The millions of rare books, manuscripts, prints, drawings, maps, photographs, and other holdings that Harvard University has amassed for research and teaching since its inception in 1636 make up one of the world’s largest collections of cultural materials. Among Harvard’s holdings are both general research collections of tremendous breadth and depth, and rare and unique objects of inestimable value for supporting studies in the sciences and humanities.
To promote their longevity and broad accessibility, the collections require a comprehensive program that encompasses large-scale preservation and digitization. Towards this end, the Weissman Preservation Center—in partnership with Harvard’s faculty, librarians, curators, and archivists—helps to ensure the survival of the University’s great collections for students and scholars far into the future.
Named in honor of Paul M. Weissman ’52 and Harriet L. Weissman, Harvard Library’s Weissman Preservation Center (WPC) provides services to repositories throughout Harvard. The Center:
- monitors and recommends improvements to environmental conditions in collection storage areas;
- assesses the condition of collections and identifies vulnerable materials requiring preservation;
- reviews treatment options and conserves rare and unique materials that are damaged;
- coordinates preservation actions in preparation for digitization;
- responds to library collection emergencies;
- collaborates with library staff on the safe exhibition of collections;
- conducts scientific analysis of rare items that informs treatment decisions and often adds to the scholarly understanding of how an object was created or used;
- makes accessible preservation and conservation publications from the WPC resource library through HOLLIS;
- offers on-site consultations, staff training, and workshops to promote preservation awareness; and
- advocates for improved local, national, and international preservation standards and services.
WPC manages a comprehensive conservation program for the care and treatment of rare books, manuscripts, prints, drawings, maps, photographic materials, and other rare and valuable materials in special collections. In addition, WPC's Preservation Programs and Outreach group coordinates with all six Preservation Services units to offer planning and consultation services, preservation-related programs, training sessions, workshops, and other educational opportunities and resources for the Harvard community.