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The purpose of library preservation is to ensure the present and future use of information in whatever form it has been recorded. The Preservation Unit’s program for analog materials provides a range of services to care for analog collections. This is accomplished through a variety of collection- and item-level approaches and strategies including emergency preparedness, environmental monitoring, user education, preservation review of brittle materials, book repair/conservation, and shelf-preparaton. Actions are taken to prevent or slow down the deterioration of library materials, improve their condition, and provide access.

Binding & Shelf Preparation

The Preservation Unit works with HF Group for its commercial binding needs. Treatments most requested are standard periodical binding, custom and music book binding, digicover, and KASEBox enclosures. All bindings are per ANSI/NISO/LBI Z39.78-2000 Standard for Library Binding. In addition, the Preservation Unit has a marking/processing section which processes and makes shelf-ready many materials new to the collection that do not come shelf-ready or that require further attention. These services include call number labeling, security stripping and identification stamping.

Book Repair

Books in the general collection are used in many ways, and are exposed to any number of conditions resulting in damage or wear-and-tear -- especially as they circulate. Despite the ubiquitious use of eBooks and online content, approximately 180,000 paper books circulate yearly on average. Book repair offers a low cost source for treatments both simple and complex. Its onsite location keeps books accessible during repair and allows books to be handled on a rush basis. More simple treatments include hinge tightening, paper mends, tip-ins, pockets, rebacking, and the making of in-house enclosures and boxes. In addition to damaged materials identified at the circulation and shelving desks, book repair also works on books old and new that are being added to the collection and need extra treatment.

Care & Handling

Cultivating staff and patron awareness of the need to treat library materials with careful handling is an important task faced by library preservation personnel. Most damage is simply the result of using materials without proper care. We’ve published two Libguides that deal with the care and handling of library materials, as well as identifying damage that already exists.

General Collection Care for Staff
General Collection Care for Users


Providing a suitable environment is the most fundamental means of preserving library and archive collections. The Preservation Unit supplies PEM2 Dataloggers to monitor the storage environment for collections in the Film and Media Archive, Rare Books, and University Archives; the Kranzberg Art & Architecture Library, East Asian Library, and Gaylord Music Library; and the West Campus closed stacks. Data is uploaded on a regular basis to IPI’s eClimateNotebook program which allows for analysis and storage planning.


Emergency preparedness is a component of the preservation program. Sound emergency planning can prevent true disaster or ensure a cost-effective and timely recovery if collections are affected. It can deal with a whole range of events, from routine leaks to large-scale natural disasters.

WUSTL Libraries emergency information resource (public version)

Preservation Review

Preservation receives many brittle books for treatment that are worn or damaged. The act of choosing what gets treatment and deciding why is based on a constantly changing evaluation of the value, use, and condition of an item. Based on information gathered from librarians, consortial and WorldCat holdings, HathiTrust full text availability, and current policies of the Libraries, the Preservation Unit will either repair, box, replace, or in some cases withdraw brittle damaged materials.

Thesis Binding

As a service, the Preservation Unit facilitates the binding of dissertations and theses commercially at HF Group for the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and the School of Engineering & Applied Science. These materials are sent out as received from the two schools.


Collections Care

Northwest Document Conservation Center: NEDCC Preservation Leaflets: NEDCC’s Preservation Services department provides free preservation advice to institutions and individuals worldwide. The Center provides Preservation Leaflets with information on a wide variety of preservation topics and links to additional resources.

American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC): AIC is a national membership organization in the United States dedicated to the preservation of cultural Material. See also: AIC Conservation Wiki

Canadian Conservation Institute: Ten Agents of Deterioration The CCI developed a framework for the preventative conservation of heritage objects in museum and archive collections. This framework identifies the 10 primary threats.

National Information Standards Organization (NISO): Library Binding:  this document gives a detailed and thorough description of the binding process.

Library of Congress: Collections Care:  this Library of Congress page provides suggestions for handling and storage of various media types to prevent damage as well as guidelines for binding and repair should damage arise.

Alaska State Library: Conservation Book Repair:  this website provides access to the chapter of a training manual on book repair, from the basics to more advanced operations.

Collections Emergencies

Library of Congress: Emergency Preparedness, Response & Recovery:  this Library of Congress page provides a list of priorities to keep in mind when disaster strikes.

Western Association for Art Conservation. Salvage at a Glance and Salvage Operations for Water Damaged Archival Collections: A Second Glance

Minnesota Historical Society Conservation. Salvace Procedures for Wet Items

American Institute for Conservation (AIC): Disaster Response and Recovery:  this AIC page provides instructions for how to respond onsite to a disaster and how the collection should be handled in the ensuing fallout.

Harvard Library: Emergency Response Bibliography:  this page provides a number of links to aid in salvage and recovery of various media in differing conditions after a disaster.

Council of State Archivists: CoSA’s Pocket Response Plan: The Pocket Response Plan (PreP) is a concise document for recording essential information needed by staff in case of disaster.

Environmental Monitoring for Collections

Image Permanence Institute: Environmental Management IPI, part of the Rochester Institute of Technology’s College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, is a recognized world leader in the development and deployment of sustainable practices for the preservation of images and cultural property. They are the makers of the PEM2 Datalogger which is used in preventative preservation and environmental monigtoring for museums, libraries, and archives. Also see: Sustainable Preservation Practices Videos and Sustainable Preservation Practices Webinar Recordings.

Conservation OnLine (CoOL): Environmental Monitoring and Control:  this page provides a number of sources dedicated to the monitoring and controlling the environment around collections.

Preservation 101: The Building and Environment:  this page is an interactive lesson designed to help you evaluate the environment of your collection and where it can be improved.

Film - Video - Audio Preservation

Washington University Libraries. Film Preservation Research Guide: A resource guide for those interested in learning more about the field of film preservation and early film technology.

Conservation OnLine (CoOL): Audio Preservation:  this page provides a number of links to aid in audio preservation.

Conservation OnLine (CoOL): Film:  this page provides a number of links to aid in the preservation of motion picture film.

Conservation OnLine (CoOL): Video:  this page provides a number of links to aid in video preservation.

Integrated Pest Management

Conservation OnLine (CoOL): Pest Management:  this page provides a number of links to help prevent and eradicate pest infestations.


American Institute for Conservation (AIC): Caring for Your Treasures:  this AIC page contains information on preserving family collections (photographs, documents, paintings, textiles, and objects). AIC also offers assistance in locating conservators in your area.

American Library Association: Preserving Your Memories:  this page provides methods for preserving your own personal collections at home.

Heritage Preservation: Resources for Protecting and Saving Family Treasures:  this page provides links to help care for your personal collection or historic property.

User Education

IFLA: Principles for Care and Handling of Library Material:  this document instructs patrons how to handle library material so as to preserve it for as long as possible as well as informing what exactly goes into the maintenance of the material.

Library of Congress: Care, Handling, and Storage of Books:  this page gives tips on how to carefully handle books.

American Library Association: Preservation for Kids:  this page provides methods of imparting the importance of preservation on the next generation.


Anthony De Marinis
Librarian Supervisor, Preservation

Phone: 314-935-4287
Email: ademarinis@wustl.edu
Fax: 314-935-9890