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Communicating the Value of Preservation - Summary

Ann Lindsey, Head of Conservation, The University of Chicago Library

The theme of this year’s project is communicating the importance of preservation to users and stakeholders. It is easy to think that most stakeholders in cultural institutions already understand this importance, but that may not always be the case. These articles discuss how vital this communication is. As a preservation professional, you might provide the first exposure to preservation for a student worker, facilities manager, or user. You may work with other staff or administrators who have a vague idea of preservation, but lack specifics. These articles address the various and vital stakeholders and how you can approach them to increase their knowledge of preservation activities and gain vital allies along the way.

Environmental Monitoring is fundamental to the overall health of collections. Paper based items react to their climates—heat, humidity, and light can be detrimental. In order to catch problems and make cases for improved conditions, data must be collected, interpreted, and saved. This article lists a number of data collection tools that can be implemented. Bonnie Parr, Historical Documents Conservator, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

Disaster Response. Four basic strategies to mitigate risk in a disaster are: evaluating your level of risk, establishing partnerships with service providers, developing a disaster plan, and training staff to use the plan. The article provides more information on these strategies and references where you can learn more. Jen Hunt Johnson, Special Collections Conservator, University of Notre Dame.

Working with Facilities. This fascinating case study shows how important the role of communication is to problem solving. Direct outreach can allow facilities managers to understand the importance of your mission in preserving collections. It might not solve persistent problems in the short run, but getting your facilities people on board can give you an ally in your corner. Anne Thomason, Archivist and Special Collections Librarian, Lake Forest College.

Staff Training. Ultimately, libraries benefit from training staff in basic preservation awareness. This could take the shape of teaching staff how to handle materials safely thereby reducing damage to collections, or by disaster response. This article discusses four levels of staff training based on job responsibilities and gives a list of online resources for training. Mary Burns, Special Collections Catalog Librarian, Northern Illinois University.

Student Worker Training. In many institutions student workers are the front line of the library. Training students to handle materials safely and identify materials in need is a value worth investing in. Similar to working with facilities managers, keeping students informed of their value helps libraries to achieve their goals. This article provides more information on how to train student workers. Melanie R. Schoenborn, Binding and Processing Manager, Book Conservator, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Digital Preservation Program. Most people can see the value in a digitization program, but communicating the resources needed for a robust program is more difficult. There are five aspects to a digital program: selection, capture, metadata, user interface, and long term data management. All of these processes are resource heavy and also integral to a robust program. This article provides more information and resources on these five aspects. Ann Lindsey, Head of Conservation, The University of Chicago Library.

Users and Stakeholders. Because library materials are a shared resource, there is great importance in raising preservation awareness in users and stakeholders. One method of raising awareness is policy, what the users can and can’t do, should and shouldn’t do, in order to extend the life of library materials. Another way to engage users and stakeholders is through outreach activities. Exhibits, tutorials, and social media posts can address policies such as safe handling or food and drink policies or showcase preservation or conservation activities. Meghan Ryan, Special Collections and Digital Initiatives Specialist, National Louis University.

Last Copy. This article explores the tension between the desire to preserve items and the need for space. Rarity is one facet of decision making, and OCLC World Cat can help determine how rarely held and item is. If a resource is held by only one library in Illinois, it is considered a last copy and should be retained. Being a member of CARLI can assist member institutions by providing an option to donate last copy resources to other consortium members. Information on donating these resources can be found on the CARLI webpage. Susan Howell, Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Preservation Elevator Speech. This is a guide to working Preservation into an “elevator speech.” If you only have a fortuitous moment or two with a sympathetic administrator, this can give you some ideas about how to use that time! Jamie Nelson, Head of Special Collections and Archives, DePaul University.

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