Preservation management: informing and developing policy and strategy for practice

Submitting Institution

Loughborough University

Unit of Assessment

Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, Library and Information Management 

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Information and Computing Sciences: Library and Information Studies
Language, Communication and Culture: Communication and Media Studies

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Summary of the impact

Since 1993, the outcomes of preservation management research at Loughborough University have:

  1. contributed to the content and development of international and national policies for preservation of materials and data in information collections and memory institutions
  2. led to the development of a method and tool which has been widely applied for assessing preservation needs in these collections
  3. significantly improved disaster management procedures in libraries and archives
  4. influenced changes in cultural heritage-related laws including international agreements to facilitate preservation of digital material
  5. enabled the creation of a registry tool to support collection managers in decision-making on the preservation of journals.

Underpinning research

The research as detailed below was undertaken at Loughborough University, led by Professor John Feather (Loughborough 1979-date), Professor Graham Matthews (Loughborough 1991-97, 2006-date) and Dr Adrienne Muir (Loughborough 2000-date).

1. Feather, Matthews and Eden (1994-1999) comprehensively researched preservation practices and issues in UK libraries in 1993-1994 [G3.1]. This national survey (682 British libraries — all public library authorities, all national, university and a sample of college and special libraries, with a 72% response rate) identified good practice and significant gaps in understanding among funding bodies and senior professional leaders [3.1]. Feather and Eden followed this with detailed research at policy level [G3.3]. Feather, Matthews, Muir and Lockyer (2004-2008) subsequently investigated preservation policies and practices in libraries, in 2007, which included a review of the National Preservation Office's (NPO) activities [G3.2, 3.2]. This research evidenced the developments of the previous decade including the derivation of evidence-based policies from previous research at Loughborough University.

2. The research (at 2.1) led to greater understanding and recognition of UK national needs in preservation management. In 1997, Matthews led a team which undertook additional research which provided the data to underpin the team's development of a collection survey method for assessing preservation needs in libraries and archives [G3.4] locally and nationally [3.3]. Prior to this no such dedicated tool for use in British libraries existed.

3. In 1995-1996, Matthews led the first comprehensive research into disaster management in British Libraries [G3.5]. The libraries which responded to the survey at 2.1 were surveyed and interviews with a range of non-library stakeholders (for example, fire service personnel, local authority emergency managers, insurers, disaster recovery company experts) were undertaken. This research investigated disaster management practice, discovering data and giving insights into professional and technical issues on a national scale, identifying issues which needed to be resolved and helping to define methodologies for the implementation of policies. Key findings were incorporated into guidelines for policy and practice [3.4]. Matthews undertook further research in this field between 2006 and 2008. This was broader in scope, with coverage extended to include archives and museums as well as libraries, also drawing on international experience including the consequences of large scale natural and man-made disasters and recent widespread flooding in England at that time

4. Developments in digital publishing from the late 1990s necessitated a reconsideration of legal deposit arrangements and long-term preservation of, and access to, digital materials. The policy and practical implications of the legal deposit and long-term storage of digital materials was the focus of work led by Muir. Key findings included that copyright posed a barrier to preservation of digital material and that publishers had strong concerns about the nature of access to their publications and possible impact on their businesses. Further research included surveys that confirmed that current preservation copyright exceptions were no longer fit for purpose and needed to be revised [3.5] [G3.6]. This led to a major project with libraries and publishers to research international copyright issues in digital preservation; the team went on to explore the international dimension [G3.7]. Key findings across the four jurisdictions surveyed (UK, Netherlands, USA and Australia) were that existing exceptions to copyright were not appropriate for digital preservation or for digitising orphan works, threatening the preservation of digital heritage.

5. Muir researched the issues around the creation and management of an archived e-journals registry [G3.8] and used these to develop a set of scenarios for the registry and a set of alternative implementations [3.6]. EDINA (Edinburgh University Data Library) developed these into a tool for librarians.

