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Preservation Activities at Mann

The Preservation unit has primary responsibility for maintaining the collections through the treatment of damaged or fragile materials; reformatting materials when use is no longer possible due to poor condition or embrittled paper; preventative preservation through environmental monitoring, disaster preparedness, and staff and user education; the coordination of an active records management program for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; and the development of digital library projects.


Mann Library materials are heavily used, and many items in its collections are in need of repair or conservation. The goal of the conservation program is to ensure that the overall condition of the collection is maintained and that materials remain accessible to faculty, researchers, and students. A full-time conservation technician and student assistants are responsible for the repair of the circulating collections through preventative maintenance, the construction of protective enclosures, and a wide range of minor, intermediate, and major treatments that return worn and damaged materials to useful condition. The conservation technician is also responsible for identifying material in Special Collections that needs treatment, performing a range of conservation treatments, constructing protective enclosures for non-rare material, and referring rare material for treatment to the Conservation Lab at Olin Library.


One of the major problems facing research libraries is that of materials printed on acidic paper. Between 1850 and 1950, most published materials in the US were printed on acidic paper. Over the course of time, the paper has become weakened and embrittled, sometimes to the point where the volume is no longer useable. Since it is not possible to restore embrittled paper, reformatting is often the only option for these volumes. With support from New York State, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Preservation has undertaken a series of projects to microfilm or digitize important endangered collections. These projects follow all national standards and guidelines in order to preserve the intellectual content of these endangered volumes.

Digital Library Development 

In order to preserve and increase access to important endangered library collections, Preservation has undertaken a series of projects to convert embrittled materials to digital images. By working closely with scholars, historically important titles for three disciplines, agriculture, home economics, and beekeeping have been identified. These titles are then converted into digital images to create online access to the materials. The images are OCR'd to facilitate keyword searching. More recently, Preservation has begun investigating reformatting endangered audio recordings into digital audio and video tapes into digital video. Projects are being developed in these areas, and the digitized audio and video material will be made available on the web.

Records Management

An active records management program for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) is under development. This program works with CALS faculty and staff on the maintenance, transfer, and disposition of the College's records and papers. The Records Management Assistant provides reference assistance relating to CALS history.