The Preservation Assessment
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Your Institution and Collections
The first step in conducting an assessment is to collect general information about your institution's history and major activities, to provide a context for preservation activities. Other general issues that affect preservation of the collections include overall staffing and budget; long-range strategic planning; future plans for the building, such as renovation or expansion; and the institution's relationship with other local institutions that collect historical materials. This list is, of course, not comprehensive. The surveyor may well discover additional issues particular to the institution.
Complete the following sections of your overall survey, and submit them to the facilitator.
Part 1: Examine all areas of your building to the extent possible, both interior and exterior. Walk around the outside of the building to assess the condition of the exterior. If it is possible to get a good look at the roof from a safe vantage point, do so. Inside, tour the attic and the basement, and any other areas that staff might not normally go.
Complete the Building Conditions section of your overall survey. What are your highest priorities for improving the condition of your building?
Complete the following sections of your overall survey, and submit them to the facilitator. Consider the obstacles you may face in accomplishing the priorities you have set for your building and storage areas.
Complete the "Collections Storage", "Care and Handling", and "Collections Environment" sections of the assessment. What are the highest priorities for improving storage and handling of the collections? Next, consider individual or separate storage areas by completing the "Individual Storage Area" section of the assessment.
Complete the "Repair and Treatment" sections of the assessment. What are the highest priorities for conservation treatment in the collections?
Complete the "Exhibition" section of the assessment. Consider the obstacles you may face in making improvements to storage, handling, and exhibition procedures.
Having learned more about the mechanisms of deterioration and made a general assessment of the condition of your collections, what portions of your paper based collections do you feel are most at risk?
Taking into account condition and risk, and considering which collections are most important to your institution, which paper-based collections do you feel might be your highest priority for preservation, and why? What obstacles do you think you might face in preserving those collections you deem to be most at risk?
Complete the "Paper-Based Collections" section of the assessment. Then, consider different paper formats while completing the "Bound Volumes", "Documents and Manuscripts", "Newsprint", and the "Oversize and Framed Materials" sections.
After reviewing care and handling concepts for general collections, consider the more specialized needs of photographs and mixed-media materials.
Taking into account condition and risk, and considering which collections are most important to the institution, what portions of the film-based and electronic media collections are the highest priority for preservation, and why?
Complete the "Audiovisual and Electronic Media" section of the assessment.
What are the highest short-term priorities for reformatting and treatment of collections?
Complete the "Reformatting/Digitization" section of the assessment.
Does your institution create or acquire digital collections? Do you have adequate organizational and technological infrastructure in place? Complete the "Digital Assets" section of the assessment.
Having learned more about disaster prevention, response, and recovery, what portions of the collections are most at risk? What obstacles may prevent implementing emergency preparedness policies?
Complete the "Emergency Preparedness" section of the assessment.
Review the information that has been gathered to complete this assessment. What are the highest priorities for improving preservation management? What obstacles exist to prevent new policies and improved management?
Review the Sample Executive Summary Report (pdf, 452k) along with the data compiled throughout the assessment. The gathered data should indicate the highest priorities for each preservation topic (e.g., collection condition, building and environment, collections care, treatment, reformatting, disaster planning).
Use these priorities to prepare an executive summary of the assessment observations you made as you worked through this course. While this will not take the place of a detailed written assessment, it will help you in setting priorities for preservation planning. Submit your executive summary to the facilitator.
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