Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Collection Preservation and Budget Issues at UCDavis

The UC Davis Binding Services Section hosted a workshop on their services on Monday, February 22, 2010. The Binding Services Section is part of the Margaret B. Harrison Preservation Department which is housed in the Technical Services Department of the Peter J. Shields Library. The talk was presented by Charlotte Payne, supervisor of the Binding Services Section and Wendy Jones, supervisor of the Conservation Treatment and In-House Binding Sub-Section.

The services of the Binding Section take place against a backdrop of shrinking budgets and offer not only ingenious techniques for doing the job with less money but also a portrait of how the budget-crisis of the UCs is affecting every aspect of libraries. The binding budget has dropped by almost 40% in the last two years from $106,868 to $77,376. Charlotte said that the first consideration is mandatory requirements. All monographs and monographic series housed at the Physical Sciences Library (PSE) are bound, amounting to $4,000 of the buddget. This is partly because space is so compact there that the binding is necessary to squeeze everything in although it was noted that binding also increases the size of a book by a small amount. Gift books are generally not bound or repaired, however, those in need of serious repair will be bound. Otherwise, in order to allot the limited resources of the binding department, Charlotte gathers as much information as possible on the usage level and value of the book. She checks circulation levels of old copies and provdes slips to collection developers asking for their expectations of usage. One librarian mentioned that he had been told not to use these slips, but Charlotte said that, from the point-of-view of the binding department, information was always helpful. Active involvement of the bibliographers is an important element in successful cost reduction.

Among the binding materials available for paperback books, mylar is the champion: it is sturdier than plastic boook jackets, has superior openability, retains front and back covers, and is cheaper than buckram binding with almost equivalent durability. Buckram is reserved for books of significant size and weight. Use of the fastback machine has now been discontinued as the machinery had so much downtime that it was cost-effective to send the jobs to the UC bindery instead. In addition, in-house fastbacking was impacted by cuts in the budget for student assistants. In response to a question, Charlotte said that she was not aware of any "green binding" yet in existence other than the use of acid-free board in binding. What cannot be repaired in-house or at the UC bindery is sent to collection developers with a list of options, including replacement or discard.

Wendy discussed the repair processes of the preservattion department. Books arrive from all branches and departmeents in the Library but the bulk, 270 per month, come from the Circulation department. About 100 per month are sent to the UC bindery, a much smaller number than previously since books are increasingly repaired on-site to save money. An average of 170 books per month have conservattion treatment including rebacking and treatmeent for a bindery new case. Categories of problems include books with sugar and coffee stains or any other kind of stain that could attract insects and threaten the collection. Wendy observed that the quantity of damaged books has increased significantly. There is also an increased incidence of ink markings in books. Asian language books often arrive with very fragile bindings that need to be replaced. The preservattion department works hard to do conservation work that can reduce the costs of UC biinding which, for rebinding or a new case, costs $16. However, the student staff has been cut from 10 to six because of budget cuts, and the preservation departmeent has become significantly backlogged. Repair options include tack binding, velo binding, pam binding and custom-made boxes for books, and full conservation treatments, including resewing. Sometimes books are sent to NRLF where they will be handled less. Wendy reiterated that she works very closely with Charlotte and both check the Melvyl catalog to formulate the most cost-effective repair choices. Wendy added that you cannot always predict which items will be used. GRE Prrep books from 2003 have been borrowed many times already in 2010. Those people are desperate....