Preservation in Action: 2017 Annual Conference

The second annual Preservation in Action (PiA) event was held on Friday, June 23, 2017. The day-long preconference was sponsored by the American Library Association’s Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS) Preservation & Reformatting Section (PARS), and was held at Chicago’s Rebuild Foundation’s Stoney Island Arts Bank.

This program is based on the American Institute for Conservation’s “Angels” Program, which schedules a day before or after the annual meeting to work with volunteers in planning and carrying out a preservation task for a local cultural institution and its staff (whose members do not usually have training or experience in preservation and conservation).

ALA’s PiA, in addition to providing preservation services for conference host-city institutions, hopes to promote an understanding of the importance of preservation within the larger organization. Librarians, both with and without a preservation background, undertake a basic, well-defined project for a local library, arts group or historical society in cooperation with that institution’s staff members.

Members of the this year’s Preservation in Action Subcommittee included Katie Risseeuw, Preservation Librarian at Northwestern University; Miriam Centeno, Collections Care Coordinator, University of Illinois; Frances Harrell, Senior Preservation Specialist, Northeast Document Conservation Center; and Siobahn McKissic, Collections Care Graduate Assistant, University of Illinois. The day included an introduction to preservation for collections, an orientation to the Arts Bank and the items it houses, care and handling training, and instruction in the performance of hands-on protective actions. These included rehousing ephemera, photos, newspapers and objects.

The 2017 Preservation in Action began with an orientation to the Arts Bank and its collections. The participants were given instruction on care and handling of the materials and on the use of archival enclosures. Hands-on work involved two collections: The Frankie Knuckles Collection of vinyl record albums and the Edward J. Williams Collection. Many items from the first collection were rehoused in archival quality record sleeves. Handling and enclosing items from the second collection—which included ephemera, photographs, sheet music, magazines, letters, notebooks, pamphlets, newspapers and objects—occupied the greater part of the day. During lunch, participants also had an opportunity to meet and listen to Edward J. Williams, a retired Chicago banker, as he described the history of developing his collection.

Following the completion of the project, the Rebuild Foundation staff is hoping to engage in preservation planning, to develop community preservation sessions and to explore various preservation grant opportunities.

LBS/Archival Products of Des Moines, Iowa was the corporate sponsor for this year’s Preservation in Action. Bill Paxson, Division Manager, attended and participated in the event. The company supplied, among other items, archival binders, L-sleeves, Four Flap and exposed-spine Four Flap enclosures, document cases, various styles of boxes, acid-free file folders, protective sheets and photo protectors.

Reported by Ann C. Kearney