Preservation policy

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Policy Statement

The Libraries Act 1988 assigns to State Library of Queensland the responsibility to control, maintain and manage the State Library, to enhance, arrange and preserve the library, archival and other resources held by it and to exercise administrative control over access to the resources.

This Preservation Policy aligns directly to the Libraries Act 1988 and the Content Strategy , which provides a framework for the selection of collections at State Library. The Content Strategy articulates the intent for our collections and how the organisation assigns value and significance to content, taking into account all stages of the collection lifecycle, from selection to engagement. This strategy ensures that State Library’s content activities align with the guiding principles of the Libraries Act 1988, support the Strategic Plan Towards 2020 and continue to meet the needs of users in a changing social and technological environment.

State Library is responsible for the preservation and protection of its holdings of collections including Memory Collections, Extraordinary Collections, Information Collections and Public Library Collections.

Preservation and protection of the physical and digital collections held by State Library or under our care is achieved by the provision of universal best practice and recognised national and international preservation standards, principles, and guidelines. This includes the implementation of preventive and remedial conservation programs along with reformatting options to ensure enduring access to content on deteriorating mediums and obsolete carriers.


The Preservation Policy outlines a broad range of measures along with the intent of ensuring the preservation of its collections, commensurate with the term of their useful life.

It assigns the responsibilities for the preservation of the physical and digital collections with a major focus on State Library’s legislative obligations while aligning to the vision of the Content Strategy.


The Preservation Policy provides a framework for the preservation and protection of the collections. It will give a primary focus to physical collections in an array of formats and will interact with, and be separate from, State Library’s Digital Preservation Policy which details the aim of the organisation in ensuring preservation of access to digitised and born digital collections. It also gives coverage of the responsibilities for collections that are on loan to State Library from other institutions and individuals.

The policy is intended to provide staff who are responsible for managing and planning for the holistic preservation of collections with a clear basis of how this will be achieved. It will also give potential donors of Memory Collections an overview of the preservation activities and how long-term preservation is achieved within our organisation.

The policy will apply to all staff who carry out or have a stake in the lifecycle of collections including work carried out by volunteers and service providers who manage systems and services for environmental controls in repositories and galleries.

Out of scope

  • Regional Libraries Queensland and Indigenous Knowledge Centres Collections
  • Digital Collections.


AICCM Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material – Professional body for conservators in Australia
Born Digital Digital material that was created and exists only in a digital format, for which there has never been and is never intended to be an analogue equivalent.
Conservation Treatment Conservation treatments are carried out to maximise the longevity of collections commensurate with their useful life. In the instance of Memory Collections this is as long as possible. Treatments will provide stabilisation or remedial repair when collection material is at risk or damaged and applied in accordance with professional standards.
Counter Disaster Planning A preparedness plan for disaster situations impacting on the collection which sets out the activation for resources applied to prevention, preparedness, response, salvage & recovery, and post recovery
Custom Built Archival Enclosures Fit for purpose enclosures constructed from archival /acid free materials to protect significant collections
Environmental specifications and control The provision of Humidity, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) to ensure stable and sound levels of temperature and relative humidity, air quality, along with control of light levels for Memory Collections
Integrated Pest Management Provision of effective management and controls to address the risk of pest outbreak and damage to collections
Memory Collections A wide range of content both contemporary and retrospective is collected to reflect events, people, places, and ideas that continue to shape Queensland. These collections are a resource for current and future generations wishing to understand Queensland
Pre-fab Archival Enclosures Pre-fabricated and cost effective mass produced protective enclosures produced by commercial suppliers
Preservation All physical and environmental actions taken to care for and protect collections
Preventive Preservation Preventive care is defined as “actions taken to minimise or slow the rate of deterioration and to prevent damage to collections; includes activities such as risk assessment, development and implementation of guidelines for continuing use and care, appropriate environmental conditions for storage and exhibition, and proper procedures for handling, packing, transport, and use”.
Reformatting Analogue or digital capture to copy collections at risk of loss or inaccessible to a new format and/or to increase accessibility via the digital format.
Turned Digital A digital copy of an analogue object
Useful Life The term of the useful life of a library collection. This will differ between Memory Collections and Information/Reference collections

Preservation philosophy, standards and ethics

The development of preservation programs will be consistent with applicable legislation from the Libraries Act 1988, in conjunction with the Strategic Plan, and the Content Strategy.

