Library Hosts Stakeholders Meeting for Preservation Week

preservation week banner
mary chute, deputy director of library services, imls, welcomes stakeholders to the preservation week meeting.
Mary Chute, Deputy Director of Library Services, IMLS, welcomes stakeholders to the Preservation Week meeting. (Photo by Richard Herbert)

To save our cultural and information heritage for the users of the future, we need to make preservation a very widely shared priority. On November 6th, the Preservation Directorate hosted a meeting of key institutions, associations, and organizations to share ideas and inspiration for the nation’s first collections-focused Preservation Week. Scheduled for May 9–15, 2010, Preservation Week is a joint initiative of the Library of Congress, the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS) of the American Library Association, and the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The initiative will raise public awareness about preservation of personal, family, community, and public collections by connecting collectors to preservation information and expertise via local libraries and cultural heritage institutions.

Representatives of the American Association of Museums, American Association for State and Local History, National Historic Publications and Records Commission, Association of Research Libraries, Northeast Document Conservation Center, Heritage Preservation, and other major stakeholders gathered in the Whittall Pavilion for a lively discussion of how such diverse organizations can collaborate to ensure the success of this high-profile public information campaign in its inaugural year.

Preservation Week builds on many existing efforts. The National Trust for Historic Preservation fosters preservation of the built heritage with its highly respected Preservation Month. The Society of American Archivists highlights the importance of historic records through American Archives Month and Family History Day. Heritage Preservation’s May Day focuses on emergency preparedness and response for libraries, archives, museums, and communities. The American Institute for Conservation, the Regional Alliance for Preservation and its members, and many regional and local organizations provide outreach and education programs as well.

panelists discuss preservation week.
Deanna Marcum, Associate Librarian for Library Services, listens attentively to Nadine Gardner, Director of the Division for Preservation and Access, National Endowment for the Humanities. (l to r: Larry Reger of Heritage Preservation, Diane Vogt-O’Connor, Chief of Conservation, Nadine Gardner of NEH, Marsha Semmel of IMLS, Deanna Marcum, Associate Librarian for Library Services.) (Photo by Richard Herbert)

The goal of the meeting was to facilitate better communication and coordination among key organizations about their individual preservation outreach efforts and to garner their support for the new Preservation Week initiative. Preservation Week differs from existing efforts by focusing on the preservation of collections of all types held by the general public and by drawing connections between these privately held collections and those that our public institutions hold in trust.

Among those welcoming the group to the Library was Mary Chute, Deputy Director of Library Services at IMLS. She stressed the importance of increasing public awareness of preservation as part of a multi-faceted response to the findings of the Heritage Health Index, remarking on the closely aligned goals of IMLS’s successful Connecting to Collections campaign and the new Preservation Week initiative.

Deanna Marcum, Associate Librarian for Library Services, thanked those present for focusing on preservation at a time when preservation activities are diminishing financially in libraries across the country. She urged the group to help Preservation Week “put preservation on the agenda of those outside the field.”

In explaining how ALCTS came to support such a public service-oriented initiative, Charles Wilt, Executive Director of ALCTS, said, “PARS, through ALCTS, is the only group within ALA that is specifically delegated by ALA council to deal with preservation issues… there is just nobody else who has that same expertise, background, passion, so to me [Preservation Week] is a natural extension of what I’ve been trying to get ALCTS to do for a number of years, and that is push out what we do so more people understand that… we are far more public service oriented than most people think… We’re not behind a double-door that says employees only.”

wilt stanhope, motylewski, and van der reyden, share ideas.
Charles Wilt (seated), Executive Director of ALCTS, shares ideas with Charles Stanhope, Interim Acting Executive Director of FLICC, Karen Motylewski, Special Projects Liaison from IMLS to the Preservation Directorate, and Dianne van der Reyden, Director for Preservation. (Photo by Richard Herbert)

Following a discussion moderated by Karen Motylewski, Special Projects Liaison from IMLS to the Preservation Directorate, attendees toured the newly renovated Preservation Research and Testing Division laboratories with Dianne van der Reyden, Director for Preservation.