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Promoting Your Program and Meeting Funding Demands for Preservation and Security

14. Strategies for Funding Preservation and Security
James G. Neal

Library preservation and security programs increasingly compete for resources to meet an expanding array of rigorous collection, service, and technology needs. In a survey of Association of Research Libraries members concerning the future of special collections, lack of funding for preservation was overwhelmingly identified as the leading preservation challenge. [1] Libraries are developing innovative strategies to build budget support and to attract new external funds through grants, statewide initiatives, fund-raising campaigns, and entrepreneurial activities.

As institutional budgets and national funding programs have fallen woefully short of library preservation and security needs, new demands, such as the archiving of digital resources, have only further eroded library capabilities. Few libraries have been able to make a strong case for stewardship of the collection as an integral component of development priorities. Progress will require fiscal agility, innovative packaging of collection and preservation needs, and development of new markets for preservation services.

In this paper, I will outline the range of preservation and security strategies now available to libraries, the infrastructure and tools needed to advance a successful program, the various audiences requiring education and advocacy and the core qualities and tensions integral to a library preservation and security effort. I will discuss the way each of these elements intersects with resource development and will describe activities that may be implemented to attract support.

Besides documenting lack of funding as the primary concern, the Association of Research Libraries survey on preservation programs highlighted several additional areas as priority challenges. These include: the preservation and archiving of digital resources, the reformatting of brittle books, the creation and maintenance of appropriate environmental controls, and the recruitment and retention of expert staffing. Each of these broad areas of concern presents not only extraordinary funding needs but also rich opportunities for creative financing.

A preservation program must be presented as a comprehensive strategy, particularly in a research library setting, and all of its core elements must be clearly identified. These elements include, first of all, a collection condition survey and documentation of need. Preventive and stabilization procedures, repair and conservation procedures, reformatting techniques, and environmental monitoring activities are also important. The strategy must embrace as well facility improvements, collection management and handling, and staff training. User education, digital archiving, and disaster preparedness must also be addressed. Each of these many components requires a firm financial commitment.

Preservation strategies should be advanced in the context of a program plan that includes a well-articulated vision and clear priorities for action. The plan must spell out measurable objectives, with supporting documentation and requirements for requisite expertise and essential resources. It should articulate clear and reasonable expectations and include a commitment to assessment. Such a plan can be used to rally institutional support and attract external interest and funding. The essential resources are significant: professional staff, clerical and student staff, equipment, supplies, technology, and facilities are all possible resources.

As the preservation program is built, many important issues must be considered that are linked to resource development. Will the program be comprehensive, or will it specialize in selected areas or activities? Will it focus on the working and circulating collections, or on the special and rare collections? Will the emphasis be on traditional techniques, or on new and experimental strategies? Will the priority be conservation of the original works, or creation of surrogate copies? Will the program champion local needs for preservation, or serve as a model for national programs?

A balance between access to collections and the security of collections must be achieved. Will base budget support be provided, or will the program rely primarily on "soft" and external sources of funds? Will the preservation work be handled by in-house staff, or will operations be outsourced to external individuals and firms? The preservation program might be advanced primarily as an institutional initiative, or consortium approaches might be sought. Will a preservation program be developed, or will preservation activities be carried out as a series of funded projects with one-time financing? Obviously these questions present choices, and most institutional preservation efforts will prove to be a cross between several options. The orientation of a program must be clearly spelled out, however, because it will drive funding and fund-raising decisions.

Less clear are ways to attract external funds to support collection security needs. It may be argued that grants organizations and individual donors view such operations as the core responsibility of the institution. Policies and procedures that manage collection theft, collection mutilation, control of users, control of access, user surveillance, special storage, and the use of surrogate copies might be difficult to sell outside the library. Another new area of concern is the security of electronic data. In all cases, the cost of managing security and the impact of collection loss and damage must be clearly presented.

Grant funding for preservation programs in libraries has traditionally come from several sources, namely national foundations, family foundations, federal agencies, state legislative projects, or corporations. In general, the interest of these granting agencies has gone from support for institutional preservation programs to national demonstration and leadership projects. The focus is on the clarity of objectives and the project plan, the national contribution and impact of the work, and the significance of the collection being preserved. The innovative application of new technologies, the choice of appropriate strategies, and the availability of necessary resources and expertise are also important to funders. It is important for the institution to establish a record of institutional commitment and accomplishment, appropriate and effective partnerships, and rigorous assessment strategies.

External fund-raising for preservation programs in libraries has also traditionally come from several sources. The support of library friends groups, annual gifts programs, and special project funding are three of these. Others include the creation of preservation endowments for positions or programs, the creation of collection endowments that include preservation components, adopt-a-book programs, planned giving and bequests, and naming opportunities. Libraries that have been successful in attracting support from donors have been able to link collection development and preservation activities, to demonstrate that the purchase of an item for the collection may involve an ongoing responsibility for its maintenance. Libraries also have been able to tap into donor interest in new technologies and the ability to extend and enhance use through digitization while also enabling the preservation of the original artifact.

Library fund-raising for preservation should focus on traditional support groups, those individuals having a strong interest in the book, and "new generation" support, from those individuals who look to the library for leadership in the use of information technology. An important consideration in such fund-raising is the recruitment of unrestricted support that can be used for changing needs and opportunities versus funds that are earmarked for a specific activity or class of materials. In all cases, preservation must be linked to the academic excellence of the institution, to the national significance and impact of the preservation activity, or to the institutional reputation and visibility. Depending on the audience, links to innovation or to historical roles and values are also important.

A new area of external resource development that libraries should advance is entrepreneurial or new market development. Individual libraries may be able to organize preservation services that would be of interest to other libraries, individuals, or organizations. Leveraging assets such as expertise, experience, or technologies, for example, could encourage the creation of new sources of income. Services such as basic repairs, special conservation treatments, digitization services or education and training are several areas where such external work could be productive. Even collection storage, research and development, consultation, and program planning might be appealing for new markets.

Ultimately success in resource development for preservation and security programs in libraries will be determined by effective education and advocacy with key leaders and funders and also with the user community. We need to inform the administrative and volunteer leadership of our organizations of the impact of preservation and security on learning and scholarship. We need to educate faculty, researchers, students, and community users about responsible use of library collections and also about library commitment to their long-term availability. We need to interest alumni and friends in the significant impact of their financial support for preservation. We should stress its importance to the success of the library and the larger institution. We need to interest vendors in partnering with libraries in the research and development activities that will produce innovative tools for the preservation and security of our collections. And we must encourage new and expanded federal and foundation support for preservation as integral to our national interest.

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  The Library of Congress >> To Preserve and Protect
   September 15, 2008
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