By DONNA URSCHEL
Donna Lewis has seven boxes of historical items from the days when her father was a special agent and personal driver of President Dwight Eisenhower.
"I want to preserve it all," said Ms. Lewis. "And I also have a steamer trunk of family recipes."
Anne Lane, a curatorial assistant at the Museum of York County in Rock Hill, S.C., will soon be starting an archives at the museum. "I used my vacation time to come here," she said.
Professionals and hobbyists alike flocked to the Library of Congress's second Preservation Awareness Workshop on April 15 to gather tips on how to handle, clean and store valuable collections.
"This is fabulous," said Jane Pearson, a member of the Fairfax Genealogical Society, who is putting together a reference notebook for the Fairfax City Regional Library. "We need to get this preservation message out."
"My own dear mother just used glue on scrapbook pages for family photos from the 1880s to the 1950s," Ms. Pearson winced.
The daylong workshop, which was free and open to the public, was co-sponsored by the Library's Center for the Book and the Preservation Directorate as part of the celebration of National Library Week. It was held in the sixth-floor Mumford Room and in two classrooms at the James Madison Building.
The workshop was divided into three segments: the lectures, the live demonstrations and the vendors.
"This is great the way it's organized," said Ms. Pearson. "We can get the guidelines in one room and then walk next door and see the stuff they're talking about and pick up the catalogs for ordering it all."
It was standing-room only for the five lectures presented by Library and University of Delaware experts on the care, handling and storage of paper and prints, books, photographs, film and sound recordings.
Participants learned two general rules: proper humidity and temperature are critical; and anything of value should never be stored in an attic (excessive heat) or a basement (humidity).
In the Library's Mumford Room, visitors saw demonstrations of the Library's preservation work: gold tooling, book sewing, photoduplication, matting and framing, the handling and maintaining of film and sound recordings, and the cleaning and storage of books.
These demonstrations provided good practical tips: do not use paper clips, pressure-sensitive tape, rubber bands or adhesive note paper in books; white erasers work better than pink erasers to remove marks or dirt from paper; dust off books with a brush or use a cheesecloth-covered nozzle of a vacuum cleaner.
Popular with the participants and quickly snapped up were the information handouts set out on the tables. They covered such topics as "Caring for Your Photographic Collections," "Record and Tape Care in a Nutshell" and "Family Papers: Tips for Long-Term Care."
Across the aisle were vendors of acid-free archival products. Document storage boxes, clam shell rare-book boxes, slide storage systems, photo albums, mylar photo corners, mylar envelopes and many other products were on display.
John Y. Cole, director of the Center for the Book at the Library, said everyone was very pleased with the workshop and the turnout was excellent. An attendance log recorded about 500 participants.
The Library's first workshop in 1996 -- the brainchild of Diane Nester Kresh, director for Preservation -- drew an equally large crowd, and the entire event took place in the Mumford Room. For 1997 the workshop space was expanded to include the classrooms.
"We got extra space this year and it looks like we're going to need even more space next year," said Ann Grossman, a Library employee, who was helping to direct the visitors.
Amparo Torres, coordinator of the event, hopes to expand the workshop's hours next year to give visitors a chance to attend all lectures and still have time for the demonstrations and displays.
Ms. Urschel is a Washington freelance writer.