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Preservation Replacement

Preservation Replacement is the University Libraries' "brittle books" program for circulating materials. A brittle book exhibits signs of acidic paper and deterioration: damaged binding, pages that break or tear easily, or yellowing paper. Due to their fragility, brittle books can not be repaired or rebound without further damage and the Libraries' Preservation Replacement program offers some alternatives.

Damaged circulating books and journals are identified as candidates for preservation replacement by Preservation and Conservation staff when they review them for rebinding or repair, or are flagged by Circulation staff after a book has been returned.

All books considered for replacement are searched in library catalogs, both in the other libraries of the Orbis Cascade Alliance and across the country, to determine how many other copies or other editions exist and if reprints are available. If the Libraries has more than one copy, preservation staff also examine the condition of these materials.

This information, a recommendation from Preservation staff, and the book itself are given to the librarian responsible for selecting materials in the relevant subject area. The subject librarian then reviews the item and decides to purchase a reprint or later edition, create a facsimile, box, or discard the item. Purchasing another copy of the same edition is usually discouraged since it will likely be as brittle as the original copy.

If a similar or exact edition of the book is available digitally via the HathiTrust, often the book will be boxed by Conservation staff, and a link provided to the digital copy through the Libraries' catalog. The HathiTrust provides full-text, searchable access to out-of-copyright books. Boxing is also a choice for low-use but still-relevant items, in order to safely retain a volume in the collection, isolate the acidic material from other books to prevent other damage, and provide a visual cue to users of an item's fragility.

Other options include discard, or the purchasing of a more modern reprint if available. Finally, if the subject librarian decides to retain a brittle book in the collection and the book is determined to have enough potential use or research utility and is not replaceable by other means, a preservation facsimile (or occasionally preservation microfilm) is ordered, along with a preservation-level digitization of the book that is deposited in the HathiTrust for both access (if out-of-copyright) and digital preservation.