Thursday, February 5, 2009

Preservation Lab Updates

Wow - It seems the fast pace of the holidays kept up right on through January and is only now starting to slow. It's been a busy few months in the preservation lab and I want to share some of what has been happening.

State Library Awarded National Endowment for the Humanities Grant
In December the library was notified that we have been awarded a Preservation Assistance Grant to help support library staff training at the Preservation Management Institute at Rutgers University. As part of the coursework for this program a preservation survey and a disaster plan will be completed for the library. These documents will be central to guiding the work of the preservation lab over the next few years.

First Draft of Preservation Survey Complete
The end of January brought the completion of the first draft of a preservation survey of library collections and spaces. It was a great chance for me to really focus on big picture issues as well as small collections in need of care. The next step is integrating feedback from State Library staff and professors at the Preservation Management Institute into a final preservation plan that will outline collections care activities for the future along with a time line for accomplishment.

New Library Exhibit Posted
The last few weeks of January also involved preparation and fabrication of the library's newest exhibit, African Americans in the Massachusetts Legislature: A History. I highly recommend visiting this exhibit before it closes on May 15. The library was lucky enough to receive two interns who conducted the majority of the research for the exhibit, and as a result the information panels are quite rich in history and detail. Lewis Hayden, one of the legislators highlighted, has a remarkable story in which serving in the Massachusetts Legislature is only a footnote to all of the other amazing things he accomplished in his life. Be sure to visit the exhibit, located just outside of room 341, on your next visit to the State Library.

New Preservation Lab Intern
Though it feels nothing like spring, the spring semester has begun for colleges, and the preservation lab is happy to have another Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Studies student excited to learn preservation methods hands-on. Tina has already begun work on a small portion of a monumental project, so keep an eye out for her blog posts in the weeks to come.

Scrapbook Reorganization Project
A project that came out of the preservation survey was the need to reorganize and place in boxes some of the library's scrapbook collections. When Paige Roberts, Head of Special Collections, and I examined the stack area where the scrapbooks are housed it became clear that by reorganizing the scrapbooks and addressing a selection of gift books shelved nearby we could open up new shelf space for recently acquired manuscript collections. I enlisted Nick, our Northeastern University co-op student, to help with the project, and after several hours we had reorganized the shelving of scrapbooks, placed many books in archival boxes, and boxed up all the gift books to send upstairs to the Technical Services Department. A few more hours of rearranging shelves and giving all of the now-empty shelves a good cleaning yielded a new shelving area for up to 167 manuscript boxes. This new shelf space fills a crucial need and helps preserve the items, as some of our manuscript collections are currently shelved on tables with boxes stacked on top of one another.

Repairs in the Preservation Lab
Now that the bulk of the preservation survey and exhibit work is behind me, I can again focus on the items in the lab in need of repair. An interesting set of newsletters in need of repair were found in the stacks recently, so check back later this week for the full story on these neat items.

- Lacy Crews, Preservation Librarian