This policy sets out the high-level principles for the care and preservation of State Library’s collections:

  • Preservation of State Library’s collections is a core function of the library, and the responsibility of all staff including volunteers, and external contractors employed by State Library
  • The State Library aims to reach a balance between preservation and access while applying ongoing preservation programs, standards, and criteria.
  • The primary criteria which will inform prioritisation for preserving and conserving the Memory and Extraordinary Collections will be the elements of:
    • Overall significance when assessed against the whole collection
    • Uniqueness, monetary, or intrinsic value
    • Expected usage
    • Level of client demand to make accessible
    • Condition of the collection item/s
    • Fragility and risk of loss if prompt action is not carried out
  • The Preservation Policy will underpin the Content Strategy.

The conservation of the John Oxley Library’s Memory Collections will be the major emphasis of the collection preservation program. Our conservation schedule will adhere to the AICCM Code of Ethics and Code of Practice in its conservation activities through preventive preservation and intervention treatments of collections. Treatment to collection items will be carried out coinciding with their physical or chemical condition.

State Library’s Risk Management Strategy which is aligned to Australian Standards will also be applied when assessing and implementing passive controls and intervention to stabilise collections.

  • As outlined in the Content Strategy, our collections are assessed according to three broad criteria: Content, Usage, and Viability.
    • Content - An assessment of content looks at beneficial or important qualities of an item or collection
    • Usage - Factors contribute to determining the extent of an item’s benefit to users
    • Viability – Issues that may impact State Library’s ability to make that item accessible

Access and Use

An outline of State Library’s commitment to broad access to collections is detailed in the Strategic Plan and the Content Strategy.

This commitment to access and use of content acknowledges an increase in the risk of damage to collections. The risks are mitigated by a range of proactive and reactive preservation programs.

Use: Damage caused by use will be mitigated by:

  • Regular collection care and handling training provided to all staff who handle collections as part of their role
  • Provision of a range of supports required to negate stressing of Memory Collection items when made available for use by clients or for exhibitions, special presentations/display
  • Desk staff oversee and provide handling instruction to clients when fragile Memory Collections and Extraordinary Collections are issued
  • The preferred option for clients copying of collection material is by use of a digital camera without flash
  • Display supports are available at the Memory Collection Information  desk to assist clients when copying bound collections
  • Handling and packing instructions are provided for complex collections housed in custom built archival enclosures
  • Items on loan to other institutions require  compliance to loan agreement arrangements for intended use and access or as authorised by the owner


Measures to ensure the security of the collection will be applied in accordance with State Library’s Security protocols in conjunction with detailed mitigations to manage risk as outlined in the Risk Register.

Examples of security processes/procedures include physical presenceof Protective Services and staff, swipe card restrictions in key locations throughout the facility, and electronic monitoring of collection and gallery spaces utilising CCTV.

Items on loan from other institutions or private lenders are the responsibility of State Library for the entire period that they are in our care. From the time they are received from the lender, to the time they are returned. All movements of loans are monitored.

Surrogacy and reformatting

State Library carries out the reformatting of its collections with the primary purpose of enhancing access for clients. There are various reformatting options that enable surrogate creation. This includes

  • Digitisation
  • Micrographics
  • Migration of analogue and digital content
  • Physical reproductions

Where collections are damaged or fragile, and cannot be issued due to their condition, and where there is an enduring requirement for retention of the content from the original item, they will be considered for the creation of a digital or physical surrogate as an access copy. Where a surrogate has been produced, this will be the preferred access version for users. This provision will in itself minimise the risk of damage caused by future handling and thereby the long term preservation of the original which is often of artefactual value and a significant part of telling the story of the item’s history.

