Preservation services

A preservationist cuts apart book bindings with a knife

Preservation Services supports the teaching and research mission of the University of Virginia by facilitating access to the Library’s research collections.

We seek ways to maintain the physical integrity of all collection items, regardless of format, and we preserve and ensure long-term access to digitized and born-digital content.


Pre-Program Preservation Intern (Student Wage and Staff Wage)

The University of Virginia (UVA) Preservation Services Unit is thrilled to host a pre-program internship for Summer 2023. Those with a strong interest in pursuing conservation/preservation as a career are encouraged to apply. Please visit this site for more details and how to apply: (UVA Workday, requisition R0044653).

Read the latest updates from Preservation services.

Preservation Services covers the following areas for the University Libraries:

  • Audiovisual conservation: We have the equipment to repair and digitize most of the commonly held audio and video formats in the Library’s collections. We also have the ability to view, inspect, and repair motion picture film.
  • Book and paper conservation: Our Book and Paper Conservator cares for special collections materials.
  • Digital preservation: We stabilize incoming born-digital materials (including web-based materials) and ensure long-term access to digitized and born digital items.
  • Collection conservation and preservation administration: 
    • Book repair for circulating collections: Activities include repairing books and paper, pamphlet binding, making protective enclosures (phase boxes, wrappers, and portfolios), and outsourcing a small number of preservation facsimiles for circulating collections materials.
    • Commercial binding: Materials prepared and routed from the many departmental libraries are processed and sent to a commercial bindery.
    • Consulting: For special projects, grant applications, and overarching preservation concerns.
    • Disaster preparedness and recovery: We provide preparedness instruction for staff and disaster/recovery supplies for every library building. We develop and disseminate collection recovery plans to guide staff responses should a disaster occur.
    • Environmental monitoring: Temperature, lighting, and relative humidity are regularly monitored in Alderman and Small Special Collections buildings.
    • Outsourcing of conservation treatment: Our Book and Paper Conservator and our Audiovisual Conservator oversee outsourced collections care as needed.
    • Preservation outreach: Activities include celebrating Home Movie Day, Preservation Week, and May Day, and hosting various preservation awareness events with donors and Friends of the Library.

Preservation Services is dedicated to maximizing the life expectancy and utility of all collections for current and future users of the Library. See a listing of Preservation staffread more about previous internships, or browse recent presentations.

Preservation Philosophy for the University of Virginia Library

The University of Virginia Library plays a unique role in preservation within the University. Preservation is a set of activities and an overall approach to everything we do in the Library–every activity is informed by a set of preservation principles. 

In order to accomplish our preservation mandate, we: 

  • adhere to the ethical standards of professional organizations and follow established best practices
  • are proactive whenever possible and reactive as necessary; 
  • sustain and maximize usability
  • preserve integrity and authenticity; 
  • are transparent about processes and decisions; 
  • participate in collaborative initiatives that provide shared solutions to community-wide problems; 
  • ensure sustainable preservation activities. 

We strive to maximize the life expectancy and utility of collections, regardless of format, for current and future scholars. We collaborate with stakeholders to determine and define essential characteristics of materials. We advocate for the preservation of the scholarly and cultural record writ large. We embrace the challenges and possibilities of the digital world by acknowledging the integrity of both analog and digital objects and take a balanced approach that best captures the unique evidence or function of the original form. 

Book and Paper Conservation Position Statement

Book and paper conservation involves performing treatments on items within special collections that reflect the item’s current condition, intended use, and anticipated demand. In addition to a weekly evaluation of circulated items within the collection and new acquisitions, the conservator for special collections prioritizes treatments and balances time spent on the following activities:

  1. Supporting reparative archiving and processing
  2. Supporting exhibitions
  3. Supporting research and instruction
  4. Supporting digitization efforts
  5. Supporting long-term collection stabilization projects

Have a preservation-related question?

We suggest you first take a look at our guidance on caring for your personal collections. If you still have questions, fill out this form and we'll do our best to assist.