To support the research and teaching needs of the scholarly community through the preservation, conservation, and continuing accessibility of research library and archival materials.


The program of preservation and collection maintenance at Cornell University is concerned with the physical conservation treatment, reformatting, media, and safe handling of the collection. All these operations are closely related, and some cross-training of staff enables a more flexible response. The collection maintenance staff must shelve and move large numbers of books every day, and participate in a massive program of moving materials to remote storage at the University's remote storage facilities.

About the Program

The Department of Preservation and Conservation was established in its present form in August 1985 with the appointment of the Cornell University Library's first preservation and conservation librarian, John F. Dean. The New York State landmark Library Omnibus legislation of 1984 (Chapter 917) provided for the designation and funding of eleven comprehensive research libraries to establish and maintain preservation programs. The eleven research libraries: Columbia, Cornell, Rochester, Syracuse, New York Public Library, New York University, New York State Library, State University of New York Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, and Stony Brook, initially received an annual award of $90,000 later growing incrementally to its current $126,000. Each of the Eleven Comprehensive Research Libraries must submit a Five-Year plan to the State, with the most recent being for the period 2005-2010.

The Cornell program grew rapidly, with the early appointments of a Conservation Reference/Liaison Librarian quickly followed by a book conservator and a paper conservator. Timely grant awards from the Mellon Foundation and New York State provided some of the impetus and allowed the establishment of a well-equipped conservation facility. Radical changes in the University Library's periodical binding styles and organization of new acquisitions helped to streamline existing operations and enable the re-allocation of funds for program development.

In July 2002, the Department of Preservation and Collection Maintenance was established with the creation of Instruction, Research, and Information Services (IRIS), now Public Services and Assessment (PSA) and the merging of preservation and collection management, adding responsibility for all stacks maintenance, microforms and newspapers, serials management, maps, and Media. With the exception of the Paper Conservation unit, located in the Library Annex, all operations are located in Olin Library.

For more information or if you have questions, please write to conservation@cornell.edu.