References to the research


3.1. Feather, J.P., Matthews, G. and Eden, P.A. (1996), Preservation management. Policies and practices in British libraries, Gower, Aldershot, xii, 174 pp, ISBN 978-0566076220 [Research monograph]

3.2. Feather, J., S. Lockyer, G. Matthews and Muir, A. (2007), The preservation landscape in the UK and Ireland. Alexandria, 19(2), 123-134. [Refereed journal]

3.3. Eden, P., Bell, N., Dungworth, N. and Matthews, G. (1998), Preservation needs assessment in libraries and archives: piecing together the national jigsaw, Library Management, 19(4), 228-237. DOI: 10.1108/01435129810213325 [Refereed journal]


3.4. Matthews, G. and Eden, P. (1996), Disaster management in British libraries: project report with guidelines for library managers. (Library and Information Report 109) British Library Research and Development Department, 106pp. ISBN 978-0712333061

3.5. Muir, A. (2004), Digital preservation: awareness, responsibility and rights issues, Journal of Information Science, 30(1), 73-92. DOI: 10.1177/0165551504041680 [Refereed journal]


3.6. Sparks, S., Look, H., Bide, M. and Muir, A. (2010), A registry of archived electronic journals. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 42(2), 111-121. DOI: 10.1177/0961000610361552 [Refereed journal]


Key research grants

G3.1. Leverhulme Trust. Preservation policies in British libraries: a ten year review, 1983 -1992. 1993. Feather (PI), Matthews (CI), P Eden (RA). £33,000

G3.2. National Preservation Office. UK preservation landscape survey. 2007. Feather (PI), Matthews (CI), Muir (CI), Lockyer (RA) £10,000

G3.3. British Library and Research and Innovation Centre. National preservation policy: policies and practices in libraries, archives and record offices. 1996. Feather (PI), Eden (RA). £35,000

G3.4. British Library Research and Innovation Centre. A collection survey method for assessing preservation needs in libraries and archives. 1997. Matthews (PI) Eden (RA), Dungworth (RA) and Bell (Oxford Conservation Consortium, University of Oxford). £55,000

G3.5. British Library Research and Development Department. Disaster management in British libraries. 1995. Matthews (PI), Eden (RA). £35,000

G3.6. Arts and Humanities Research Board. Copyright and licensing for digital preservation. 2002. Muir (PI), Ayre (RA). £72,742

G3.7. Joint Information Systems Committee. International study of copyright and digital preservation. 2007. Muir (PI). £22,450

G3.8. Joint Information Systems Committee. Scoping and feasibility study for a registry of archived electronic journals. 2007. Muir (PI), Sparks, Look, Bide (all research consultants, Rightscom). £29,601

Details of the impact

1. The outcomes of the policy work were incorporated into policy statements and practical professional guidelines developed by international and national organisations and institutions, including the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions and the NPO [5.1]. Within the UK, a specific area of impact of the policy and strategy research has been in the reconfiguration of the Preservation Advisory Centre (PAC), the successor body (2009- ) to the NPO. The new structure and terms of reference of the PAC were a direct outcome of the work published as Feather, Lockyer, Matthews and Muir [3.2].

2. The development of a Preservation Needs Assessment (PNA) tool was a key element in achieving significant impact. It has been applied in libraries and archives throughout the UK [5.1], leading to the publication of Knowing the need reports (2006, NPO and 2013, PAC) on the emerging picture of preservation need in libraries and archives in the UK and Ireland. The 2006 report, based on 97 individual surveys, representing over 28 million items was the first ever national survey of preservation needs in the UK which achieved this level of granularity. The 2013 report is based on 86 surveys representing collections totalling more than 50 million items [5.2]. This data, analysed for PAC by LISU (Library and Information Statistics Unit), a research unit in this UoA, has strengthened the information base which informs national policy and investment, and institutional strategy. Through the NPO, the PNA has been used in libraries in Australia, Israel and Sweden, and archives in Norway.

