Syracuse University Library

March 16th, 2012

For our official regional trip of the semester, UB SLA went to Syracuse University at visited their Conservation & Preservation Department, and also caught a peek of their special collections.

The Preservation Department at Syracuse University was founded in the 1990s. Preservation had its heyday between the 1970s and 1990s, and is now, (along with many other fields), not finding as much funding. Still, the workrooms we saw were very interesting, and it was a great opportunity to learn more about new methods in preservation.


Most of the repair work is done in the circulating collection, with student work-study students comprising the majority of the repair staff.

In lieu of boxing many of the books in need of repair, a lot of items are now wrapped in plastic wrap and returned to the shelves. While boxes may cost between $6 and $7 a piece, shrink wrapping costs only 70 cents to 95 cents.


Syracuse University is also working on creating a high-density storage facility for low-use items, following a trend now found in many academic libraries, including the University at Buffalo.

There is also a very large emphasis on digital preservation and migration, in terms of both texts and audio materials. SU has a huge collection of wax cylinders and records that are gradually being digitized for student use, and shared on WNY Heritage when copyright is no longer as much of an issue.


There are few schools now that focus on book preservation as a course of study for students. Most conservation programs, (Buffalo State College included), are more multi-disciplinary, with students learning conservation techniques for books alongside conservation techniques for paintings or furniture.

The main thing that we took away from this trip is that the libraries of today need to know where libraries and trends are going. As our host queried, what is a book?


Images courtesy of Susan Potera.