Collection Care

The National Library of Wales is responsible for maintaining access to the collections, for everyone, forever. NLW has vast range of collections, held on a variety of formats, which includes over 5 million books and periodicals, 40,000 volumes of manuscripts, 4 million archival documents, 1 million photographs, over a million maps, 60,000 pictures, 4,000 framed works of art, electronic material and sound and moving images.  Since the NLW’s foundation, the need to preserve and conserve its collections has been acknowledged as a fundamental, or core function.  A conservation and bindery section was established in 1912 and has, since its establishment, enabled continuing access to collections.  It has done this through conservation treatment activities, which include the repair of damaged items and the strengthening of fragile items, as well as preventative conservation programs.  Preventative conservation, or preservation, activities ensure that the condition of items does not deteriorate, however long they are kept, by ensuring that items are stored in environmental conditions appropriate to their format, boxed, stored and handled correctly.  The Library has also undertaken an extensive scanning program, which has produced surrogate copies of many of its holdings, which reduces  the need to handle original material.

More and more content is being generated, stored and accessed in digital format. Digital materials, whether created in digital format, or converted to digital form, are at risk from technological obsolescence, deterioration and damage.  Digital preservation is a series of activities which is undertaken to ensure that digital materials can be accessed in the current and the future. These may include updating storage media, migrating the file format, checking file integrity and documenting content.

The Library’s Policy for Preservation and Collection Care, provides the framework for the care of the collections in all formats.  The principles of collection care apply to all the NLW’s collections, regardless of format type. These principles include the management of the life-cycle, sustainable access, storage management, adequate resourcing, collaboration and skills and training.  The Library has produced guidelines for promoting good practice in using and handling of analogue collections, which is relevant for anyone who wishes to preserve the lifetime of items which they wish to preserve.

Jake Henry, the Digital Preservation Project Manager for the Archives and Records Council Wales, has undertaken a survey of digital preservation needs, which is available under related documents.