3. The impact of the disaster management strand of the research also began before 2008; for example, the guidelines [3.4] were adopted by practitioners in libraries and networks across the UK and publications from the research included in guidance and bibliographies for disaster management across the world The disaster plan of the M25 Consortium of Academic Libraries, for example, was directly based on this work which continues to be influential in institutions and consortia [5.3]. In 1996, it was found that 30% of UK institutions had disaster management plans, rising to 62% by 2013 (Knowing the Need, 2013), an increase which was a consequence of the Loughborough University research and the high profile of its dissemination in the relevant sectors. There is also wider and continuing impact beyond libraries and archives, providing, for example, an evidence base for English Heritage to develop nationwide training for heritage employees and managers and fire service personnel (by mid-2012 it had run 16 courses and trained 350 people) [5.4, 5.5]. There has also been a significant international dimension to this work as evidenced by the engagement of the International Committee of the Blue Shield [5.6].

4. The need for legislative change clarified by the research was recognised by the Hargreaves review of intellectual property law in the UK. At the end of 2012, the UK government formally indicated its intention to update current preservation exceptions to facilitate digital preservation. JISC used Muir's work [G3.7] in its written submission
( to the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee [5.7]. Since then, the UK Intellectual Property Office has sought views on how to implement an improved preservation exception ( The international impact of the research is evident in the work of the Legal Panel of the Aligning National Approaches to Digital Preservation meeting organised by the Library of Congress and the National Library of Estonia in 2011. The results of the international study on copyright and digital preservation formed the basis of an international workshop on copyright and preservation at the World Intellectual Property Organization in 2008. The WIPO Standing Committee for Copyright and Related Rights has now included copyright exceptions in its work programme; this derives from one of the key findings of the research. In the UK, the government established a Legal Deposit Advisory Panel (LDAP) to progress the work done at Loughborough. The Panel's e-journals working group (chaired by Muir) established a pilot e-journal deposit scheme and identified and analysed the definitional and practical implementation challenges. The LDAP made recommendations on regulations for legal deposit of non-print publications in 2009. The regulations came into force in April 2013 ( The legal deposit libraries are now collecting digital material for long-term preservation and are already making this material available to the public. For example, material on NHS reform is now discoverable through the British Library's search interface.

5. The results of the scoping and feasibility study for an archived e-journals registry were used by EDINA (which operates the national union catalogue of serials) in the development of the Piloting an E-journals Preservation Registry Service, which is now a successful operational service (The Keepers Registry), international in coverage [5.8]. This service can be used by collection managers in decision making in acquiring and preserving electronic journals.

Sources to corroborate the impact

The following sources of corroboration can be made available at request.

Institutional practice and policies and Preservation needs assessment

5.1. Head, Preservation Advisory Centre, British Library, 96 Euston Road London NW1 2DB. Reference provided

5.2. Peach, C. and Foster, J. (2013) Knowing the need. Optimising preservation for library and archive collections, London, Preservation Advisory Centre
(; and see acknowledgements)

Disaster management

5.3. M25 Consortium of Academic Libraries. Disaster Control Plan website

5.4. Fire Safety Adviser, English Heritage [and Chairman, Institution of Fire Engineers], The Engine House, Fire Fly Avenue, Swindon, SN2 2EH. Reference provided

5.5. Emery, S. (2011) Protecting our heritage, International Preservation News (47), 66-70)

5.6. President of the International Committee of the Blue Shield and Director General of the International Committee of the Blue Shield. Letter

International Study on copyright and digital preservation and Archived e-journal registry projects

5.7. Programme Manager, Digital Infrastructure (Digital Preservation), JISC Executive Reference provided

Archived e-journals registry

5.8. KEEPERS Registry

SUNCAT Project Manager, EDINA

Reference provided