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Fact Sheet
Preservation and Collection Management Program

Revised February 19, 2013

NLM Fact Sheet

Preservation and Collection Management Program

In response to its mandate to preserve and provide access to the biomedical literature, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) has developed 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 staff and contractors shelve and shelf read the collection; identify and resolve problems with missing or damaged materials; oversee collection security procedures; process gift volumes; conduct collection inventories; analyze space needs and develop plans to accommodate collection growth.

Collections Emergency Prevention, Response and Disaster Recovery

The Library has a comprehensive plan for protecting the 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 (COOP).  Advice for libraries on collections disaster prevention, response and recovery is available at //

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 to the History of Medicine Division, see: //

Library Binding

NLM contractors prepare and bind approximately 18,000 serial and monograph volumes per year. Preservation and Collection Management staff work closely with the contractors to ensure that preservation quality standards are met.


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

Preserving Digital Files

PubMed Central (PMC) is NLM's digital archive of life sciences journal literature in electronic form. NLM's digital repository // contains books, videos and other collection materials in electronic form.

Reformatting Program

NLM is in the process of digitizing American monographs printed from 1610 through 1922.  As a partner in the Medical Heritage Library Project funded in 2009 by the Alfred P. Sloan foundation, NLM digitized more than 8,000 U.S. imprints published through 1865. The Library has digitized the back files of ninety journals (1.2 million articles) in PubMed Central NLM reformats in analog and digital form motion pictures and videos of historical value that are in deteriorating condition or formats that are becoming obsolete.

For further information please contact:

Preservation and Collection Management Section
National Library of Medicine
Rm B1E21
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20894
Phone: (301) 496-8124
Fax: (301) 435-2922


For general information on NLM services, contact:

National Library of Medicine
Customer Service
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20894
Telephone: 1-888-FINDNLM (1-888-346-3656)
NLM Customer Service Form at  Contact NLM

A complete list of NLM Fact Sheets is available at:
(alphabetical list) //
(subject list): //

Or write to:

Office of Communications and Public Liaison
National Library of Medicine
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland 20894

Phone: (301) 496-6308
Fax: (301) 496-4450