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Planning and Prioritizing
1.6 Priority Actions for Preservation

The following list, constructed for small- to mid-sized historical or non-circulating collections, outlines a range of necessary actions commonly identified by a preservation planning survey. The list is broad, but not exhaustive — it is meant to increase your awareness of common preservation strategies. The list intentionally omits very large-scale solutions like "construct new building" or "install HVAC system" because there are many simpler and less expensive strategies that will make a major difference in the survival of collections. The grand-scale solutions should be a court of last resort.

Activities listed under several different headings may be important for the same problem; some problems require a number of activities. Duplication between sections has been avoided so the list can be used as an action agenda. Activities are not prioritized. Once you have checked off necessary actions, it may be helpful to rank their priority to organize your long-range plan (e.g. 1 = high priority through 5 = low priority).

1. Building maintenance
___Get professional inspection
      ____building
      ____electric
      ____roof
      ____furnace or heating/cooling machinery
      ____masonry
      ____basement/drainage
      ____plumbing
      ____other_________________________

___Assign formal responsibility for building maintenance and supervision
___Set up an inspection schedule
      ____building 
      ____electric
      ____roof
      ____plumbing
      ____grounds
      ____drains and gutters
      ____furnace or heating/cooling machinery
      ____other_________________________

___Set up a building maintenance schedule
___Keep a building maintenance log
___Repair windows
___Repair roof
___Replace roof
___Paint
___Repoint bricks
___Repair masonry
___Replace elements (e.g., steps, sills, drainpipes, etc.)
___Repair elements (e.g., reattach downspouts, flashings, etc.)
___Seal cracks or other openings
___Clean gutters
___Clear exterior drains
___Other ______________________________

2. Climate/Energy Efficiency
___Seal windows (e.g., caulk around panes, add weather-stripping, etc.)
___Weatherstrip doors
___Add insulation
___Lower winter thermostat setting
___Seal and insulate windows in storage area
___Monitor for temperature and RH changes
___Purchase monitoring equipment
      ____hygrothermograph
      ____hygrometer
      ____thermometer
      ____aspirating psychrometer
      ____sling psychrometer
      ____humidity cards
      ____other_________________________

___Relocate collections out of damp basement
      ____from hot attic
      ____away from exterior walls

___Add humidifier
___Add dehumidifier
___Check location and function of vents
      ____open louvers
      ____relocate collections
      ____unblock vents

___Change filters
___Set up a schedule for filter replacement
___Install fans
      ____ceiling
      ____floor
      ____window

___Install storm windows
___Other______________________________

3. Light Control
___Block windows permanently
___Install
      ____drapes
      ____shades
      ____blinds

___Assign responsibility for closing shades, etc. at closing and in periods of      direct light
___Sleeve fluorescent bulbs with UV filtering tubes
___Add UV film or Plexiglas
      ____to windows
      ____to exhibit cases
      ____to framed objects

___Relocate exhibits or collections away from direct light
___Measure and keep records of light levels
___Rotate valuable objects from long-term exhibits
___Install drapes on exhibit cases
___Rotate exhibits that are light sensitive
___Replace bulbs with lower wattage lamps
___Remove bulbs from unnecessary fixtures
___Redirect spotlights to provide indirect lighting for exhibits
___Skylight
      ____add UV protection
      ____paint panes to reduce light
      ____black out panes

___Turn off in-case lights (or remove bulbs)
___Purchase blue wool fading standards
___Set up a light exposure test with blue wool standards

4. Pest Control
___Trim shrubs or greenery to provide an 18" clearance from building (include       ivy)
___Remove potted plants from building interior
___Buy tight-sealing trash container for food remains
___Prohibit food in storage and research areas
___Check kitchen and have staff check desks for food not stored in tightly      sealed containers
___Provide tight-sealed glass or plastic containers for kitchen and desks
___Clean up, including vacuum, immediately after parties
___Remove trash from building each night
___Purchase insect test traps
___Set up a pest monitoring program
___Set up a pest inspection schedule
___Assign responsibility for pest management
___Lower the RH
___Clean storage areas
___Have problems evaluated by exterminator
___Other ________________________

5. Housekeeping
___Assign responsibility for
      ____routine cleaning
      ____supervision of housekeeping

___Set up a cleaning schedule
      ____public spaces
      ____storage

___Set up an inspection schedule (2x/yr.)
___Purchase HEPA vacuum
___Purchase dustcloths
___Purchase a book cart or other mobile "holding" unit
___Create/adopt a housekeeping manual
___Train staff
___Other _________________________

6. Water Protection
___Find source of leaks (list them)
      ______________________________,
      ______________________________,
      ______________________________

___Relocate collections away from known leaks
___Relocate collections from below/adjacent to sinks, restrooms, or other
     water source hazards
___Move all collections items and boxes off of floor in (space name)
      ______________________________,
      ______________________________,
      ______________________________

___Have a professional evaluate damp problem areas
___Install water alarms
___Other water protections _____________________

