Pilette receives Banks-Harris Award

For Immediate Release
Tue, 03/01/2011

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CHICAGO - Roberta Pilette, director of the Preservation Department and chief preservation officer at Yale University Library, is the recipient of the 2011 Paul Banks and Carolyn Harris Preservation Award awarded annually by the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS) Preservation and Reformatting Section.  The award, consisting of $1,500 and a citation, sponsored by Preservation Technologies, L. P., recognizes the contribution of a professional preservation specialist who has been active in the field of preservation and/or conservation for library and/or archival materials.  The award will be presented on Sunday, June 26, at the ALCTS Awards Ceremony during the 2011 American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference in New Orleans.

Pilette’s impact on the preservation field as an active leader, educator and mentor has spanned more than 25 years.  She has worked in the largest and most influential preservation programs in the country, including Columbia University, New York Public Library (NYPL) and Yale University, as a conservator or program director.  In these roles she has developed programs and influenced the principles and practices of preservation in large institutions.  She has been a leader in professional associations, presenting papers and serving on numerous committees and discussion groups in ALCTS, the American Institute for Conservation and the International Federation of Library Associations, among others.  

Having served as a lecturer in the Columbia preservation program, she joined Paul Banks and Carolyn Harris in the transition and establishment of the program at the University of Texas.  After Harris’s death, Pilette and Banks became co-directors for 18 months.  Widely known and acknowledged for the training and mentoring she has provided in the field of preservation, she has trained a generation of preservation administrators and conservators who have gone on to hold important positions in the profession.  She continues to be a mentor, friend and colleague to her former students.

From 2005-07, she served on the IMLS grant funded NEDCC Advisory Committee for Preservation Education for 21st Century Librarians, which developed curriculum materials for an introductory preservation course used nationally.  More recently, she participated in discussions hosted by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, providing her insights into the future of library and archives conservation education.

Respected for her contribution to the preservation literature, her publications include “Book Conservation within Library Preservation,” Collection Management (31:1 & 2, 2007); “It Takes Two to Tango: A Conservator’s View of Curator/Conservator Relations,” Rare Books & Manuscript Librarianship (4:2, 1989); and "Preservation: Issues and Planning," for which she was a contributor and co-editor with Banks.  "Preservation: Issues and Planning" is still the cornerstone for the preservation field, serving as  the textbook for many preservation courses.

Beyond her far reaching influence in mentoring and training, she has made substantial contributions to the research, development, application and utilization of new preservation methods, techniques and routines.  Many of the disaster recovery concepts and protocols she developed while at Columbia University have become best practices in the library preservation world.  In 2003, she served on the Library of Congress Paper Strengthening Advisory Committee.  In 2005, she brought together key stakeholders from many institutions, including Harvard University, the Library of Congress and Yale University to research fire suppression systems in library high-density storage facilities.  Her recognition that library high-density storage systems are different enough to require a critical examination of fire suppression systems proved insightful and critical.

The Banks/ Harris Preservation Award honors the memories of Paul Banks and Carolyn Harris, early leaders in library preservation and teachers and mentors for many in the field of preservation.  This award is especially meaningful being that Pilette was not only a colleague of Banks and Harris but was their protégé.  The Banks/Harris Award is given each year by the Preservation and Reformatting Section of the ALCTS.

The Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS) is the national association for information providers who work in collections and technical services, such as acquisitions, cataloging, collection development, preservation and continuing resources in digital and print formats.

ALCTS is a division of the American Library Association.