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Syracuse University Libraries

Preservation: Welcome!

Preservation information from the Syracuse University Libraries' Preservation Department. Book repair techniques, general information on preservation practices, and other resources.

Why this LibGuide?

The purpose of this guide is to provide general information about preservation to the SU community,  including iSchool students, library employees, and the general public.   We are pleased to be able to share some of the resources we have developed, and point people to other resources that they may find useful.

Table of Contents (see tabs at the top of the page)

Welcome (this page) - information about the Syracuse University Preservation Department, what preservation is (and is not), and services offered.

In the lab: terms, tools, materials - some basic glossary terms, tools and materials used, information on SU preservation lab practices, and typical repair tasks

Preservation Research - resources for additional information on preservation in cultural institutions

Instructional Resources - book repair guides and tips on preservation activities

Preservation on the Web - blogs, organizations, and other useful information

Disaster Management - Disaster plan, planning resources, disaster response

Preservation Videos

Our YouTube channel offers a variety of informative videos on preservation techniques, book arts, lectures on book conservation, and even a silent movie on mold!

Below is a lighthearted video starring students and staff on caring for books.  Enjoy!

Preservation blog entries

The Syracuse University Libraries' blog contains entries from all over the library. Entries from the Preservation Department:

August 2021  Between the Pages: The Secret Lives of Library Patrons

May 2021      Behind the Spine 

Preservation or Conservation?

What is preservation?  And, what is the difference between preservation and conservation?  We do both activities here at Syracuse University Libraries. There is a Preservation Lab on the lower level of Bird Library, and a Rare Book and Paper Conservation Laboratory on the 6th floor of Bird Library. A specialized lab, the Belfer Audio Laboratory and Archive, handles multiple audio formats.

The Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC), a nationally recognized resource in these subject areas, explains on their website:  "Since the 1980s, the library and archival communities have used "preservation" as an umbrella term for activities that reduce or prevent damage to extend the life expectancy of collections, while "conservation" refers more specifically to the physical treatment of individual damaged items. "

The Syracuse University Libraries' Preservation Department is concerned primarily with items from our circulating (general) collections.  These books, maps, and other resources are usually directly accessible to patrons in the open stacks and might receive high usage or rough handling. These books and other items are certainly valuable as a resource for researchers, but are not unique or precious objects.  Typically, many copies of these items are owned by other libraries.  When needed, simple and quick repairs are done in the Preservation Lab. We tend to use glue, not wheat paste or other reversible options, because we are not concerned with reversibility.  We are also more concerned with the strength of the repair than with exactly matching colors and materials. Other responsibilities of the Preservation Department include monitoring the temperature and humidity in the library stacks and contributing to disaster planning.

* Links in the section below go to "Preservation Leaflets" prepared by the NEDCC.  

Preservation activities include:

Environmental monitoring

Proper shelving and archival quality housing materials

Protection from light and moisture damage

Training on proper care and handling

Disaster planning / emergency preparedness for collections

On the other hand, Syracuse University Libraries' Conservation Department Lab treats items from our Special Collections Research Center.  These rare and valuable resources have unique storage and usage requirements.  Conservation work requires extensive training and is typically done by professional conservators on items that have considerable historical significance.  These treatments can be time consuming and quite detailed, and include documentation and processes that are much more involved and technically difficult than those done in the Preservation Lab.

  * Links in the section below go to "Preservation Leaflets" prepared by the NEDCC.  

Conservation activities include:

Surface cleaning, mending tears, flattening

Removal of damaging fasteners

Washing to reduce acidity (if possible, and only after careful testing.)

Alkalizing to protect from future formation of acidity (if deemed necessary.)

Binding repair, rebinding, or post-binding

About the Preservation Department at Syracuse University Libraries

The Preservation Department serves Syracuse University by ensuring the long-term preservation and access of library collections in all media and formats. Core functions of Preservation include preparation of materials for circulation; repair of circulating materials; preparation of materials for off-site storage; arranging for commercial binding, and disaster preparedness. Facilities include the Preservation Lab, located on the Lower Level of Bird Library, where circulating collections repairs take place, including paperback stiffening, pamphlet binding, encapsulation, and rebacking of hard covers. Every year, we repair more than 2,000 volumes and return them into the circulating collections for use. We go through more than 20 gallons of glue a year! In addition, the Department provides workshops and other outreach activities to organizations in the region.  Preservation is a part of the Access & Resource Sharing Department.

Preservation Department People

  Marianne Swanberry Hanley  

  Preservation Librarian


    Marianne and friend!




Every semester, the Preservation Department staff includes 7 or 8 dedicated undergraduate and graduate students, without whom the preservation lab would not function.  The student employees work on book repairs, encapsulating maps, mending architectural drawings to prepare them for digitization, pamphlet binding, and special projects as assigned.

Preservation Department student workers have been recognized with library-wide awards, most recently including the prestigious Patricia Kutner Strait Student Scholarship, won by Maya Gelsi ’21 (Newhouse), Yasmeen Jones '21 (Graduate School), Oliver Mack, Jr. '21 (Whitman) and Lucy Wagner '21 (College of Arts and Sciences).   The SU Libraries Student Scholarship was won by Kim Hoffman '20 (Graduate School).  


The Preservation Department offers presentations and workshops on basic book repair and other topics on request.  CLRC, the Central New York Library Resources Council, occasionally schedules workshops with Syracuse University Libraries' Preservation Department. Contact us for additional information.

Thesis or Dissertation Binding

Information for degree candidates:

First, please see "Preparing Your Thesis/Dissertation" as well as the "Format Guidelines" at the Syracuse University Graduate School: What You Need to Graduate web page. These guidelines were established in response to frequent queries and give detailed information about the format of dissertations and Masters theses.

Anyone who needs a bound copy of a dissertation or thesis can arrange to do so at the following websites:

Thesis on Demand/HF Group

ProQuest Dissertation Publishing

The process is quite easy - fill out a form, attach a print ready PDF version of the thesis or dissertation, select options, and enter payment information. The bound copy will be sent to you at the address you specify.