The Yale Survey: A Large-Scale Study of Book Deterioration in the Yale University Library

Robin Gay Walker, Jane Greenfield, John Fox, Jeffrey S. Simonoff
1985 College and Research Libraries  
A large-scale survey of the physical condition of books and the nature of the collections in the Yale University Library system that evaluated more than 36,500 volumes was carried out. Results have been tabulated, compared by computer, and analyzed to provide statistical information on the fifteen distinct collections surveyed in thirty-six separate strata. Environmental conditions were also monitored. These studies, along with the analyses of binding materials and methods, were used to
more » ... e probable reasons for deterioration levels as well as documenting these levels. Several questions of particular interest were compared in two-way intersections, and a brief analysis was made of publication dates in relation to age and condition of a selected group of books. It was found that 37.1 percent of the books sampled overall had brittle paper (i.e., broke after two double folds) and that 82.6 percent of the books overall had acidic paper (i.e., a pH of below 5.4). These and other results should help Yale and libraries elsewhere to identify their preservation needs and develop appropriate programs. ne of the most serious problems facing research libraries today is the preservation of the materials that comprise their collections-materials that are deteriorating because of their chemical composition, the mechanics of their construction, and the effects of uncontrolled environmental conditions. Deterioration is a particularly critical problem in large libraries; where the age and size of the collections make evalu~tion and corrective action difficult. It has been estimated that more than six million volumes in the collections of the Library of Congress have deteriorated so badly they cannot be given to users without risk of irreparable
doi:10.5860/crl_46_02_111 fatcat:6bzmbgqxvbcybebfspchkyloai