The Bentley Historical Library preserves a wide variety of materials documenting the history of the state of Michigan and the University of Michigan.
Materials are kept in a climate of carefully controlled temperature and humidity, monitored by Hobo Dataloggers. The stacks are pressurized to keep untreated air from entering. Insect control, as well as fire detection and suppression methods, are also in place.
The Bentley Historical Library has been preserving materials on microfilm for many years. Microfilm is a good preservation tool as it is expected to last 100-500 years when filmed and stored properly. Three generations of film are created: master negative, print master negative and positive copies. The master negatives are maintained in cold storage off-site.
Monitoring the condition of the collections and identifying items that will require reformatting or other treatment to insure longterm usability is an essential part of the preservation program. Ann Flowers has surveyed all of the BHL collections to identify and locate all audio-visual materials held in the library. Each item is entered in a database and described according to date, location, physical characteristics, quantity, copyright information and notes on condition. Curator of manuscript collections Tom Powers used the survey to prioritize materials for preservation reformatting, a project which got underway in 2008.
Digitizing for Access and Preservation
The library is increasingly involved with digitization as an access and preservation tool. The library's Image Bank project includes digital versions of a selection of the best and most popular images. A pilot project was undertaken to explore digitizing manuscript collections, the "Polar Bear Expedition" collections relating to Michigan army units that fought in Russia during the First World War. Digitization is seen as a wonderful means of access to the library's holdings and a way of cutting down on wear and tear on originals.
A disaster plan was developed by Ann Flowers in 1976 as an independent study project at the request of Head Conservator James Craven. It was written in outline form for easy access and has been used in several disasters on campus, most notably the December, 1981 fire in the Economics building.
The plan has been requested by many other institutions over the years to use as a model.
"Few historical agencies have disaster plans in place should a calamity befall their facility. Such a plan is essential, but, because it is needed only when an emergency actually occurs, most archivists procrastinate in developing a plan of their own. The Bentley Library has produced a disaster preparedness strategy. Its step-by-step procedures are transferable to archives, library and museum settings." [George and Dorothy Cunha, "Library and Archives Conservation-1980's and Beyond", American Way (March, 1984).]
In 2006/2007 Ann Flowers compiled a new disaster plan, utilizing NEDCC's on-line disaster plan template, dPlan.