About the PSAP

The Preservation Self-Assessment Program (PSAP) is a free online tool that helps collection managers prioritize efforts to improve conditions of collections. Through guided evaluation of materials, storage/exhibit environments, and institutional policies, the PSAP produces reports on the factors that impact the health of cultural heritage materials, and defines the points from which to begin care.

In short, the PSAP...

  • Supports targeted preservation assessments of paper documents, books and bound items, photographic and image materials, audio visual material, and non-composite museum objects made of ceramic, glass, stone, or metal.
  • Performs item- and collection-level assessments.
  • Provides textual and image-based educational resources to aid in the identification of different types of materials and their preservation challenges (see the Collection ID Guide).
  • Addresses factors of both storage and display, applicable from open exhibitions to closed archives.

Who is the PSAP for?

Any organization that collects paper documents, photographic and image materials, and audiovisual media, and ceramic, glass, stone, or metal objects can benefit from the PSAP, including libraries, archives, museums, and historical societies. Like the Audiovisual Self-Assessment Program (AvSAP) that preceded it, the PSAP is designed to assist staff at organizations with little to no preservation training or conservation staff.

The Focus

Our goal is to help collections managers develop a prioritized preservation plan as well as to educate them on the “health risks” posed to their collections and what they can do to mitigate them with the resources at hand. The scope of formats and materials currently covered are:

  • Audiovisual Media: Film, Videotape (open-reel, cartridge-based; analog, digital), Audiotape (open-reel, cartridge-based; analog, digital), Phonograph Records, Optical Media (CD, DVD), Grooved Cylinders, and Wire Recordings.
  • Photographic and Image Materials: Photo Prints (B&W, color, Polaroids), Negatives (glass, film), Slides/Transparencies (glass, film), Daguerreotypes, Ambrotypes, Tintypes, Photomechanical Prints, Digital Prints, and Microform.
  • Paper (Bound, Unbound): Various ink/media on various paper types including Documents, Books, Pamphlets, Manuscript, Typescript, Office Copies/Prints (Xeroxes, carbon copies, etc.), Architectural Drawing Reproduction (Blueprints, Photostats, etc.), and more.
  • Objects: Inorganic object materials including Ceramics, Glass, Stone, and Metal.

What is a Preservation Assessment?

Preservation assessments (and surveys) are a key element of good collection stewardship as they allow collections managers and curators to become more familiar with the condition of their collections and derive useful and accurate data about collections. These data help managers to then establish and articulate preservation needs. In general, a preservation assessment considers many different facets of preservation need, ranging from the condition of specific materials to understanding how the building, environment, policies, and use all affect the health of the materials overall. See Preservation Assessments and Surveys for more.

What do I need to get started?

The PSAP meets users on their level of experience and requires no prior knowledge about their preservation. The application guides you to answer direct questions about your resources and will provide additional help options to explain concepts and principles, and to show example images along the way. By answering questions regarding your materials, environments, and policies, you create a unique profile of your organization.

Technical Requirements

The application simply runs in your web browser. No installation is necessary. No limit is placed on the amount of items or collections you assess; all data is securely stored on University of Illinois servers. Also, for those interested, the project is open source; our code is hosted on GitHub.


The PSAP team welcomes input and questions from the communities we serve. Please feel free to contact us at psap@library.illinois.edu or via Twitter @PresCons.


Project Team

  • Jennifer Hain Teper, Project Lead
  • Ryan Edge, Project Manager (2013 – Fall 2014)
  • Amanda Eisemann, Project Manager (Fall 2014 – 2015)
  • Somer Pelczar, Project Manager (May 2016 – November 2016)
  • Alex Dolski, Programmer/Developer

IMLS Advisory Committee

  • Jenny Wiley Arena, Heritage Preservation
  • Christa Deacy-Quinn, The Spurlock Museum
  • Laura Kozuch, Illinois State Archaeological Survey
  • Josh Harris, University of Illinois Library
  • Sandra Fritz, Illinois State Library
  • Bill Kemp, McLean County Museum of History
  • Russell Lewis, Chicago History Museum
  • Teresa Martinez, Heritage Preservation
  • Patricia Miller, Illinois Heritage Association
  • Anke Voss, The Urbana Free Library

Special Thanks

  • Ian Batterham
  • Ryan Boatright
  • Jack Brighton
  • Alice Carver-Kubik
  • Mike Casey
  • Patrick Feaster
  • Josh Harris
  • Hannah Jellen
  • Jimi Jones
  • Dana Lamparello
  • Alyssa Marzolf
  • Chris Prom
  • Emily Purcell
  • James M. Reilly
  • Kyle Rimkus
  • Suhail Mohamed Yusuf Sheth
  • Sarah Stauderman
  • Anna White
  • Jamie Wittenberg
  • Penelope Yocum

The PSAP was developed by the University of Illinois Libraries through the generous support of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Image Credits

Images used across the PSAP are either licensed for use under Creative Commons or the public domain, or are otherwise property of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, cleared for use by the copyright holder(s), or are the intellectual property of the project. To view image captions—and their full license or restrictions info—expand image thumbnails or click the ⓘ symbol.

If you claim ownership of an image cited (correctly or incorrectly), and wish to dispute use in the application, contact the project team at psap@library.illinois.edu to discuss attribution or begin the process of removal.

Font Credits

Headings across the application are formatted in Montserrat, a font created by Julieta Ulanovsky, available under a SIL Open Font License.

PSAP uses the Font Awesome icon set by Dave Gandy, available under the SIL Open Font License 1.1.