All surrogate creation will be carried out in accordance with existing guidelines which had been developed by benchmarking, assessment, and tailored to meet appropriate access requirements while meeting long term preservation needs.

Where a damaged or fragile item is requested for special presentation or exhibition, this will be assessed by conservators to establish whether the item can be sufficiently stabilised. Where an item cannot be sufficiently stabilised for exhibition and it is essential to support the context of the display, a surrogate may be produced.

Conservators will review items before reformatting is undertaken to ensure best capture without damage to the physical item.

Selective preservation of newspapers is undertaken by creating a microfilm version of retrospective Queensland titles.  This is limited to black and white historic newspapers that are a priority for preservation and future digitisation. Where pages are damaged and fragile and have become fragmented, limitations are set by senior staff for the amount of time applied to each page repair.

Preservation of content on obsolete carriers will be assessed for reformatting based on unique content and viability of carrier and successful migration.

Where a surrogate is required for the purpose of production of a replica, the reformatting by photography, scanning, or photocopying will be utilised.

Where surrogates of collections are produced, and the carrier is not original or of integral value to the content, consideration will be made as to whether the original carrier needs to be permanently retained (see Point 20 – Disposal). This consideration would apply to:

  • Second generation audio-visual carriers including tapes and video
  • Original audio and video tapes which are badly damaged either physically or chemically and there is no potential for salvage
  • Photographic collections which are badly damaged either physically or chemically and there is no potential for salvage
  • Highly fragmented collections which are badly damaged either physically or chemically and there is no potential for salvage

Exhibition and loan

State Librarypromotes the use of its collectionsand will make available John Oxley Library collections for internal and external exhibitions/loans in accordance with conditions set out in the Exhibitions Policy and the Lending Policy-Loans for Exhibition.

Display furniture and lighting systems suitable for exhibition of heritage collections will be provided for onsite exhibitions to ensure appropriate security and stability for collections and loans.

All internal exhibition spaces will be regularly monitored to ensure environmental stability and security during the display period including items on loan as per contractual requirements.

Confirmation of the outgoing loan to another institution will be subject to condition reporting and conservation assessment of the item and the capacity of the lender to provide for specified environmental and security controls as per the Lending Policy.

Incoming loans are covered by specialist fine art insurance covering the time from which it is collected, in transit, while on display, and in transit for return referred as “wall to wall” all risk policy. Outgoing loans insurance is addressed in the Lending Policy – Loans for exhibition.

All loans from other institutions, private lenders, and State Library collection items will be provided with the appropriate handling practices and display supports to ensure their physical stability during display.

The Registrar will coordinate all incoming loans including loan documentation, transportation, insurance inventory, tracking of items, security, and ensuring appropriate handling and environmental conditions are met as per contractual arrangements.


A key strategy for the long term preservation of library collections is how the collections are stored. The open access and closed repositories along with dedicated cold stores will be allocated on the basis of the format and media type and the term of their useful life. The level of protection and stability will differ with Information Collections being provided intermediate care and conditions, whilst Memory and Extraordinary Collections are provided with critical controls.

This will include application of:

  • Efficient repository design
  • A tidy collection arrangement providing effective access
  • Appropriate storage furniture to accommodate a range of collection types and dimensions
  • Protection of collections by application of archival enclosures as required
  • Enclosures maximise a buffering effect
  • Specified temperature  and relative humidity control
  • A cleaning regime for repositories
  • Management of repositories aligned to collection care training
  • Effective numbering and coding of collections for ease of retrieval and return
  • An active integrated pest management program
  • Staff training in effective manual handling practices


The environment for the storage, display, and usage of collection materials are informed by and adopt best practice international and national standards which directly relate to application of controls and specifications for preservation storage of library materials.

The environmental controls are commensurate with the significance of the collection, the media type, and specific requirements for their long term preservation. Ongoing research will be carried out to continue to evaluate environmental control and its sustainability by tailoring identified needs of collection types in conjunction with ambient conditions of sub-tropical Queensland.

Comprehensive monitoring of the delivery of specified environmental controls will be provided by Building Management Systems, portable data-logging (digital) and thermo-hygrograph (analogue) devices. Alarm response will be carried out by Facility Management Contractors.

Integrated pest management

The collections will be protected fromthe risk of damage incurred by pests with the ongoing provision of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. This provides for the effective management and controls to address the risk of pest outbreak and damage of assets held within State Library buildings.

State Library applies five elements in its prevention and response in the Integrated Pest Management Program.  This includes:

  • Monitoring (Prevention)
    Placement of 200 pest traps and ongoing inspection to report to pest contractors
  • Quarantine (Prevention and Response)
    Operation of a dedicated quarantine facility to inspect, clean, and treat collections displaying signs of pest activity, mould, or other contaminates
  • Food and Beverage Consumption Guidelines (Prevention)
    Documented plan restricting consumption in at risk/sensitive areas
  • Housekeeping, Cleaning and Signage (Prevention)
  • Response to Outbreak (Preparedness/Reactive)
    Activate a response to pest/mould outbreak in accordance with the Disaster Plan

Counter Disaster Planning

The Collections Counter Disaster Plan is directly aligned to and sits below the Business Continuity Plan. It has been developed to ensure that any given disaster scenario impacting on or potentially impacting on the collections could be anticipated and/or prepared for through:

  • Proactive coverage of reasonable steps to prevent or mitigate a disaster
  • Risk assessment and preparedness for potential disasters impacting on State Library to varying degrees including documenting listings of staff resources, consumables, and equipment that are on-site or can be quickly made available from external vendors
  • Prioritisation and mapping of the collection to inform the Disaster Recovery Coordinator of the sequence for recovery and level of  treatment that  will applied to the collections affected
  • Procedures for response including evacuation procedures andimplementation of the recovery process regardless of when it occurs if and when a disaster unfolds
  • Post-recovery procedures to maximise recovery of affected State Library collections and the speedy return to pre-disaster business operations.

The principles of prevention, preparedness, response, recovery, and post recovery detailed in the plan are succinctly written as a basis for taking action and making decisions.

We will continue to work towards further development and ensuing implementation of an overarching “integrated” Disaster Plan which will consolidate planning regardless of being a physical or digital collection along with records content.


A key component of collection care is conservation.  Conservation treatment is applied to Memory and Extraordinary Collections to provide for access to these items which are often inaccessible due to their condition. This treatment will have a focus on stabilisation and repair to ensure that the integrity of the item is maintained and it is preserved for a long as possible for future generations to enjoy. The major focus and thereby highest level application of conservation resources will be given to the Memory Collection.

The State Library conservation schedule will adhere to the AICCM Code of Ethics and Code of Practice.

All conservation activities will be carried out while adopting the preservation philosophy, Standards, and ethics outlined in item 7 of this policy document.

The conservation program will deliver on the long term preservation of collections by provision of  treatment, exhibition, prevention, and outreach services. The program will actively consult with  relevant staff to  ensure prioritisation and levels of treatment. Items requiring intervention conservation will be informed by significance and condition.

The Senior Conservator will oversee and approve treatment proposals and ensure accurate  recordkeeping for condition reports and treatment documentation in accordance with AICCM Code of Ethics and Code of Practice (items 37- 41).

It is acknowledged that medium-to-large libraries will never have sufficient resources to treat the entire, often fragile, linear kilometres of collections. Conservation staff will adopt a proactive and holistic approach in preserving the collection. This will include applying preventive preservation measures in ensuring long term preservation for the bulk of the collection while reserving intervention conservation practices for the collections assessed as highest priority including those required for exhibition or digitisation.

Also influencing the prioritisation levels and level of treatment for items will be the instances of duplicates of holdings. Best condition and complete version will be selected and conserved appropriately with minimal resources applied to duplicate versions.

Physical collections which have been selected to be turned digital will be processed through triage to assess for conservation requirements before and/or post digitisation to ensure the stability and long preservation of the material.

Where an item is identified for digitisation, but the preparation such as disassembly of a tightly bound rare book will impact on the integrity of the item and cannot be returned to its original state post digitisation, the item may not be progressed for digitisation. Exceptions to this approach would be assessed and determined by senior staff.

The conservation repair of the Information Collections will be assessed by an initial triage. This triage will assess the extent of damage of each item, evaluate the cost to repair the item, any duplicates existing in the collection, frequency of use of the item, capacity to obtain a replacement version, if item is outdated and usage rates are low.


Preservation Services will provide ongoing training of all staff, volunteers, and contractors, who handle and process collections to ensure sound comprehension and application of best practice preservation and registration procedures.

Specialised Preservation Services staff will be provided with opportunities to attend workshops and conferences to support ongoing developments in conservation and reformatting practices and will share findings within State Library and to Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums (GLAM) sector colleagues.

Conservation will provide a suite of preservation and conservation information guides across the public library network and the Queensland public in general to support these sectors.  They are provided in hard copy and online form.

Staff who are assigned/volunteer for membership of Disaster Response Team are provided with training in retrieval, sorting, and salvage operations.

Research and development

Preservation Services will actively pursue scientific and technical research to provide for continuous development and best practice solutions in the conservation and preservation of the Memory and Extraordinary Collections.

Research activities will be logged and progressed as part of State Library’s organisational Research and Evaluation Forward Plan.

The State Library recognises the importance of collaboration when it comes to identifying and implementing best practice preservation solutions.  We will work collaboratively with our colleagues in the GLAM sector to find solutions of mutual benefit.

Resourcing (Budget & Staffing)

State Library will allocate a portion of its annual budget to ensure that a prioritised program is resourced and applied in conjunction with the Preservation Policy.

Further revenue will be sought through the Queensland Library Foundation and provision of fee based Commercial Preservation Services including:

  • Preservation Workshops
  • Exhibitions Loan fees
  • On-selling small quantities of conservation consumables to assist the community with the distributed Queensland Memory
  • On-selling duplicates of out of copyright Memory Collections including oral histories, motion picture films, historic newspapers on microfilm, publications, photographic collections in digital or print form


Disposal of collections will be in accordance with the approved delegation and procedures   for withdrawal and disposal of collection items.

Risk Management and Mitigation

The risk profiles relating to the preservation of the collection have been identified and mitigated against in the risk management register which has been approved by the Library Board of Queensland.


The Policy is supported by and acknowledges the following references:

External References

State Library Internal References

Internal Procedures

  • Costings for book repair and rebinding of Information Collections
  • Withdrawal and disposal
    Procedure on withdrawal and disposal of collection items
  • Basic handling procedures
    Handling procedures for State Library of Queensland Collections
  • Integrated pest management procedures
  • Procedure for sending work to the Conservation Unit
  • Quarantine procedures for incoming material
  • Procedure for the selection and preparation of items for exhibition and display
  • Displaying collection material - Function or event
  • Procedures for handling collections from Cold and Conditioning Stores
  • Exhibition Display Case specifications
  • General specifications for Climate Control
  • Specifications for Lighting Control
  • Procedure for display of Queensland Memory Heritage Collections in non-exhibition spaces
  • Lending Policy – Loans for Exhibition procedures: Borrower
  • Lending Policy – Loans for Exhibition procedures: Staff
  • Guidelines for selection of digitisation equipment

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