Preservation Division Awarded Two Grants to Preserve Endangered Research Materials

NEW YORK, February 3, 2005 - The New York State Program for the Conservation and Preservation of Library Research Materials has awarded Columbia’s Preservation Division funding for two separate projects to preserve endangered materials. Yellowed paper that breaks as readers turn pages is a serious problem for libraries, and each year the New York State Grant Program supports libraries and other organizations engaged in efforts to preserve deteriorating research materials.

Through the program Columbia will receive $150,052 for a two-year cooperative project to microfilm approximately 2,014 brittle East Asian serial volumes. Materials will be drawn from collections at Columbia University, the State University of New York at Buffalo, and other libraries in New York State.

Columbia will also receive $65,017 for a one-year cooperative project to photocopy brittle reference materials. This is the third phase of a project that began in 2002. Columbia will manage the project and will contribute approximately 55 volumes amounting to over 36,000 pages. Cornell University and the State University of New York at Albany will contribute an additional 115 volumes. Included in the materials to be photocopied are encyclopedias and other reference tools that have deteriorated physically, and must be preserved in paper form because they are not available online.

"The New York State Grant Program has been immensely valuable in saving the cultural and intellectual heritage of the citizens of New York since it was established in 1984,” noted Janet Gertz, Director of Preservation at Columbia University Libraries. “These projects will enable Columbia to address the problem of paper embrittlement, preventing it through de-acidification, and creating new copies of already deteriorated volumes. Thanks to the generosity of New York State, these volumes will be preserved not only for Columbia, but for anyone, anywhere, who needs them."

In addition to these projects, Columbia will be participating in a New York State project managed by the New York Public Library. This third project will fund deacidification of 1,700 acidic-paper Urdu volumes from Columbia's collection in each of the next two years. The books should last for hundreds of years once they have been treated chemically to neutralize the acids that cause their paper to become brittle.

Organized in 1974, Columbia's Preservation Division is one of the five oldest library preservation programs in the United States. The division has primary responsibility for maintaining the Libraries' collections through proper care, housing, and disaster prevention. The division provides treatment of items to ensure their continued availability for use, and copying to new formats when use is no longer possible due to damage or severe deterioration. Materials in all formats and genres are cared for by the division, including digital resources created by the Libraries.

Columbia University Libraries is one of the top ten academic library systems in the nation, with 9.2 million volumes, over 65,650 serials, as well as extensive collections of electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, and other nonprint formats. The collections and services are organized into 25 libraries, supporting specific academic or professional disciplines. Columbia Libraries employs more than 400 professional and support staff to assist faculty, students, and researchers in their academic endeavors. The Libraries’ website at is a gateway to its print and electronic collections and to its services.