Preservation Planning and Management


Planning for your preservation program is complex, but there are many resources as well as professional consultants to guide you. There are also organizational models that may be relevant to your program; we encourage you to contact your colleagues in the field with active preservation programs. Whether you decide to develop your management plan within your organization or to contract with outside professionals, here are some issues to consider.

If you decide to contract for professional consultation for all or parts of your project, be sure you understand what specific services will be provided. The "Resources" section contains a representative a sampling of available consultants; the list is not exhaustive.

You may also wish to consider professional training for yourself or other members of your organization. There are formal educational programs as well as training activities offered by the professional preservation and conservation organizations. See "Learning More About Electronic Media Preservation" for these resources.

Project Planning and Management

Preservation project planning and development refers to the design and development of a comprehensive and on-going preservation program consistent with your organization's overall goals, activities, resources and structure. It may include such specific tasks as developing a work plan, budget, procedures, manuals, and a disaster and recovery plan.

Once your program is designed you must decide how and who will be responsible for managing it. Specific tasks here may include on-going guidance, management and implementation of the project.

If you have a special interest in library media collections, see Developing and Maintaining Video Collections in Libraries,  by James C. Scholtz. Santa Barbara, CA: CLIO, 1989.

Collection Assessment and Surveys

An assessment of your collection is generally the first step. The survey will inform you about the materials you have, how they are presently stored and make recommendations about the types of actions you can take. It will help you set priorities for your program.

Collection Management

Collection management refers to the way your collection is organized and how you take care of it. Consultants in this area may look at the system you use for describing your collection, how you keep track of it, how it is stored, whether it is used and if so how is the work accessed, and what procedures you have in place for preservation.

See "Storage"  for information about this critically important aspect of preservation. An environmental survey will provide you with detailed technical specifics of the physical environment in which your materials are stored, including temperature and humidity fluctuations, air quality, whether there are impurities and pollutants in the air which could damage your tapes, and what types of shelving you are currently using. Recommendations are based on the results of environmental monitoring of your storage facility.

Storage facilities consultation can help you decide about on-site or off-site storage, and with issues of design, construction and development of a management plan for a storage facility.

See "Cataloging" for a discussion of the system of arranging and describing the collection. Your present system should be evaluated and analyzed in terms of such issues as compatible cataloging, which will allow you to share information with other organizations.

To initiate and maintain your preservation program you will need to develop a long-term plan that identifies the resources you can commit to the project. If you decide to contract with outside professional consultants in this area, grant consultation services can provide assistance in identifying funding sources for preservation, in developing a project, and developing or reviewing funding proposals.


You may want or need to have your collection appraised; this is done by a professional who will provide you with a statement about the value and use of your collection.


The following consultants were listed in the Magnetic Media Preservation Sourcebook  available from Media Alliance. Listing here is provided as a service, is not a comprehensive survey of available consultants, and does not constitute an endorsement by Media Alliance or the Experimental Television Center.

Developing and Maintaining Video Collections in Libraries,  James C. Scholtz. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 1989.

Boston Art Conservation
Boston Art Conservation is a partnership between a small group of professional conservators which provides conservation services for public and private clients throughout the United States. Consulting Services: Video preservation project planning and development; preservation project management; collection assessment/surveys. The Boston Art Conservation web site includes abstracts and articles by conservators, and an extensive set of links to art conservation sites including such topics as digital video, preservation of digital media and video preservation.

Adrian Cosentini
Consulting Services: Audio collection assessment/surveys; collection management; preservation project planning and development; grant development/consultation.

Alan F Lewis
Consulting Services: Audio/video - collection assessment/surveys; preservation project planning and development - including proposal review; preservation training.

Behavioral Images, Inc.
Consulting Services: Appraisal - independent appraisal of all audiovisual recorded media, including video, audio, and motion pictures and related equipment.

Heritage Resource Management Associates
Consulting Services: Appraisal of audio, video and motion pictures; collection assessment/surveys; preservation project planning and development - including procedures/manuals, and disaster planning and recovery; preservation training; storage facilities planning and management. Also has acid deterioration detection and monitoring systems for acetate-based materials and nitrate-based materials.

Hollywood Vaults
Consulting Services: Video/audio - storage facilities consultation - including facilities design and construction management.

Image Permanence Institute
The Image Permanence Institute is a research laboratory at the Rochester Institute of Technology focused on the preservation of imaging and recording materials. They provide consulting services and technical resources which include evaluation of storage environments, study of the effect of temperature and humidity on recording media, determination of the influence of atmospheric pollutants on materials, and measurement of rates of temperature and humidity equilibration. The Institute publishes papers concerning laboratory studies on material behavior, including recommendations to collection managers.

Jim Hubbard
Consulting Services: Video and Film - cataloging; collection assessment/surveys; collection management

Museum Resource Consultants
Consulting Services: Audio/video - collection assessment/surveys; collection management; environmental surveys; preservation training.

Smolian Sound Preservation
Consulting Services: Audio - appraisal; preservation project planning and development - including disaster recovery.

Specs Brothers
Consulting Services: Audio/video - collection assessment; environmental surveys; disaster planning and recovery. Web site offers general info, FAQs, and tips on magnetic tape preservation, restoration, and disaster planning and recovery.

VidiPax, Inc
Consulting Services: Audio/video - collection assessment; collection management; cataloging. The web site includes articles and a video preservation links section. Links range from associations, organizations and professional groups to technical resources.