preservation Services.

Association of Research Libraries. Preservation Program.

California Preservation Program.

Community Emergency Response Team.

CoOL (Conservation OnLine).

Disaster Mitigation database.

Field Guide to Disaster Response.

Library Binding Institute Members.

Library of Congress Preservation.

North American Serials Interest Group. Note that many areas of this web site are for members only.

Northeast Document Conservation Center. and

Regional Alliance for Preservation.

Resources for Serialists.; contains links to information on library binding.

San Diego/Imperial County Libraries Disaster Recovery Network: SILDRN.

SOLINET Preservation Service.

By Virginia Taffurelli, Head of Technical Processing, New York Public Library/Science, Industry & Business Library; Ellen Kovacic, Head of Technical Services, Hebrew Union College, JIR; Andrea Rolich, Preservation Librarian, University of Wisconsin (consultant from PARS)

Prepared: September 2007