An environmental assessment, sometimes called a building survey, provides an overview of general building conditions, identifies specific situations that might shorten the life expectancy of collections, and recommends actions to correct those situations. Surveys are usually the first step in managing library environmental conditions and emergency preparedness planning.
A preservation assessment considers many of the same factors found in an environmental assessment but focuses more specifically on the needs of the collections. For example, a repository may have questions about the preservation of its photographic holdings. A photograph conservator can carry out a preservation assessment by determining the types of photographic materials in the collection and what their needs are in terms of storage, handling, cataloging and treatment. This service is a good first step in developing preservation priorities for collections.
Collection Surveys and Assessments
A condition survey is an essential tool for assessing the stability of individual items and prioritizing treatment or housing activities. A survey is a systematic activity in which the condition of each photograph in a collection is noted on a custom form or spreadsheet. The survey is especially useful for small to medium-size collections. In some cases, a condition assessment may be more appropriate for a collection. Less formal than a survey, an assessment may flag photographs for treatment or custom housing, but does not provide condition notes for each item. Condition assessments are particularly useful when planning digitization projects.
Preservation review is a decision-making processs for individual items that includes evaluation of the condition of the item, its intended future use, and the advisability of reformatting or replacement. Preservation review can be triggered by research use, acquisition, exhibition or loan, collection transfer, or emergency recovery. This service enables the strategic use of both preservation and repository resources.
The units below provide these services for the following types of materials:
Weissman Preservation Center: Special collections
Collections Care: General and circulating collections
Media Preservation: Audiovisual collections