There is considerable incentive for the preservation professional to do an analysis and look for possible cost savings resulting from an analysis of preservation. Whether a library has a formally recognized preservation program or not, some money is always spent on such things as commercial binding contracts (usually managed in technical services); processing new, unbound books; repairing damaged books (usually managed through a contractor); and purchasing reprint and microfilm publications for books that have badly deteriorated (usually managed by a collection development or acquisitions unit). Analyzing and centralizing these functions usually results in cost savings that can be redirected towards the establishment or development of a preservation program.
Analyzing patterns of useThe management of commercial binding funds by serials processing units is usually based entirely upon precedent. Most technical service units are concerned with process but less concerned with patterns of use. A prudent preservation professional must analyze patterns of use and design binding systems accordingly. Periodicals that are infrequently used after being bound should be bound in a simple but sound fashion, which is generally much less expensive than more elaborate bindings designed for short-term durability.
To bind or not to bind?More and more, newly acquired books are unbound. In many cases the library expends commercial binding funds to make them safe for use. However, there is no evidence that binding these materials is a sound investment, because no one knows whether these books will ever be used. Devising a simple in-house strengthening operation can result in speedier processing and cost savings.
The commercial rebinding of damaged books is often approached uncritically by staff whose main responsibilities are only tenuously connected to preservation. Selection for repair or rebinding should be made on the basis of recent documented use and not merely on a book's condition. A competent book repair technician can usually repair a book in roughly the same amount of time that a binding transaction can be conducted.
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