If you're like most people, you probably have old family photographs, important papers, special books in your home that are fading, yellowing and growing ever more fragile -- but you don't know what to do to conserve them. The Library of Congress Preservation Directorate is holding its second annual workshop to help you learn more about handling, cleaning and storing these valuable materials.
The first preservation awareness workshop, held in 1996, proved so successful, with more than 600 people in attendance, that the Library decided to make the workshop an annual event. Once again, the general public will have an opportunity to view demonstrations and gather information from conservators and other specialists at the Library on April 15, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The daylong free event will take place in the Mumford Room, sixth floor of the Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S. E. Co-sponsored by the Library's Center for the Book and the Preservation Directorate, the workshop is part of the celebration of National Library Week.
Throughout the day, visitors will be able to see live demonstrations of gold tooling, paper mending, book sewing, materials testing, and matting and hinging of works of art on paper. Table displays, manned by Library staff, will provide answers to your questions and printed information on the handling, cleaning and storage of books, papers and documents, fine prints, photographs, CDs, sound recordings and motion picture film.
Last year, for example, the participants learned that storing family documents and photographs at the proper humidity and temperature is critical and that anything of value should never be stored in an attic or a basement. Many attendees also learned that photographs should never be housed in magnetic albums.
In addition to the Library's professional conservation and curatorial staff, representatives of nonprofit professional associations in the preservation field as well as companies that manufacture and distribute conservation products will be on hand to answer questions and offer other information on preservation products and issues.
The emphasis of the workshop will be on the preservation and storage of books, paper, newspaper, magnetic media and film; there will be no provision for evaluation services. Persons who have old books or rare prints whose worth they would like to have assessed should consult with a reputable rare book or print dealer.
The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world. It contains 111 million items that include more than 17 million books, 4 million maps, 13.5 million visual materials, 2 million sound recordings and 47 million manuscripts. The mission of the Library's Preservation Directorate is to preserve these collections for future generations. Founded in 1972, the preservation program has trained innumerable distinguished scientists, conservators and other experts in the preservation field; the program is also open to interns from all over the world, who learn while working with the Library's professional staff. Many of the methods developed at the Library have become standard procedures in libraries and archives worldwide.
The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress was established in 1977 to stimulate public interest in books, reading and libraries and to encourage the study of the book as an artifact, art form and means of communication. Its projects are supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations.