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 1 The Course | 2 The Assessment | 3 Feedback

Preservation 101 is a free online textbook that provides a basic introduction to the concepts and standards used to build an effective preservation program. It includes discussion of preservation policies, building and environment, care and handling of collection materials, reformatting, emergency preparedness, and conservation practices.

This newly revised edition includes expanded information on caring for audiovisual collections, digital preservation and copyright, and emergency management. The textbook includes activities and readings designed to aid institutions and private individuals performing their own preservation planning. The Preservation 101 course has a long history as an authoritative and succinct reference for professionals, students, and individuals.

The Preservation 101 textbook is the foundation for NEDCC’s interactive online course in general preservation concepts. A series of 10 live webinars builds on self-paced study between sessions, using assigned readings and other resources to supplement the “classroom” discussions.  The instructor provides lesson plans and feedback on assignments. Participants will have access to webinar recordings and additional tools, while engaging in weekly dialogue with the instructor and fellow participants. More information about the next session of the facilitated Preservation 101 class is available here.


This online resource introduces the preservation of archival collections, in the context of museum, library, and other cultural heritage collections. This text was produced as a result of a grant from the Institute for Library and Museum services, which provides training and resources for library staff and other who do not have easy access to professional development resources on preservation.


  • To educate those working with paper-based, audiovisual, and digital collections about the basics of preservation;
  • To inform participants about the preservation needs of their own collections;
  • To enable and motivate participants to implement preservation planning and practices, on both a short-term and long-term basis;
  • To help participants make the case for improved preservation in their institution; and
  • To prepare participants for completing a general preservation assessment that will prioritize aspects of their collections for preservation. The assessment will identify actions needed to keep collections secure, properly-housed (in appropriate enclosures and storage environment), and accessible through conservation treatment, reformatting, and/or digitization.


  • Staff and volunteers at small- to medium-sized libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural heritage organizations, including support staff, technical and administrative personnel, archivists, librarians, and directors.
  • Staff and volunteers at larger institutions who may face more complex preservation and access scenarios but can benefit from the basic preservation information and resources provided.
  • Private collectors and stewards of family collections who may not need information about organizational structure and funding information, but who can apply the core concepts of preservation, particularly care and handling, to their own materials. 


Preservation 101 is available in two online formats: as a free, self-guided textbook, and as a paid course led by an instructor with activities and participant interaction.  This resource was designed to be used in a variety of ways:

Looking for information about a specific topic? Need a refresher on a certain standard or practice? Use the Preservation 101 textbook as an authoritative reference guide.

Self-Guided Learning
Work at your own pace through each section of the Preservation 101 textbook, completing activities and reading additional resources on your own schedule. There are no assignments or submissions required. Allow a minimum of two to three hours for each session. No instructor is available to answer questions in this self-paced approach, and no continuing education credit is available for completion of this course.

Take the class with an Instructor
NEDCC offers Preservation 101 as an annual online course, conducted by a Preservation Specialist through a series of live webinars and assigned readings. For more information about the next session, please visit  

Group Learning
If you are interested in conducting a custom Preservation 101 course for your institution or regional association, training can be arranged on a fee-for-service basis. Alternatively, an organization may license the Preservation 101 content for facilitating on their own. Please contact [email protected] for more information.

2 the general preservation assessment

Preservation 101 is designed to enable you to gather the information needed for a general preservation assessment of your institution. The purpose of a preservation assessment is to evaluate the storage environment and collections care at an institution, in order to identify priorities and make recommendations for short- and long-term preservation planning.

Each session of Preservation 101 includes aspects of a preservation assessment, with readings and worksheets to assist in gathering information about your institution. A booklet of worksheets is provided to organize your assessment information, provided on the Preservation Assessment page. These checklists and evaluative forms are divided into topics like “The Building and the Environment” and “Exhibition”, which correspond to topics within the Preservation 101 textbook.

This is an optional aspect of the course, but using these worksheets to accrue institutional information will enhance your experience and make it easier to share your findings. You should print out some or all of these documents to use for note-taking as you physically survey your building and collections. Keep in mind that some of the checklists/worksheets may not apply to your particular institution, depending on the type of users you serve and the collections you hold. 

Each session acts as a building block in the process of conducting a preservation planning survey of your institution. If you complete all of the assessment worksheets, you will have collected most of the information needed to summarize and analyze your institution's preservation needs. You will, however, still need to pull this information together into a written survey report after you have finished the course.


Preservation 101 is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities. In order to garner support for future programs of this type, we welcome feedback on your experience using these materials. We would appreciate learning how you used this product and how helpful you found it. Please send your comments to [email protected].



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