FY2009 highlights included the treatment of two extraordinary primary source collections of African Americana: the Gladstone Collection of 19th century photos of notable African-Americans, and Color Town, a one-of-a kind 52-page album produced by Max Waldman around 1947 that dramatically illustrates daily life in a primarily African American community in Florida (altered by urban renewal in the 1960’s). A notable innovation occurred in response to President-elect Obama’s use during his inaugural of the Lincoln Bible: an innovated box was developed incorporating invisible water-proof shielding to protect the Bible against wet weather. Another innovation was a ground-breaking survey of AFC’s digital assets revealed the “readiness level” of that division’s digital management capabilities. A final highlight of the year was the completion of renovation work in Conservation Division's (CD) main laboratories, and Preservation Research and Testing's (PRTD) innovative new Optical Properties and Imaging lab, in time for a visit by the Library’s Congressional Caucus, as well as for a Technology Transfer meeting with colleagues from the FBI, DHS, Secret Service and other federal investigative agencies. Discoveries resulting from PRTD’s imaging work included finger prints and other distinguishing identifiers on Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
Outreach and Leadership: To educate and collaborate with library and information professionals, preservation staff developed 4 training initiatives covering funding, emergency preparedness, preservation education and research; 16 Topics in Preservation Series lectures, dozens of presentations and publications, and an RSS feed on Collections Preservation. A major highlight included consultation with National Library of Turkmenistan under the auspices of the State Department, whereby one of the Library’s senior book conservators helped plan treatments for the 15 highest value "national treasure" manuscripts in the National Manuscripts Institute of Turkmenistan and taught a week-long course at the National Library of Turkmenistan on basic conservation, with a focus on best practices for treating Near Eastern and Central Asian manuscripts. A second highlight resulted from filling the Preservation Education Specialist position, vacant for several years, to address Question Point queries, care and handling training, emergency training, TOPS programs, tours, and a myriad of there training initiatives, such as those described below.
To advance preservation science, staff developed and hosted the Summit on Research Technology Transfer (SORTT) for Cultural Heritage. The SORTT meeting brought scientists from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, US Secret Service, Customs, Immigration and Enforcement (Homeland Security), National Institute of Standards and Testing, Nassau County Police Department, US Army Criminal Investigations Laboratory, and Naval Surface Warfare Center. The focus was to discuss new technology that could be transferred to LOC for preservation research. The discussions focused on non-destructive analyses – mainly imaging techniques (including hyperspectral and thermal imaging), micro-analytical and forensic techniques for document, media and colorant analysis techniques, standardized protocols and procedures, lifetime predictive testing and scientific reference sample collections. Other agencies outlined the approach, analysis and housing of their reference sample databases including U.S. Secret Service’s inks and watermark libraries, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Laboratory searchable toners and printing inks library, the NIST reference collection, and FBI and Forensic fiber databases. The meeting participants had a range of complimentary techniques to supplement current PRTD research, requested collaboration for specific developments at the library (including spectral imaging) and offered personnel and laboratories as potential collaborators on scientific projects. In addition, scientists reported on LC’s 2008 Summit of Research Scientists (SORS) symposium at a Mellon-funded meeting focused on addressing collaborative research between cultural and academic institutions. Attendees included representatives from NSF, NEH, NIH, Kress and other funding bodies, addressing the need for more effective communication of cultural heritage research funding needs.
To train federal and other librarians, staff designed the first Preservation Summer Institute [PDF: 817 KB / 1 p.] , a cooperative 3-part program introducing participants to the theory of preservation through online classes developed by the Northeast Document Conservation Center, reinforced by week-long direct observation of theory put into practice by the Library’s preservation staff (who demonstrated prioritizing, treating, rehousing, displaying and controlling environments and emergency salvage of the Library’s collections), followed by tailored online courses produced by Lyrasis. Staff also developed the third of three disaster preparedness workshops for FLICC. The Safety Net III Workshop “Getting Your Feet Wet: Recovering Water-Damaged Collections” enhanced the Library’s network of regional responders to provide mutual assistance in salvage of collections in the event of a local disaster, training 43 participants from local federal and non-federal institutions. Topics covered risk assessment, site safety, prioritization, supplies, stabilization, resources, team formation, and hands-on recovery of water-damaged items. A follow-up meeting invited salvage vendors to outline their services and products for Library and FLICC members.
To spread preservation awareness to the general public, educational initiatives in support of “MayDay” (a day devoted to protecting cultural heritage from disasters) resulted in a guide and webinar. The guide diagrams escalating emergency scenarios (for collections repositories) ranging from presence of water and contaminants to lack of staff, electricity and other building infrastructure, in order to aid libraries, archives, and museums in evaluating their emergency planning. The scenarios can serve as the basis of 'table top', 'talk-through' or ‘walk-through’ rehearsals to help identify response challenges. The Webinar, on “Finding Funds to Conserve and Preserve Your Collections,” and presented through OCLC to 60 international librarians and archivists, described grant funding strategies and tactics, reviewed funding sources and tools, and provided an overview of the free downloadable publication “Foundation Grants for Preservation in Libraries, Archives, and Museums” archived at http://www.webjunction.org/processing-and-preservation/-/articles/content/ 58677385.
