The New York Public Library has one of the oldest, largest, and most comprehensive institutional preservation programs in the United States, with activities dating back to the 1911 opening of the landmark Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. The Barbara Goldsmith Preservation Division cares for the Library’s permanent assets in all formats housed in more than ninety buildings in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, as well as a high-density storage facility in New Jersey. The Division preserves both the artifacts that comprise the Library’s vast and diverse collections as well as their intellectual content. The work done by Preservation Division staff significantly contributes to the long-term survival of the Library’s renowned collections held in trust for public access and use.
Preservation can be compared to a health care system because it involves preventative, diagnostic, clinical, and critical care services. The Library’s “health care system” includes seven program areas: Collections Care, Conservation Treatment, Field Services, Preservation Reformatting, Audio Preservation, Moving Image Preservation, and the Registrar’s Office for collections, exhibitions, and loans. Commercial library binding is a shared Library responsibility, as is digital preservation development. These programs offer a breadth of services that include: environmental monitoring,emergency preparedness and response, collection assessment, integrated pest management, staff and user education, mass deacidification, physical and chemical treatment, repair, stabilization, protective housing, binding, conversion of microfilm to digital images, conservation and digitization of audio and moving image collections, exhibition preparation, collection insurance and loan, as well as movement of special collections from their homes to wherever needed.
In addition to providing ongoing services to the divisions, Preservation works closely Capital Planning, Facilities, and Security departments on matters related to existing structures, renovation projects, and new construction, to ensure that buildings provide environmental and security conditions that contribute to collection longevity and safekeeping. The Division also leads and participates in inter-organizational research partnerships relating to the ongoing preservation and security of cultural and intellectual heritage.
The Preservation Division sponsors and provides public activities annually during the springtime Preservation Week series, as well as throughout the year.
Preservation Division staff participates in the following professional organizations: