Michigan State University

History of Preservation at the MSU Libraries

The Preservation Department of the MSU Libraries was established in 1991 with Mary Ann Tyrrell serving as the first Preservation Librarian. Earlier initiatives in preservation activities included the formation of a Disaster Planning Committee in 1987 and the beginnings of a book repair unit which was expanded in 1992.

In addition to the Preservation Office, the newly created department consisted of the Binding Preparation, Book Repair, and Collection Renewal units. Major accomplishments the first few years included participation in a CIC cooperative microfilming project to preserve a large collection of Africana books at MSU that had become brittle and would have been lost otherwise. A properly outfitted book repair lab was added and disaster response equipment and supplies were purchased for the main library and its branches. In 1993, a Preservation Advisory Council was appointed to consult on preservation-related issues. Exploring preservation reformatting methods for replacing the growing number of aging, brittle books in its collections, the department added commercially bound photocopy reproductions as a regular part of preservation program. Digitization is now being added to the options for preserving the older collections in their original formats, and the department is working closely with Special Collections and the Science Library to select and prepare materials to use in initial projects for digitization.

In 1999, the Access and Preservation Division was created as part of a reorganization of the MSU Libraries and Jeanne Drewes was appointed head. The units making up this division included Binding Preparation, Collections Conservation, Collection Renewal as well as Preservation and Stacks Maintenance.

Many changes have occurred since 1999. In 2006, Peter Berg, Head of Special Collections and Associate Director of Libraries became the Acting Preservation Librarian. Units under Special Collections then included: Preservation, Conservation, Collection Renewal, and Stacks Maintenance.

In 2012, Eric Alstrom, head of the Wallace Conservation Lab, took over as Preservation Librarian and formed the Conservation and Preservation Unit, overseeing the operations of the Wallace Conservation Lab and Lab Annex, Preservation, Binding Preparation, and the Google Scanning Project. The unit also works with the Digital Information Division in the digitization of the Libraries' collections.