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Preservation Division Receives Grant to Protect Rare Material
The senior thesis of Supreme Court Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo, CC1889, is held by the Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

The New York State Program for the Conservation and Preservation of Library Research Materials has awarded Columbia's Preservation Division funding for two projects to preserve endangered materials. Yellowed paper that breaks as readers turn pages is a serious problem for libraries, and each year the New York State Grant Program supports libraries and other organizations engaged in efforts to preserve deteriorating research materials.

Through the program, Columbia will receive $150,052 for a two-year cooperative project to microfilm approximately 2,014 brittle East Asian serial volumes. Materials will be drawn from collections at Columbia University, the State University of New York at Buffalo and other libraries in New York state.

Columbia will also receive $65,017 for a one-year cooperative project to photocopy brittle reference materials. This is the third phase of a project that began in 2002. Columbia will manage the project and contribute approximately 55 volumes amounting to more than 36,000 pages. Cornell University and the State University of New York at Albany will contribute an additional 115 volumes. Included in the materials to be photocopied are encyclopedias and other reference tools that have deteriorated physically and must be preserved in paper form because they are not available online.

"The New York State Grant Program has been immensely valuable in saving the cultural and intellectual heritage of the citizens of New York since it was established in 1984," noted Janet Gertz, director of preservation at Columbia University Libraries. "These projects will enable Columbia to address the problem of paper embrittlement, preventing it through de-acidification and creating new copies of already deteriorated volumes."

In addition to these projects, Columbia will participate in a project managed by the New York Public Library that will fund deacidification of 1,700 acidic-paper Urdu volumes from Columbia's collection in each of the next two years. The books should last for hundreds of years once they have been treated chemically to neutralize the acids that cause their paper to become brittle.

Organized in 1974, the Preservation Division is one of the five oldest library preservation programs in the United States. The division is responsible for maintaining the Libraries' collections through proper care, housing and disaster prevention. The division provides treatment of items to ensure their continued availability for use and copying to new formats when use is no longer possible due to damage or severe deterioration. Materials in all formats and genres are cared for by the division, including digital resources created by the Libraries.

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Published: Feb 18, 2005
Last modified: Feb 17, 2005

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