What is Preservation Week?

(PDF Version)

In 2004 Heritage Preservation carried out the first national survey, the Heritage Health Index, to document collections preservation needs in libraries, museums, and archives. That survey showed that roughly 1.3 billion items need treatment to reduce the risk and rate of damage. The condition of 30 percent of items across every type of collection is unknown. No one knows of preservation needs in the collections of individuals, families, and community organizations, which were not surveyed. Even when condition is known, our cultural and information heritage, especially in digital collections, continues to be at risk.

Recognizing this need, ALA and its Association for Library Collections and Technical Services inaugurated national collections Preservation Week, May 9-15, 2010, along with national partners that include the Library of Congress, Institute of Library and Museum Services, American Institute for Conservation, Society of American Archivists, and Heritage Preservation.

Preservation @ your Library: Pass it On! is your opportunity to inspire action to preserve collections—in libraries, archives, and museums, of course, but especially the items held and loved by individuals, families, and communities. Preservation Week activities will also raise awareness of the role libraries and other cultural institutions play in providing sound preservation information.

Individually and as community partners, libraries, museums, and archives are encouraged to do at least one thing, even if it’s small, to celebrate Preservation Week. Host a program, event, or display; put a banner on your Web site; provide tip sheets from the Preservation Week web site; talk to your policy makers and resource allocators about your community’s preservation needs. focus our combined attention and energy on preserving our information and cultural heritage in all collections.

For ideas and information, see the following collaborator Web sites for preservation information and resources you can use to celebrate Preservation Week:

ALCTS Preservation Week: includes a Speakers Bureau, tip sheets, links to basic and extensive preservation information, and information about programs to be offered during Preservation Week. It will be complemented by ALA Preservation Week@Your Library web page for the general public.

American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works: Caring for Your Treasures. Guidance for care of common categories of collections, printable as handsome two-sided 8.5 x 11” broadsides.

Heritage Preservation: Heritage Health Index and The Caring Books and Downloadable Documents. These provide valuable preservation information, with extremely useful information about responding to sudden emergencies in collections.

Institute of Museum and Library Services, Connecting to Collections Links to online resources, grouped by category, and a bibliography of collections care titles distributed as a bookshelf to more than 2,500 local libraries and museums. Includes hard-to-find categories like audio-visual and digital materials. Information includes video and news about IMLS’s national conservation initiative.

Library of Congress:

Society of American Archivists, Selected Links to Preservation Web Sites. Links to a wide variety of web sites with preservation information useful to archivists and archives, among others.

Memories and treasures should last a lifetime and be passed on to future generations. President Obama once wrote, “Part of America's genius has always been its ability to absorb newcomers, to forge a national identity out of the disparate lot that arrived on our shores.” The memories and treasures of individuals, families, and communities are essential to our record of this process—they contribute to our understanding of history and its participants just as collections in libraries, museums, and archives do.