Preservation Tips

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In honor of Preservation Week and the 30th Anniversary of the Preservation Standing Committee, the Committee introduced a monthly feature, the "Preservation Tip of the Month," in April 2013. The monthly tip, sent as an e-mail via the TS-SIS discussion list, highlights tricks, resources, and collections to help you reach your preservation goals.

If you have topics you would like to see highlighted, or suggestions for resources, please send those to Lauren Seney at or Celia Gavett at

December 2016

Do you have an unresolved question about digital preservation you've been meaning to investigate? Or has your library recently puzzled through a problem that you suspect others might be facing too? If so, consider browsing Digital Preservation Q&A, a joint project of the Open Planets Foundation and the National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA). A quick registration step enables you to ask and answer questions from other members of the community, and vote on response relevance.

November 2016

This month, the Preservation Committee highlights David S. H. Rosenthal's blog. Rosenthal is the co-founder of the LOCKSS program, and posts interesting discussions of his work in Digital Preservation, and comments on current related events of interest in general.

October 2016

This summer Tedd Anderson, Conservation Technician at Duke University, wrote two entertaining blog posts on his successes boxing books of unusual size. The first details his work with Audubon’s Birds of America (40 inches by 27 inches) and the second with Duke’s collection of miniature books (several of which can fit together on your palm). Read for tips on how to make an enclosure that isn’t so heavy it adds an extra 20 pounds to an already hefty volume or so loose that a book might be dropped and lost.

September 2016

The Preservation Committee is highlighting the Digital POWRR project (Preserving digital Objects With Restricted Resources) this month. POWRR includes a blog, a list of digital preservation tools, a white paper, links to related articles, and information about their workshops. The project began in 2012 and has entered a new phase to take their workshops on the road and across the country.

August 2016

This month, the Preservation Committee highlights the 2016-2017 revision of the Library of Congress Recommended Formats Statement. Notably, this latest version adds Websites as a seventh format category. An additional introduction is available at The Signal.

July 2016

Does your library have microfiche or microfilm collections? Microforms can themselves be stable, low-maintenance formats for preserving information, but they do have some distinct needs for proper storage, handling, and disaster planning. The NEDCC provides a leaflet with helpful guidelines.

June 2016

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer. And to those on the east coast it also means preparatopms should begin for hurricane season. With that in mind, the Preservation Committee is sharing dPlan™: The Online Disaster-Planning Tool. This tool is a free, online template for writing a customized disaster plan at your institution.

May 2016

Does your library have plans to observe May Day? In additional to the traditional celebrations associated with May 1st, the Society of American Archivists encourages information professionals to reflect on the current state of our libraries and archives. Check out some Ideas for MayDay Activities, such as running through scenario exercises with your staff, or refresh your knowledge with some MayDay Quick Tips drawn from the NEDCC.

April 2016

The month of April brings us Preservation Week. Does your library have plans to celebrate? If so, we’d love to hear about them! If you don’t have an idea for a way to celebrate Preservation Week, ALA provides a toolkit of resources. A passive way to promote preservation in your library is to print out the Save Your Stuff! Preservation Tips card set and put them out in public and/or staff areas of your library. These colorful cards will grab users’ attention and provide them with a link to get more information about preserving a variety of materials.

March 2016

Does your institution have a preservation plan? Have you identified the materials or collections that should be prioritized to prevent deterioration? The Preservation Self-Assessment Program (PSAP) can help you develop a preservation plan that is as unique as your collections. This tool, developed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with the support of IMLS, helps institutions develop a targeted plan through assessment of the paper, photographic, and audiovisual materials in their collection. Every collection is unique and PSAP will help you determine the condition of your collections and prioritize your preservation goals accordingly.

February 2016

The Preservation Committee invites you to take the National Digital Stewardship Alliance's current survey on web archiving activities in the U.S. Consider taking a few minutes to chime in on your own organization's current practices, and peruse the results from past surveys completed in 2011 and 2013.

January 2016

The Preservation Committee shares a few podcasts related to preservation and conservation topics. What are your favorite shows to stay informed and enjoy a few moments of aural escape? We look forward to your comments to grow this list!

December 2015

Is your library looking ahead to a couple weeks of quieter hours as the end of the year approaches? With lower patron traffic, it could be a great time to head into the stacks to make progress on physical preservation needs.

This month, the Preservation Committee highlights the Northeast Document Conservation Center's excellent Preservation Leaflets. If end-of-year re-filing or shelf-reading projects are in the works, why not also incorporate some cleaning of books and shelves, or assess your current storage methods and handling practices?

November 2015

Is your institution interested in Web Archiving? Are you trying to decide what parts of your website warrant preservation and which parts don’t? Have you already developed policies that you’d like to share with the greater community?

This month the Preservation Committee is highlighting a resource in progress, a community spreadsheet created to provide a centralized location for publicly available web archiving policies. This list was initially shared via the Society of American Archivists (SAA) Web Archiving Roundtable email list, but is now publicly available in Google Sheets and open for anyone to add additional policies.

October 2015

Has your library considered crowdsourcing as a way to expand description and access to your digitized archives or historic collections? Do you need some help determining its feasibility?

This month the Preservation Committee is highlighting a recent blog on the topic of crowdsourcing. While at face value this may not seem like a preservation tool, it is important to remember that access is an essential component of what we do in libraries and creating access to digitized versions of items not only validates the conversion process, but preserves the integrity of the original while reaching a wider audience. Creating more detailed and interlinked descriptions of the items in our collections also helps to collectively preserve the history of our institutions.

