On the conservation of the rare book and manuscript collections in the Spanish autonomous communities' regional libraries

Objective: To examine the main aspects of the activity undertaken to conserve the rare book and manuscript collections in the Spanish autonomous communities’ fourteen regional libraries.

Methodology: Based on a study of the principles and standards used to guide conservation activities in the preservation of rare book and manuscript collections, a questionnaire comprising 39 questions in seven sections was administered to the libraries in question between November 2018 and January 2019. The questionnaire assessed how the libraries managed their conservation activities and compared their performance using two reference models: the UNESCO Library and the Red de Bibliotecas Universitarias Españolas (Spanish University Libraries Network, REBIUN).

Results: The study showed the following: six libraries use in-house regulations to guide their conservation activities; eight adopt regulations or standards published by an external authority; five have a preventive preservation plan; ten employ closed book boxes made of acid-free board to store pamphlets and other special, small-format materials; ten control the artificial lighting of their holdings; thirteen control humidity levels; twelve have general protocols for users wishing to consult the library and nine, book handling protocols; thirteen conduct digitisation activities; and two have restoration plans. The libraries were also classified by their degree of observance of the guidelines of the two reference networks, the UNESCO/PERSIST Guidelines (the regional libraries in the autonomous communities of Castilla-La Mancha, Catalonia, Galicia and Madrid, amongst others) and REBIUN’s Normas (the regional libraries in Castilla and León, Catalonia, Extremadura and Murcia, amongst others) and by their conservation policy as this is reflected in their answers in the questionnaire r (Catalonia, Castilla–La Mancha and Madrid, amongst others).