Conservation and Preservation in the Digital Age


John F. Dean, Cornell University

Streaming Media

Document Type





special collections, rare books and media; library conservation; conservation; preservation; preservation education; conservation education; bookbinding; apprenticeship; digitization, Brodsky Series




Archival Science | Art and Materials Conservation | Book and Paper | Library and Information Science


Conservation and Preservation in the Digital Age, a lecture by John Dean, Preservation and Conservation Librarian, Cornell University Library. The lecture was the first in the Brodsky Series for the Advancement of Library Conservation. By digitizing primary source material, libraries can make them widely available through the Internet while minimizing actual handling, and resultant deterioration, of these unique artifacts. Nevertheless, digitization has led to more, not less, emphasis on conservation and preservation as libraries work to prepare materials for scanning. In his talk, Dean will examine the challenges of performing conservation treatments on books, manuscripts, and other library materials not only for the purpose of obtaining the best possible electronic images, but also for preserving their original functional integrity for future scholars.

After emigrating from Great Britain to the United States in 1969, John F. Dean managed the preservation program at the Newberry Library before establishing the apprentice training and conservation program at the Johns Hopkins University in1975. He went to Cornell University in 1985 to establish and develop the Department of Preservation and Conservation. He is widely recognized as one of the major proponents of preservation programs at academic libraries and was the 2003 recipient of the American Library Association’s prestigious Paul Banks and Carolyn Harris Preservation Award. He is increasingly in demand internationally as a conservation consultant.

See more on the Brodsky Series Page at: https://library.syr.edu/scrc/programs/brodsky.php

JohnDeanLecture2005.pdf (126 kB)
"Conservation and Preservation in the Digital Age" lecture transcript and notes