University of Hawaii at Manoa Library


Preservation Department
Hamilton Library
University of Hawai´i
2550 McCarthy Mall
Honolulu, Hawai´i 96822
Phone:(808) 956-6623

Preservation Department

Core Functions


The Preservation Department serves the entire library and its patrons. As an essential component in an academic setting, the department staff stabilize circulating and special collections for as long as they are needed.

Core Functions

Identification of damaged library materials may occur during acquisition, cataloging, processing and circulating library materials. All library staff who handle collections should be able to identify damage and send these materials to Preservation for assessment. The department is a library resource supporting best practices in collections preservation including: varied collections management issues, handling, storage, exhibition, digitization, and item level treatment.

Preservation Department Core Sections

Commercial Bindery for Monographs

The Bindery prepares materials for binding and rebinding through a commercial bindery, providing a cost-effective solution to extending the usable life of library collections. The relationship between the library and the commercial bindery vendor is critical to ensuring specific preservation practices. The commercial bindery must comply with Library Binding Institute Standard for Library Binding. Preservation requirements are detailed in a written contract, and shipments are routinely monitored for quality control.

Preservation personnel in the bindery section are responsible for selecting the appropriate commercial binding style for each item. Mainly books from the Circulating Collections are sent to the commercial bindery. The bindery also prepares theses and dissertations for library binding. Books with brittle paper, and bound items from Special Collections are sent to the Book Lab for assessment and stabilization, in consultation with librarians.

Book Conservation Lab

conservation conservation

The Book Lab staff, including skilled student assistants, work primarily with bound circulating collections, performing a broad range of treatments. New students start with simple tip-ins, hinge-tightening, dry cleaning, repairing tears, constructing pamphlet covers and mixing pastes and poultices. Advanced students rebind books that are not suitable for the commercial bindery, using archival supplies and approved preservation binding techniques for durable, long lasting results. Students are taught the tenets of professional practices promoted by the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC).

Materials from special collections are assessed by the permanent staff in consultation with librarians. The extent of a treatment is discussed and decisions are made that consider stabilization options, cost, and expected use. Materials that can’t be treated at the time are placed in custom-constructed protective enclosures and kept in a secure, environmentally stable environment, with on-site access to patrons.

Paper Conservation Lab

paper conservation
The Paper Lab provides stabilization and treatment of unbound materials in the library’s Special Collections. Using state of the art equipment, staff, visiting conservators and student assistants treat architectural renderings, original works of art on paper, prints, maps, posters, photographs and manuscripts. Each item undergoes an examination to determine details of its structure and condition, resulting in a written treatment proposal that is reviewed with the librarian in charge of the item. Once a treatment option is approved, photographic documentation records before, in-process and after treatment images for the permanent record.

The Paper Lab was developed when the Manoa Stream Flood ravaged Hamilton Library collections in 2004. Muddy, damaged collections were treated over a ten year recovery period. The Paper Lab adheres to the Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC).

Digital Lab/ Preservation Microfilming

Facsimiles of Library materials are produced in microfilm or digital surrogate following preservation standards. Some materials are too fragile to be preserved, such as brittle books and newspapers and must be reformatted to save their content. Items awaiting digitization are first evaluated by Preservation staff to determine their physical stability and to perform necessary repairs and cleaning to ensure a high quality image. Fragile materials including rare books, maps and art may be reproduced to provide copies for publication or research requests. Before and after conservation treatment documentation of special collections is captured with digital photography and becomes part of each object’s permanent record.

The library prioritizes Hawaiian and Pacific newspapers for preservation microfilming, with a use copy retained onsite. Microfilm master reels produced by the Preservation Department are stored in an offsite vault under controlled environmental conditions. Microfilm stored under those conditions are projected to last over 500 years.

Environmental Monitoring/ Pest Management

pest management
Prevention is the most cost effective investment to care for Library resources in a tropical environment. Environmental monitoring and integrated pest management fall under the broad scope of preservation management or preventive conservation. Pests, mold, air-conditioning problems, leaks and other issues all threaten collections.

As part of our Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, the Preservation Department treats incoming gifts to the library by freeze extermination. (Library staff: please use the Pest Extermination Freezer Information (PEFI) form and follow the Guidelines for Freeze Extermination).

Disaster Planning

All Preservation Department staff have an on-going role in maintaining a current Collection Disaster Response Plan to ensure responsible stewardship of the Library’s resources. The Collections Emergency Response Team is led by the Preservation Department, with team members from Special Collections, Audiovisual, and Information Technology departments. The team updates plans and conducts annual training in the form of tabletop exercises and hands-on drills. See a copy of our current plan here: Disaster Planning page.

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