The American Theological Library Association (ATLA) 2012 Preservation Survey, available to the association’s 282 institutional and affiliate member libraries in the United States and Canada, from October through December 2012, was accessed by ninety-six libraries, a 34.0% response rate, and completed by ninety-five, a 33.7% completion rate. 

The Report of the ATLA 2012 Preservation Survey presents the findings of the survey.  The report was prepared by Liz Bishoff (The Bishoff Group) and Tom Clareson (LYRASIS), the project consultants for the survey. 

Historically, ATLA’s preservation activity focused on partnering with member libraries on preservation strategies centering on microfilming of collections held by member libraries.  As ATLA and its membership moved into the 21st century, microfilming initiatives wound down, and now ATLA and its membership are examining next steps for the association’s preservation program.  To inform program development, ATLA undertook a web-based survey of preservation interests and needs.

Overwhelmingly, respondents agreed that preservation should continue to be a priority activity for the American Theological Library Association.  The survey showed a strong interest from the membership for preservation education, funding, and collaboration activities becoming centerpieces of ATLA’s evolving preservation program.   Members’ responses also showed a growing concern for and involvement in the digitization of materials and digital preservation. Responses indicated that a lack of environmental controls, space, and funding and personnel for preservation were considered by member institutions as their most serious preservation problems.

Based on findings from the preservation survey, the American Theological Library Association will explore several of the recommendations submitted by members.  Efforts will focus on five key areas.

Education:  ATLA will develop an educational program to address preservation needs for members, including webinars, workshops, and conference programs.  Popular topics for coverage will include:

  • Advocacy, fundraising and grant-writing

  • Digitization

  • Digital preservation

  • Disaster preparedness and recovery

  • Preservation management

  • Collections conservation

Promotion:  ATLA will collect and promote resources to further members’ preservation efforts, including model policies, templates, resources, reports, and directories of support organizations.  ATLA will also develop a system of communications to keep members aware of preservation news and activities within the association and profession.

Consultation: ATLA will explore options for providing consulting services to libraries, especially in the areas of collections surveys, creation of formal preservation plans, and continuing education.  ATLA can leverage existing programs to provide hands-on support to members.

Funding: ATLA will explore funding to support the preservation work of member libraries and seek opportunities for savings on preservation products beneficial to members. 

Leadership:  ATLA will leverage its collaborative role within the profession to lead the development of directories of denominational materials and preservation copies of last resort, creating forums for the exchange of ideas, and promoting the importance of preservation to the wider theological and religious communities.