By CAROLE ZIMMERMAN
The Library's Preservation Directorate and the Center for the Book sponsored the fifth annual Preservation Awareness Workshop on Oct. 19.
"The purpose of this annual event," said Mark Roosa, director for Preservation, "is to share useful information with the public about how to best care for their personal treasures."
Attendees included a wide range of people, from professional librarians and genealogists to "family archivists," all sharing the common need of learning how to care for items of importance. Appropriately, the activities took place in recently restored rooms of the Jefferson Building.
The workshop offered demonstrations of conservation techniques such as gold tooling on leather and hand book sewing. Also featured was a display from the Preservation Research and Testing Division showing the development of a new accelerated aging test for paper. The greatest emphasis, however, was on preservation and preventive conservation, as reflected by the many tables with staff discussing displays on the proper care, handling and environment for books, prints, paper, photographs, audiovisual materials and sound recordings. Staff were also on hand to explain emergency preparedness, matting and framing of pictures and the use of photocopiers not harmful to books.
New to the workshop this year and of considerable interest to attendees was the table on environment. Using a computer tool called a "preservation calculator," developed by the Image Permanence Institute, one could enter the RH (relative humidity) and temperature of a room and see the potential for mold growth and aging of organic material such as paper. The instrument allowed the user to manipulate these factors to observe how even minute changes could significantly affect the life span of an item. Also popular with attendees was the information provided on caring for photographs. The most frequent recommendations given were to use nonadhesive albums such as those with polyethylene pockets and to identify family members in photographs.
A repeat attraction was the appearance of Allan Stypeck and Mike Cuthbert, hosts of the popular public radio program "The Book Guys," who provided free appraisals of books, photographs, prints and other materials. Conservators from the American Institute for Conservation were available to assess the condition of books, papers, photographs and other items and offer conservation options and storage advice. Manufacturers and distributors of preservation supplies displayed materials available to the nonprofessional. Throughout the day the film "Into the Future," which examines preservation in the electronic age, was available for viewing.
The Coolidge Auditorium was the site of continuous lectures on caring for books, paper collections, photographs, records and tapes, and home movies and videos. Members of the audience were given the opportunity for questions and answers.
With each annual workshop, the Preservation Directorate and the Center for the Book strive to reach out to new interest groups in their continual effort to provide preservation information. This year's workshop once again proved to be a successful means of achieving this goal.
Ms. Zimmerman is a librarian in the Preservation Directorate.