Note: Though the problems and solutions presented in these cases studies are
very real, the libraries and people represented are fictional.
1. The Albatross Library
2. The Metropolitan Library
3. The Hangon Institute Library
The Albatross Library
The fictional Albatross Library is the main library of the University of Booster.
The university is considered important and progressive. The library has around
2 million volumes and a local on-line catalogue system. Special collections
has a good general collection of rare books and manuscripts, but its crowning
glory is the ornithology collection, which contains many older manuscripts,
hand-colored prints of birds, several thousand recorded bird songs, and many
of naturalist Thomas Heron's early-20th-century papers and field manuals. The
library has his entire collection.
The Thomas Heron collection has been rather neglected, but appears to be in
generally sound condition with the following exceptions: the bird books are
soiled from unmonitored handling and clumsy exhibition procedures; the bindings
have cracked, crumbling leather; the bird sounds are recorded on a wide variety
of media from numerous sources; the collection is still stored in Heron's original boxes and
the field manuals are on fragile paper; and none of the collection records
is in machine-readable form. The bird books are catalogued, the recordings
are inventoried, and the Heron papers have a list.
The preservation program, quite new, is limited to a preservation administrator,
Penny Wise. Penny's field managerial experience is limited, as she was appointed
directly from a library school that offered extensive courses in preservation
but little practical experience. However, she has a good theoretical grasp
of general preservation issues and is eager to build the program. Penny's staff
consist of five technicians: three for the preparation of materials for commercial
binding, book plating, and call number marking, and two for
the repair of damaged books. The technicians are at the lower end of the library's
pay scale and have little library experience beyond their immediate work assignments.
Wise has located George Heron, grandson of Thomas, and he has expressed an
interest in supporting the preservation of the collection. However, as a
fervent believer in self-help, he insists that the library obtain funding
from an outside source first. When outside funding has been awarded, Heron
will match dollar for dollar what the funding agency has provided. Penny
Wise must devise a strategy that will develop the preservation program, preserve
part of the collection, and take advantage of Heron's offer. How should Wise
There are a number of ways Wise could respond to this challenge. Ideally, she
should develop a long-term plan for preservation, identifying where she expects
the preservation program to be in five years. The five-year plan would cover
all aspects of preservation, from basic collection care to remedial treatment,
and microform to digital imaging.
The plan should lay out requirements in terms of space, equipment, and staffing.
She should share the five-year plan with a funding agency and George Heron,
and try to come to an agreement over what parts of the preservation program
to focus on. A conservation facility, for example, could be built and named
in honor of Mr. Heron or his grandfather.
The external funding agency could be asked to either share the cost of the
facility with Heron or fund a different portion of the preservation program,
such as a reformatting operation. The need for the conservation operation must
be justified in terms of the value of the Heron artifacts and/or the need for
a reformatting operation. A compelling case can be made that accomplishing
portions of the five-year plan will result in conservation of the Heron collection.
The Metropolitan Library
The Metropolitan Library is the main public library of a large city, with
smaller branch libraries spread throughout the urban area. The library plays
a mentoring role in the region, its professional staff providing training in
cataloguing and electronic access. The library director, Susan Green, provides
general leadership to all the librarians in the region.
The Metropolitan Library has staff engaged in preservation activities in its
technical services department. The library has a modest microfilming operation,
with an old but reliable Recordak MRD2 camera, and various processing equipment
provided years before by UNESCO. This unit microfilms city newspapers, but
production is low, as equipment is constantly breaking and spare parts are
difficult to find. The library has had agreements to provide copies of newspaper
microfilm to libraries overseas on a cost-recovery basis, but orders have fallen
off because of inconsistent quality and an inability to provide film in a timely
Green feels that the library is not fulfilling its responsibility to preserve
newspapers and engage with overseas libraries in an activity that will directly
benefit the library. She knows that the microfilming unit needs to be improved
and the equipment updated, but the government has been reluctant to provide
needed funds. What should Susan do?
Green is in a good position to establish a regional cooperative preservation
center, the heart of which would be a modern microfilming operation. A good
strategy would be to conduct market research among libraries nationally and
overseas, to prove the need for such an undertaking. Regional libraries would
be invited to have their local newspapers filmed centrally at the Metropolitan
Library along with city newspapers.
Green would develop a proposal that would articulate the size of the new microfilming
operation, the type and cost of equipment, and the size and composition of
staff. Some thought would be given to the purchase of hybrid microfilm/scanning
cameras so that newspapers could be accessed remotely. The proposal would be
bolstered by endorsements from scholars as well as regional, national, and
foreign libraries. An important part of the proposal would be providing assurance
that, once established with modern equipment, the operation would be self-sustaining
through cost-recovery sales of microfilm.
The Hangon Institute Library
The Hangon is a research institute dedicated to the study of traditional manuscripts.
During the colonial period, the institute was a philological society made up
of foreigners, and the present-day library is the result of the active collecting
of the society's scholars during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It is regarded
as the most important manuscript collection in the country. When the colonial
period came to an end, the philological society's members withdrew to their
native land, but to this day the society maintains a continuing relationship
with the Hangon Institute, which provides access to its collections for visiting
scholars from overseas.
The government has begun final planning for a new building for the Hangon Institute,
and the library director has indicated that space should be set aside for
a conservation facility. The government has agreed to provide the space but
refused to support the high cost of conservation equipment and furniture.
The building is slated for occupation in two years. What strategy can the
library director use to secure funding for the conservation effort?
The Hangon Institute has an opportunity to organize a funding campaign for
the conservation facility during its planning and construction. The institute
can amply demonstrate that the new building represents a substantial effort
on the part of the government to preserve unique research collections. Possibly
with the active support of the overseas philological society, a campaign
could be launched that would seek private and institutional donations, as
well as contributions from funding agencies.
The target amount should be clearly and reasonably demonstrated based on size,
projected equipment, and utility costs. Appeals could include requests for
funding of specific pieces of expensive equipment.