The Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, 1999, of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works reflects the environment that shall be embodied in the New York State Library's preservation commitment.
"Cultural property consists of individual objects, structures, or aggregate collections. It is material which has significance that may be artistic, historic, scientific, religious, or social, and it is an invaluable and irreplaceable legacy that must be preserved for future generations."
The mission of the New York State Library, a "public library for the use of the government and the people of the State," is to "provide reference, information and loan service to the legislative, executive and judicial branches of the government and to insure that every resident of the State has convenient free access to the collections and services" of the Library.
Preservation priorities shall be guided by the vision, mission and goals as put forth by the State Education Department, the Office of Cultural Education and the New York State Library. In addition, the Collection Development Policy of the Library, use patterns of Library materials and an understanding of the intellectual content and provenance of the collections shall be consulted in determining priorities.
Rigidly maintaining high standards within the physical environment in which library materials are stored or utilized promotes the preservation of these materials and ensures the greatest longevity for all formats within the collection.
Rigidly maintaining high standards in the physical treatment of library materials promotes the preservation of the item as an artifact and/or the preservation of the intellectual content of the item. Properly conducted preservation treatment practices can ensure longevity to both.
All library staff shares the responsibility for education of staff and users of the Library in basic preservation and conservation practices. The public services staff and the Preservation Officer are responsible for instruction of the public in proper care and handling of library materials.
Library materials shall be made available to the fullest extent possible without potential damage to the materials. Staff and users are responsible for any library materials they use and they should always handle all materials carefully to avoid any damage. Reasonable care of all the collections of the library includes several factors delineated in the Preservation Policy.
Researchers and staff using library materials in the Manuscripts and Special Collections Unit must handle all materials with extra care and observe additional regulations concerning the use of valuable special collections delineated in the Preservation Policy.
Photo-reproduction of library materials always has the potential of damage. Photocopiers and scanning equipment are provided which are designed to effect minimal damage to materials. Where any form of reproduction may be detrimental to the material, the preservation of the material takes priority.
These guidelines are concerned with library materials exhibited in the Cultural Education Center and in other institutions. Loans of material for exhibit are generally governed by these same policies and have additional regulations.
Exhibits, by nature, expose library materials to light and other potential environmental damage for long periods of time. Therefore, exhibits require that special attention be given to the physical environment of the exhibit cases and surrounding space.
Materials may be loaned for exhibits in other libraries, museums and historical societies which meet commonly accepted national standards as institutions. Prior to loans of materials, the requesting institution must submit a detailed description of the exhibit facility and installation and must complete and sign a New York State Library exhibit loan agreement.