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Penn State University Libraries

About Us

Mission of the Digitization & Preservation Department

The mission of the Digitization and Preservation Department is to plan, manage and implement programs and services to preserve and make accessible materials and collections for all locations in all formats for use by students, faculty, researchers and scholars. In pursuit of our mandate, we stabilize, repair, conserve, perform digital production and reformatting services and offer educational and outreach programs and exhibits. In addition, the Department provides service to the library community by providing timely handling, distribution and processing of all incoming mail including library books and outgoing United States and international mail, including certified or registered mail, meter mail, parcels, specialized couriers and express mail.

Department History

Preservation was formally recognized as a library unit by the University Libraries in July 1990 when a half-time faculty position was created from a position once held in the Acquisitions Department. It was during 1990-1993 that several unfortunate events affecting collections took place that catapulted the University Libraries’ need for a full-time preservation professional. The eruption of a major water pipeline outside Pattee Library flooded sections of the collection, a fast-spreading mold outbreak in the archives and cumulative long-term destructive effects from poor environmental storage conditions prompted the library administration to create a preservation position in 1992/93.

Since 1990, the preservation program has evolved from experimental and fledgling actions to enduring programs in both traditional and digital production. Programs have developed to deter the deterioration of acidic paper, brittle and at-risk materials are routinely reformatted, digital technologies are utilized to protect and enhance access to rare and discrete collections, traditional and innovative techniques are used to stabilize collection and collection emergency response and salvaging plans are in place. In 1998 the preservation unit was designated a Libraries’ department. By 2000/2001 offices and work spaces for preservation and digital production services were designed and constructed on the fourth-floor of Central Pattee Library (aka the Tower) which was funded by the generous support from the Libraries’ administration and private donations. In 2005 the Libraries’ first conservator was hired (part-time) and conservation labs were installed at the Cato Park II annex facility. The conservation lab space – a dry room and a wet room occupy over 1,000 square feet for treatment and assessment work. By July 2006 the department name was changed from Preservation to Digitization and Preservation in recognition of the technological changes affecting libraries and the need to digitize collections for enhanced access and preservation.

Who We Are

The department’s five service units are the Bindery, Collections Care, Digital Conversion, Conservation and the Receiving Room. The supervisors of each service unit, the head of the department, and the budget assistant form the Digitization and Preservation management team. Collectively the team oversees and unifies the department’s operations. See organizational chart in PDF or html format.

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