The problems of keeping, organizing and storing old family photographs, important papers or special books that are fading, yellowing and growing ever more fragile are common to individuals as well as to libraries and museums around the world.
On April 13, the Library of Congress held its fourth annual free workshop to help the public learn more about handling, cleaning, preserving 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's Preservation Directorate decided to make the workshop an annual event.
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 were there to answer questions and offer other information on preservation products and issues.
For the second year, Allan J. Stypeck, host of the popular National Public Radio show "The Book Guys," was on hand to appraise (free of charge) old books, prints, photographs, manuscripts and sound recordings.
In addition, professional conservators, members of the American Institute for Conservation, were available to assess the condition of personal books, documents and photographs and to offer specific conservation treatment options and storage advice. Co-sponsored by the Library's Center for the Book and the Preservation Directorate, the workshop was part of the Library's celebration of National Library Week.
Throughout the day, visitors saw demonstrations of gold tooling, paper mending, book sewing, materials testing and matting and hinging of works of art on paper. Library staff at table displays answered questions as well as provided printed information on the handling, cleaning and storage of books, papers and documents, fine prints, photographs, CDs, sound recordings and motion picture film. Slide presentations focused on some of the factors that place personal collections at risk.