Library collections pose unique preservation challenges. Paper and cardboard degrade, leather covers dry out, and aging newsprint turns yellow and disintegrates.
“Just about everything that’s made has what conservators call ‘inherent vice’ – that is, some tendency to break down,” says Alvan Bregman, Head of Technical Services at UBC Library.
Bregman joined UBC Library at the beginning of 2011 to oversee and care for the Library’s physical collections. He’s taken many steps to protect and prolong the condition of the Library’s books and other physical objects – including the recent launch of a preservation campaign during the American Library Association’s Preservation Week from April 21 to 27. The “Take Care of Our Collections” campaign is designed to reinforce a culture of collections care and build a commitment to preservation among staff and users.
Meanwhile, rare and special items from various library branches are moving to the welcoming vault at UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections throughout 2013. “UBC is following the North American trend of consolidating rare book material within an updated, environmentally sound and world-class facility,” says Jo Anne Newyear Ramirez, Associate University Librarian for Collections Management.
While books and other items may be fragile, digital assets can also decay. Dizzying changes in formats, software and more make it difficult to keep electronic assets from disappearing into the digital ether.
“The long-term stewardship of materials both digital and analog is one of the cornerstones of libraries,” says Bronwen Sprout, Digital Initiatives Coordinator. “At UBC Library we are creating and managing a large volume of digital material, and we’re responsible for making sure it is still usable into the future, as with our print material.”
UBC Library has worked with Artefactual Systems, a Lower Mainland company, to implement an open source digital preservation system called Archivematica this spring. Archivematica will help ensure that University publications, databases, theses, research data sets and other types of digital collections endure.