The Conservation unit provides preservation and conservation of materials in original format in the University Library's special collections. Underlying Conservation’s procedures and policies is the assumption that the curatorial decision to separate certain materials into a "special collection" identifies these items as having value as physical objects that may be compromised if they were stored and handled in the same manner as the general collections, treatment of which is handled by the Bindery Preparations and Book Repair units.
Conservation staff evaluate and treat materials on an item-by-item basis, working closely with curatorial staff to ensure that appropriate decisions are made; they are familiar with and follow the principles of the Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC). The Conservation unit maintains primary expertise in the conservation of books but staff also have training and experience working with documents on paper, papyrus, parchment, and collections care of photographic materials.
In addition to the Special Collections Library, located in the Hatcher Graduate Library, Conservation serves ten smaller collections of special material located in separate rooms or locked cages in many of the divisional libraries. The Conservation unit does not serve the independent libraries on campus (Law, Business, Bentley, Clements, Ford), nor does it provide contract work for organizations or individuals outside the University Library.