In the blog Cultural Institutions Embrace Crowdsourcing not only are examples of successful crowdsourcing projects in libraries given, but there are a wide variety of activities that allow for volunteer participation – some of them even include games! Tagging items with descriptive metadata and transcription are two of the biggest uses for crowdsourcing, however, activities such as correcting OCR or subtitling videos, adding geospatial coordinates, and cross-referencing data are also important tasks that can be accomplished by users across the web. If you are not sure how to implement a crowdsourcing project keep an open mind and check out what other institutions are doing.

September 2015

Is your institution prepared for a disaster, natural or otherwise? While we hope that this year presents a quiet hurricane season, the Preservation Committee would like to share an article on 6 disaster recovery do's and don'ts from Hurricane Katrina survivors. As important as our analog materials are, hopefully we all have a stable plan for protecting those materials already in place. This article focuses more on protecting digital assets and provides insight from those that had to learn the hard way.

August 2015

This month the Preservation Committee highlights the updated Library of Congress Recommended Formats Statement. This is an update to the Recommended Format Specifications that were first published last summer. Please note, that due to the dynamic nature of digital formats these standards will continue to be updated on an annual basis and the period for comment for next year’s revisions will open soon. A brief synopsis of the changes appears in The Signal.

July 2015

Are you working on digital projects this summer? Do you need some guidance in digitization, best practices, standards, or metadata? To assist with those new and ongoing digital projects, the Preservation Committee highlights a collection of Digital Preservation Links. Julie C. Swierczek has amassed an impressive collection of documents related to the specifics of digitization and preservation of digital objects, as well as more general resources for archives in general. If you’re working with digital objects of any type, this is a good resource to utilize to assist in answer questions as they arise.

June 2015

This month the Preservation Committee highlights a blog that really lets someone else do the work in collecting information about digital preservation/archiving/curation and long-term access to digital materials. Chris Erickson has developed the blog Digital Preservation Matters. Whether you sign up for the feed or just check the site occasionally it is a treasure trove of information on these topics. Any given month will show a variety of studies, scholarly articles and news articles on digital preservation topics throughout the globe that he has collected in one convenient location.

May 2015

As the summers months arrive and the potential for natural disasters such as tornados, hurricanes, or wildfires increases, it's a good time to make sure your institution has a disaster plan in place. If you do have a plan in place, it's a great time to review it to make sure policies and procedures are up to date. And whether your plan is current or not, it's also a great time to review procedures, or even run some drills, with your potential staff. If you don't know where to get started, check out the Society of American Archivists' MayDay activities. These activities can be performed throughout the year to make sure that staff and collections stay safe in the event of the unpredictable. You can also look at these templates and examples if you need a starting place for developing a disaster plan.

April 2015

Are you working to develop a Digital Preservation Solution? Do you know what questions you should be asking of potential solutions? This month we highlight a list of potential questions to ask when you are considering short and/or long-term digital preservation solutions and the financial impact it will have on your institution. Cost is a big factor when it comes to preservation. Digital materials differ from analog materials in that all materials in a digital environment will have ongoing costs associated with their long-term preservation. To help assess and manage the costs of digital preservation and the solutions that ensure future access to digital content, the MetaArchive Cooperative has developed Getting to the Bottom Line: 20 Cost Questions for Digital Preservation. For more than a decade the MetaArchive Cooperative has worked with a variety of institutions to answer or respond to many of the questions on this list. They now offer the list as an open resource to all to assist in the decision-making process for digital preservation solutions.

March 2015

This month's preservation tip is a survey seeking to identify Law Library Archivists. The TS-SIS Preservation Committee is conducting this survey with the goal of developing a directory of Law Library Archivists from across the country. Our goal is to provide this resource to the community in the coming months and we have already seen an enthusiastic response. However, we know there are many of you that we have not heard from that have an archival component to your job, even if your title is not that of an archivist. If you would like to be included in the directory, please take a few minutes to complete the survey.

February 2015

The preservation tip this month highlights an educational opportunity. On Friday, February 6, 2015 the Legal Information Preservation Alliance (LIPA) hosted the webinar Digitization Is Possible: Identifying & Overcoming Barriers. The webinar focused on three topic areas: collection development, digitization, and digital asset management. Participants were polled about their perceptions of the most significant barriers in each topic category and the results steered the discussion. The webinar concluded with the development of a specific tool kit to overcome the barriers represented by attendees. Watch the webinar (1 hour, 2 minutes) and download the associated tool kit and documents.

January 2015

This month's resource is useful for those venturing into multimedia reformatting. Our institutions have gained experience and confidence in digitizing paper materials and with that, our goals have migrated to converting various types of multimedia. Digitizing photos presents its own challenges, but one can easily be overwhelmed when it comes to reformatting audio and video files. This is in part because there are fewer standards and resources available to those performing multimedia conversions in comparison to those digitizing books, manuscripts, and other written texts. In many cases doing something is better than nothing so that original media does not degrade beyond the point where it can be accessed. However, we all feel a little better about these conversions when there is some sort of consensus that we are using the correct formats, codecs, metadata, etc. To help guide decisions, the Still Image Working Group and Audio-Video Working Group of the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative (FADGI) have developed guidelines for using specific processes, methodologies, and/or metrics when working with a variety of multimedia. The members of these working groups are from federal agencies that share a common goal of developing a unified approach to digitizing historical content. The development of guidelines began in 2007, with the first approved by the working groups in 2009; several are still under review. See the FADGI standards.