George Mason University Libraries Preservation Policy

The mission of the preservation program is to promote and assure long-term access to the intellectual content of the Libraries’ collections. In addition to their intellectual and research value, these collections represent a major capital outlay, and the Libraries are committed to providing a comprehensive preservation program for these holdings consistent with the goals and objectives of the Libraries and the university. 

Preservation activities are designed to prolong the usable life of materials and to prevent the loss of informational content.  The success of the preservation program depends on library staff understanding and promoting good preservation practices.  Such practices will be integrated into procedures for handling materials at all stages, including acquisitions, cataloging, shelf preparation, shelving, retrieval and use.

No library has sufficient resources to treat everything in need of repair.  George Mason Libraries will prioritize materials that are used, such as materials passing through Circulation, Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery, Reserves, or Reference.  Items that appear to be damaged will be flagged by staff in these departments and reviewed by Preservation staff, who will decide, according to accepted guidelines, whether they should be sent to the bindery, repaired in-house, replaced, or deselected.  Treatment decisions will be informed by the time needed to repair the item, the expertise available in-house, and the cost of outsourcing the repair.  Subject librarians will provide input into decisions related to retention, replacement, or withdrawal according to the Libraries’ Collection Development Policy. 

Preservation photocopying may be considered for items that are costly or impossible to replace, and will be done in consultation with the appropriate subject librarian. 

Treatment decisions for audiovisual materials will be made by the Media Services Librarian.

Ancillary media should be the domain of the subject librarian responsible for the appropriate subject area.

Treatment decisions for materials in Special Collections & Archives will be made by that department’s staff.

This policy does not address digital preservation, which is the responsibility of the Digital Programs & Systems department.