Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Assess, Prioritize and Manage

I recently attended the National Archives and Records Administration Preservation Conference in DC entitled Plan for Preservation: Assess, Prioritize and Manage. A pretty daunting title, and an impressive list of speakers, including the head of Collection Care at the UK archives, as well as the Archivist of the US, who was formerly the chief executive of the research libraries at The New York Public Library, Duke University's librarian and had worked for 31 years before that in the Massachusetts Institute of Technologies libraries. This bio in itself was interesting - former Archivists had been historians.

Topics that raised interest:
Do you perform mass deacidification to reduce the ongoing decay of organic matter, or do you fix the younger items first so you will have fewer problems in the future - along the lines of a stitch in time saves nine
Do you just deal with the paper and other artifacts you have, or should archivists also be concerned climate change, fossil fuel reduction, and the need to reduce CO2 emissions? (This raised issues that I believe WCFL should address for the Western Maryland Room in the new library, as well as the history room in George's Creek).
Should the Archives/history rooms be a cataloging agency or is their role to consider vulnerability of objects?

Useful to know organizations
EGOR - Environmental Guidelines, Opportunities and Risk
The Centre for Sustainable Heritage
Heritage Health Index

Besides issues like these, some statistics put me in my place -
Only 2% of government records are selected for permanent preservation at the National Archives.
The UK National Archives has 80 million documents on line
The Library of Congress has 12 million photographs and 4 photograph conservators

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