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Preservation Replacement

Preservation Replacement is the University Libraries' "brittle books" program. Damaged circulating books and journals are identified as candidates for preservation replacement by conservation staff when they review them for rebinding or repair. A "brittle book" is one that has loose pages or other damage and can't be repaired because the paper has deteriorated so much that it is brittle and will break when folded.

All books considered for replacement are searched in both local catalogs and OCLC WorldCat to determine how many other copies exist and if microfilm or other reprints are available. If the UW Libraries has more than one copy, preservation staff also examine the condition of other copies.

The book, holding, and condition information are given to the librarian responsible for selecting materials in that subject area. The subject librarian then reviews the item and decides to replace, box, or discard the item. In many instances, the selector decides that the book can be discarded without replacement. In rare cases, a low use book may be returned to the shelves in a box with a note to discard or review again when no longer usable. For titles to be replaced, the subject librarian indicates if the exact edition is required and if a hardcopy or microfilm is preferred. Purchasing another brittle book of the same edition is discouraged since it will inevitably fall apart with use just as the original copy did.

If a reprint or microfilm are not already available for purchase, preservation staff prepare the volume for preservation microfilming or a preservation facsimile. When the film or facsimile is complete, it is added to the collection as a replacement for the brittle, damaged original.