7. Fire Protection
___Ban or restrict smoking
___Inspect fire detectors
___Clean fire detectors (see manufacturer's instructions)
___Test fire detectors
___Set up a cleaning, testing, and inspection schedule for fire detectors
___Obtain recommendations and quotation for installing automatic fire      detection
___Order NFPA guide to protecting collections from fire (NFPA 909,
     "Protection of Cultural Resources")
___Conduct fire safety inspection
___Inspect fire extinguishers
      ____purchase
      ____recharge
      ____replace

___Mount fire extinguishers in accessible places
___Ask fire department to provide an inspection
___Ask fire department to instruct staff in fire safety
___Remove or correct fire hazards
___Design emergency evacuation plan
___Schedule and conduct fire drills
___Discuss collections and priorities with local fire marshal
___Other fire protections ____________________

8. Security
___Assign responsibility for security
___Install locks on storage areas
___Restrict access to collections
      ____storage areas
      ____collections areas
      ____specific objects

___Upgrade exterior locks
___Replace locks
___Set up a key control system (limit and record keyholders)
___Inventory collections
___Install/improve window locks
___Remove plants obscuring windows
___Obtain recommendation and quotation for automatic intrusion detection
___Set up testing schedule for security system
___Install exterior lights
___Replace bulbs in exterior lights
___Ask police department for recommendations
___Ask police to include your building in patrols
___Design and implement security procedures
      ____call slips
      ____counting out materials for use
      ____inspection of materials after use
      ____personal belongings restricted from library

___Educate staff about security concerns and need for supervising researchers
___Make hours by appointment for researchers so staff can provide      supervision
___Rearrange tables to facilitate researcher supervision
___Assign responsibility for security management
___Seal bookdrop opening to building
___Document ownership of valuable materials
     ____photograph
     ____photocopy distinguishing features
     ____add ownership marks

___Other security precautions _______________________

9. General Risk Reduction (Emergency Preparedness)
___Create a checklist for once-a-day walk-through of storage and exhibit areas ___Create a checklist for closing
___Assign responsibility for daily walk-through/closing
___Create telephone notification tree
___Write emergency preparedness plan
___Assign responsibility for emergency response
___Train staff to use emergency plan
___Locate freezer for emergency storage of wet material
___Store emergency supplies (sponges, etc.)
___Post NEDCC phone number by phones at work and home
___Assign responsibility for 2x/yearly review/update of emergency plan
___Update existing emergency plan
___Identify salvage priorities
___Complete a hazards inventory
___Set up a backup schedule for collections records
___Back up catalog, computer disks, shelf-list, or other collections records
___Provide for a copy of backup records to be kept off-site
___Review insurance coverage with insurer
___Other ______________________________

10. General Storage
___Relocate collections/objects
___Replace plywood or particle board shelves
___Add shelving
      ____regular
      ____oversize

___Add map case(s)
___Add/replace file cabinets
___Add racks and hanging folders for file cabinets
___Box collections to protect them from wood furniture
___Line shelves to protect collections
___Line drawers to protect collections

11. Books
___Replace rubber bands with fabric tape
___Replace knifing bookends with non-knifing book supports
___Add bookends
___Measure for and order custom book boxes
___Make polyester book jackets (for red rot)
___Train staff and users in correct handling techniques
___Straighten shelves
___Turn spine-up volumes spine down
___Make sure books are fully supported by shelves (add oversize shelves if      needed)
___Dust
___Restrict photocopying
___Label restricted books
___Estimate costs, time for
      ____microfilming
      ____photocopying
      ____brittle books

___Weed collection
___Systematically remove inserts (dried flowers, bookmarks, etc.)
___Stop oiling or other treatment of leather
___Change to archival-quality labels (flags),
      ____archival-quality bookplates

___Relocate books of very high value to restricted use and storage
___Inventory or read shelf list
___Arrange evaluation by a conservator
___Other ___________________________

12. Pamphlets
___Make enclosures
___Replace acidic enclosures and binders
___Arrange for evaluation by a conservator
___Other ____________________________

13. Manuscripts and Documents
___Inventory collection
___Catalog collection
___Create finding aids
___Remove or replace fasteners
___Estimate quantities and sizes of
     ____folders
     ____hanging folders
     ____boxes needed for rehousing

___Rehouse in
     ____folders
     ____boxes

___Remove or isolate newsclippings and other very poor paper
___Estimate time and costs of
      ____microfilming
      ____photocopying

___Arrange for evaluation by a conservator
___Other _________________

14. Oversize Objects
___Provide map case or other oversize storage furniture
___Make folders
     ____Melinex
     ____paper

___Replace tubes for rolled storage
      ____buy "archival" tubes
      ____wrap tubes with neutral or buffered paper
      ____roll objects on outside of tubes

___Rearrange furniture to provide enough space for safe handling
___Provide a large work surface
___Arrange for evaluation by a conservator
___Other ______________________________

15. Framed Objects
___Reframe using museum-quality mats
___Unframe and store in
      ____folders
      ____mats

___Store in
      ____boxes
      ____flat file

___Build framed storage bin
___Replace hanging hardware (e.g. eye bolts with "D"-rings)
___Rotate exhibits
___Arrange for evaluation by a conservator
___Other ______________________________

