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Public Services Division

Preservation and Collection Management (PCM) Section

General Information:

In response to its mandate to preserve and provide access to biomedical literature, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) has developed a preservation policy and an extensive preservation and collection management program.  Elements of the program include:


  • Reformatting fragile and deteriorated materials
  • Binding
  • Book repair and conservation
  • Disaster prevention and recovery for collections
  • Environmental monitoring of collection areas
  • Preserving digital formats

Collection Management

  • Stacks maintenance
  • Collection security
  • Journal donation program
  • Collection inventories
  • Space planning

NLM shelves and shelf reads the collection; identifies and resolves problems with missing or damaged materials; oversees collection security procedures; processes gift volumes; conducts collection inventories; analyzes space needs and develops plans to accommodate collection growth.

Collections Emergency Prevention, Response and Disaster Recovery

NLM has a comprehensive plan for protecting its collection and salvaging materials should they become damaged by flood or fire.  Staff have been assigned to teams and trained in collection recovery procedures. An extensive collection of disaster supplies and equipment is kept on hand. The disaster plan is evaluated periodically and appropriate steps are taken to mitigate risks to stored materials. The response and salvage procedures are part of the Library's Continuity of Operations Plan.  Guidance for libraries on collections disaster prevention, response, and recovery is available at Emergency Preparedness and Response.

Conservation and Book Repair

NLM has a longstanding program for the conservation of valuable materials in its History of Medicine Division (HMD) collection.  The library has an on-site lab for repair of volumes from the general collection and treatment of historical print and photographic materials.

Environmental Monitoring

Maintaining stable cool and dry conditions in storage areas is the single most effective way to ensure the longevity of library collections.  NLM has a system in place to measure temperature and relative humidity throughout the stacks and monitor conditions at all times.

Journal Donation Program

NLM's Journal Donation Program is designed to encourage libraries to donate print journals, indexes, and other serials they no longer wish to retain.  Libraries may use the web-based system to find out what volumes NLM needs. Libraries can offer any title, including titles not owned by NLM. To contact the Journal Donation Program, please call (301) 496-0081 or send an email to To donate pre 1871 journal volumes, see the HMD Acquisition Program.

Library Binding

NLM has an active program to prepare and bind serial and monograph volumes. Preservation and Collection Management staff work closely with the contractors to ensure that preservation quality standards are met.

MedPrint – Medical Serials Print Preservation Program

The National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) and NLM are working together to ensure the preservation of and continued access to the literature through a national cooperative medical serials print retention program, MedPrint.


From 1986 to 2007, NLM microfilmed approximately 105,000 volumes of serials and monograph volumes printed on deteriorating paper.   Within copyright restrictions, NLM permits purchase of microfilm copies of the titles it has filmed.  For order information, consult the Microfilm Sales Program.

Preserving Digital Files

NLM has an active program to digitize biomedical texts and selected audio-visual titles, which are freely available online via NLM's Digital Collections and in partnership with the Medical Heritage Library.  In addition, NLM digitizes back files of biomedical journal literature in partnership with the Wellcome Trust, which are freely available online in PubMed Central (PMC), NLM's digital archive of life sciences journal literature.

Organization/Contact List

Program Management: Ben Petersen (Head)
              Phone: (301)827-5396
Collection Management, Book Repair, Binding: Margaret McGhee
              Phone: (301)496-9324
Digital Reformatting, Vault Management, Microfilm Sales, Disaster Recovery: Walter Cybulski
              Phone: (301)496-2690
Journal Donation Program: Sandra Kim
              Phone: (301)496-0081
Preservation of Audiovisuals: Sandra Kim
              Phone: (301)496-0177