What is a preservation needs assessment? Well, as Laura herself pointed out, it's sometimes just a matter of having someone outside your institution write a report about what you and other staffers at your repository already know. In our case, we're hoping that the assessment will confirm our need for more space, better environmental controls on some of our existing spaces, and funding for preservation supplies and specific projects.
From the CCAHA's call for applicants:
The preservation needs assessment process encompasses a general evaluation of the institution’s preservation needs for their collection: environment (temperature, relative humidity, pollution and light), housekeeping, pest control, fire protection, security, and disaster preparedness; collection storage, handling, exhibition, and treatment; and preservation planning. The site visit consists of a review of the site, an examination of the collection, and interviews with relevant staff. The written report provides observations, recommendations, and resources to serve as a guide in the development of a comprehensive preservation plan for the collection.In fact, we have already learned something new: Laura's light meter recorded levels close to zero near the rare book shelves in the History of Medicine Room, and the levels in the main area are also remarkably low. Only near the windows do the levels rise significantly. This was fantastic news to us, and inevitably not the first positive outcome from this site visit.
Our thanks to CCAHA for awarding us this grant, and hucking all the way on out to Portland (where it is actually snowing today) from sunny, mild, Philadelphia.