16. Newsprint/Newsclippings
___Contact U.S. Newspaper Project for microfilm information
___Estimate costs, time for
      ____microfilm
      ____photocopying
      ____rehousing

___Isolate clippings from good-quality paper using
      ____interleaves
      ____or folders
      ____Melinex
      ____paper

___Photocopy
___Microfilm
___Other _______________________

17. Scrapbooks/Albums
___Restrict access by researchers
___Photocopy
___Microfilm
___Box
___Arrange for evaluation by a conservator
___Other _________________________

18. Photographs
___Inventory
___Catalog
___Create finding aids
___Train staff in proper handling techniques
___Purchase and use lint-free gloves
___Separate photographs from document files
___Estimate sizes and quantities of
     ____enclosures
     ____boxes

___House or rehouse collections
___Provide proper support for photos on brittle mounts
___House prints and negatives separately
___Isolate
      ____nitrate
      ____early safety film

___House nitrate/early safety film negatives in individual buffered enclosures
___Duplicate (list category or collections ______________________)
___Photocopy original prints for researcher use
___Set up a procedure for reproducing photographs for researcher use
___Rotate exhibited photographs
___Frame or reframe photographs using museum-quality mats
___Unframe photographs and store in
     ____boxes
     ____flat files
     ____hanging files

___Sleeve and box glass plate negatives
___Make enclosures for broken glass plate negatives
___Investigate cold storage for color photos
___Make enclosures for cased photographs
___Arrange for evaluation by a conservator
___Other __________________________

19. Photocopying
___Arrange for facsimile reproduction of books by photocopying and
     commercially binding (list what or which collections)
___Train staff to photocopy books without damaging them
___Purchase and use permanent durable paper
     (according to ANSI standard Z39.48-1992 R1997) for photocopying
___Obtain electrostatic photocopier (xerographic process)
___See additional photocopying activities (above) _________________
___Other __________________________

20. Microfilm
(This assumes your institution uses or would use an outside vendor for microfilming.)
___Obtain microfilm reader
___Check national and local bibliographic records for existing microfilm of      collections you think should be filmed
___Arrange for microfilming (what or which collections ___________________)
___Obtain and read published standards for microfilm
___Review/revise microfilm contract
___Establish and implement quality control/ inspection procedures
___Record original microfilm made for your collections in the national      bibliographic database
___Set up a maintenance program for microfilm readers
___Train researchers and staff to use microfilm readers
___Have original microfilm being used by researchers duplicated on silver-      based film
___Store a master copy of each original, unique microfilm in secure, climate-      controlled storage
___Design and implement a repair (splicing) program for damaged microfilm      according to published standards
___See above for additional microfilm activities _______________________
___Seek referral or advice from a preservation professional about preservation      microfilm
___Other ____________________

21. Commercial Binding
This section assumes that you are currently using commercial or "library" binding for some categories of your collection. If you are uncertain whether this is an appropriate tool for your preservation effort, please contact NEDCC's Field Service Office for discussion.
___Obtain and read published standards and guide produced by the      LibraryBinding Institute
___Design and implement a quality-control inspection process for rebound      volumes
___Discuss binding options with your commercial binder
___Create or adopt guidelines for binding choices for your collection
___Review/revise commercial binding contract
___Seek advice from a preservation professional about preservation binding      choices
___Other ___________________

22. Repair Program
This section assumes that your staff does not include a professional conservator or formally trained repair technician.
___Assign responsibility for deciding what can be done in-house
___Decide what procedures are feasible
___Review goals and plans with a conservator
___Assign responsibility for
      ____repairs
      ____supervision

___Train assigned staff to carry out responsibilities
___Obtain manuals and AV resources to provide backup for training
___Identify an experienced technician or conservator for advice and assistance
___Identify and obtain necessary equipment and supplies
___Set up a space reserved for repairs
___Create or adopt guidelines for identifying objects in need of repair
___Create guidelines for matching repairs to damage
___Document repair procedures and materials in use
___Have a conservator or experienced technician review treated objects and      make recommendations (provide quality control)
___Coordinate other preservation strategies (microfilm, binding) with repair      program
___Flatten materials for storage

23. Collections Policies
___Write or refine mission statement
___Design and implement policies
      ____gift
      ____access
      ____cataloging
      ____loan
      ____security
      ____collections use
      ____exhibit
      ____collections care

24. Staff/User Education
___Staff/volunteer education
      ____consciousness raising
      ____handling materials
      ____security
      ____emergency preparedness
      ____other ___________________________

___Board/administration/management education
      ____consciousness raising
      ____handling materials
      ____security
      ____emergency preparedness
      ____other ___________________________

___Community education
      ____consciousness raising
      ____handling materials
      ____security
      ____emergency preparedness
      ____other _______________

___Obtain educational materials
___Distribute printed information
___Organize an educational program
___Design an exhibit
___Meet with
      ____staff/volunteers
      ____management/board
      ____community

25. Fundraising
___Identify a specific project for funding
___Develop a budget
___Learn about available funding sources
___Obtain grant guidelines
___Form a cooperative for fundraising
___Organize a workshop on fundraising
___Write a proposal for funding
___Discuss funding needs with board or management

 

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