photo of staff discussing preservation needs Library Preservation Department, University of California, Berkeley


The mission of Berkeley's preservation program is to maintain the collections in serviceable condition. Additional goals are to contribute to the profession by participating in education and training of preservation personnel, and to the research library community through leadership in preservation work at University wide, statewide, and national levels.

The UCB Library Preservation Department is responsible for preservation of paper- and film-based collections. Digital collections are preserved by the UC California Digital Library on behalf of all the campuses of the University. The Preservation Department pursues four objectives toward achieving its goal of maintaining the collections in serviceable condition:

  1. All collections are protected against catastrophic loss from disaster.

    A written disaster response and collection salvage plan is maintained by the Preservation Department to facilitate emergency salvage operations. Salvage equipment is kept on site, and a cache of supplies adequate for salvaging 100,000 volumes is maintained by the libraries of the UC system.

  2. Damaged and deteriorated general collections' materials are repaired or replaced in order to continue to provide library service.

    The UCB collections are used 3-4 million times/year. Artifactually significant special collections are conserved and put in individual protective enclosures to minimize wear. Treatment is kept to a minimum to avoid unwanted modifications of original books and documents and to extend preservation care to as many volumes in the collection as possible with available resources.

  3. Newly acquired materials especially vulnerable to damage or loss of parts are preserved on receipt through library binding and individual protective enclosures.

    A large percentage of the Library's preservation resources is dedicated to the library binding program in order to take full advantage of the long-term preservation benefits that accrue from preservation action taken early in the use life of collections.

  4. Collections are maintained in environmental conditions favorable to their long-term survival.

    While the San Francisco bay area has a climate relatively benign to paper-based collections, newly constructed libraries and storage facilities include relative humidity control and air filtration to maximize the service life of the collections.



Recognition of a need to consolidate disparate preservation activities in the Library and to increase attention to care of the collections led Berkeley to establish the Preservation Department in 1980.

The Department staff offer a full complement of library preservation services for the print and film collections. Staff are organized into five service units, each responsible for a group of related services: binding Preparation, Conservation Treatment, Preservation Microfilming, Preservation Replacement, and Preservation Administration.


Staff in the Preservation Department take considerable pride in providing a high level of responsiveness to urgent Library preservation needs and in accomplishing as much work as possible toward meeting overall collection needs. However, funding is not sufficient to preserve all of Berkeley's collections for future use by students and scholars.

The Department is very fortunate to have several endowments thus far to underwrite preservation staff, supplies, and services. The Hans Rausing Conservatorship Fund supports preservation of the paper-based collections. The UCB Class of '56, perhaps is the first class at a major university to make endowing the Library preservation program its class goal, supports a position for a library conservator.

Gifts to the UCB Library earmarked for preservation of the collections greatly enhance the Library's ability to provide preservation care. Hundreds of gifts from individual donors each year, from a few dollars to a few thousand dollars, enable the Preservation Department to make much more progress than could be made on State funds alone. Inquiries about opportunities for giving to the Library preservation program can be made to the Head of the Preservation Department, , phone: (510) 642-4946.

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