Debra McKern currently serves as Acting Chief of the Prints and Photographs Division at the Library of Congress. In this position, she manages the acquisition, cataloging, preservation, and access for the Library's most valuable (platinum and gold) pictorial collections. The Prints and Photographs Division's preservation/security initiatives include implementation of recommendations following a KPMG risk assessment; planning and installation of a cold vault for platinum collections; establishment of a photo conservation program; and creation of digital surrogates for glass plate negatives and other vulnerable materials.
Ms. McKern came to the Library's Preservation Directorate in 1992 to establish a collections conservation program as part of the then Binding Office. She served as Chief of the reorganized Binding and Collections Care Division from 1993 to February 2000. She has been heavily involved in the Library's security efforts. Along with Doris Hamburg and Irene Schubert, Ms. McKern developed the preservation assessment matrix, one component of the Library's overall security plan. Also, she has been working closely with vendors to design lockable book trucks suitable both from a preservation and a security perspective.
Ms. McKern has worked in preservation positions in research libraries since 1977. Prior to coming to the Library of Congress, she was the Preservation Officer at Emory University, where she established the first library preservation program in the Southeast in 1985. She was also involved in establishing preservation programs in her previous positions at Indiana University (1983-85) and Southern Illinois University (1977-83). Educational background includes an MLS from Indiana University in 1984.
Ms. McKern has been active in professional organizations at the regional, national, and international level through lectures and committee work for groups such as ALA, RLG, ARL, ASERL, ASTM, NISO, SOLINET, and IFLA. She has taught graduate preservation courses as an adjunct professor at Emory University and Catholic University of America. In 1991-92 she lived in Cairo, Egypt, as a USIA Library Fellow where she conducted a preservation needs assessment for the National Library of Egypt.