For general and professional audiences, the Directorate hosted 16 free “Topics in Preservation Series” (TOPS) programs, most at no cost to the Library, one of which was co-hosted with AMED. Seven talks were made viewable online. These include a presentation by the infamous Frank Abagnale (of Catch Me if You Can movie fame) on consulting with the FBI on forgeries; haptic virtual reality simulation for conservation training; digitizing the Archimedes palimpsest; preservation of intangible cultural heritage; daguerreotypes; collaborative conservation; and CAMEO, a free conservation and art materials encyclopedia online. Conservation staff also presented 7 lectures, on opening the ancient Gandhara Buddhist birch-bark scroll, Ethiopian bindings, Fabriano paper, iron gall ink treatments and protocols, lithography in the age of silent films, and treating a photo album from the second Anglo-Afghan War. Additional presentations covered mass deacidification, historic buildings, and 15 years of environmental assessment research by the Image Permanence Institute.
Staff contributed a dozen presentations and publications for numerous national and international venues, as well as hosted 18 public programs, and uploaded and redesigned dozens of webpages on emergency preparedness, and videos on science, and started an RSS feed on Collection Preservation Staff updated dozens of websites, including alerts on emergency preparedness, who to contact for guidance, where to go for supplies, and how to protect and salvage collections from earthquakes, fire, floods, hurricanes, mudslides, and tornados. Six presentations for AIC covered effects of sizing and watercolor pigments, longevity of CDs and DVDs, use of x-ray fluorescence and hyperspectral imaging to reveal “hidden” information, design of eco-friendly science labs, and the transfer of technology from industry to conservation, and 3 local and 5 international research presentations on natural fibers, hyperspectral imaging, customization of the Resource Description Framework, anoxic cases, and reduced energy consumption.
Staff contributed to over 22 publications. Scientists authored 16 publications (see http://www.loc.gov/preservation/Current-pubs.html) on topics including anoxic encasements; trace element fingerprinting with laser ablation-inductively coupled mass spectrometry; creating a composite cultural heritage artifact as a digital object; convergence of information technology, data and management (in the Library Quarterly); best practice/standards in environmental preservation [PDF: 1.2 MB / 11 p.]; and testing for volatile organic compounds [PDF: 22 KB / 4 p.] in books, papers and cellulose acetate laminated documents. Seminal publications by other staff included the second edition of “Foundation Grants for Preservation in Libraries, Archives, and Museums,” which lists 1,944 grants of $5,000 or more awarded by 488 foundations since 2004 to archives, museums and special, public, academic, research, and school libraries for preservation activities. This volume includes more audiovisual funding sources than earlier editions. It includes hotlinks to free online grant writing tutorials, a statistical analysis of grant funding, state-by-state descriptions of projects funded in preservation, indexes of recipients, and a list of all foundations that have donated to preservation. Staff also contributed to the new Archival and Special Collections Facilities: Guidelines for Archivists, Librarians, Architects, and Engineers published by SAA in August, with chapters on “Lighting” and contributed to the chapters on “Materials and Finishes,” “Building Site, and Archival Environments,” as well as to Appendices on “Prohibited Materials,” and the Glossary and Bibliography.
The Directorate issued dozens of RSS feeds on Collections Preservation, and staff updated dozens of websites, including alerts on emergency preparedness, who to contact for guidance, where to go for supplies, and how to protect and salvage collections from earthquakes, fire, floods, hurricanes, mudslides, and tornados.
To serve internal and external customers and partners, staff contributed to over 85 tours (of Preservation’s conservation, binding and collections care, mass deacidification, reformatting, and research and testing operations) to over 500 visitors, many from overseas, as well as a half dozen long and short-term collaborations with internal and external partners (on recent trends and developments in preservation). Notable tours included the LC Congressional Caucus Open House, featuring a conservation clinic, a slide show of preservation activities, and tours of new preservation laboratories and attended by nineteen Members of Congress, forty Congressional staff members and family members and the Librarian of Congress. As part of this Open House, a tour of PRTD Optical Properties Laboratory was held with presentations on hyperspectral imaging (HSI) and the environmental scanning electron microscope (ESEM) as well as other instruments. Notable collaborations were with ALA for a National Preservation Week, which will be held in March 2010; the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation on its strategic plan, and the Universities of Texas and of London on the future of training in preservation and science. Staff also met with representatives from the Mellon Foundation and conservators from across the nation for My Conservation Space to draft a set of functional requirements enabling conservation laboratories to manage digital conservation documentation in an open source environment. The proposed requirements cover acquisitions, analysis, condition check, damage and incident response, donor development, education and outreach, environmental monitoring, exhibition, in-situ work, inter-institutional collaboration, lab management, loans, managing and preserving documentation, packing and transport, photography, repatriation, research, survey, and treatment.