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Subject: Library conservation course in Australia

Library conservation course in Australia

From: Paul Wilson <p.wilson>
Date: Thursday, June 25, 1992
New Skills to Preserve our Documentary Heritage

The preservation of publications and documents vital to the functioning
of our society and to the cultural heritage of Australia and its
regional neighbours is the subject of a new course being initiated by
the University of New South Wales.

The Bachelor of Information Studies (Conservation) is the first course
in Australia to be specifically devoted to training specialist personnel
in the conservation of library and archive materials and in preservation

As our nation's written, printed and recorded information holdings grow
and change in character so do the challenges involved in ensuring
effective access to them as they deteriorate through age and use.  Much
of our information heritage is threatened because it has been recorded
on modern paper that is acidic.  Books and records become so brittle as
to be unusable within just two or three generations - a phenomenon
graphically described as "slow fires" in the United States where upwards
of a third of many academic and research library collections have
deteriorated beyond repair.  A considerable proportion of our historical
film holdings is also experiencing severe and irreversible chemical
decay through the interaction of unstable materials and unsuitable

Rapidly changing information technology also poses a range of
preservation concerns which require complex technical and managerial
responses.  Computer files present just one example - in some archives
computer tapes generated just 30 years ago can no longer be read because
either the hardware has been discarded, or because the tapes themselves
have degraded to such an extent that the data are unintelligible. Access
to data and our creative heritage on video tape and compact discs is
similarly in jeopardy.

In all cases it has become evident that solutions can only be found
through integrating scientific knowledge, technical skills and
managerial expertise in ways which address both the causes and effects
of information deterioration. Students undertaking the new course will
thus acquire an understanding of the chemical and physical principles
underlying the deterioration and preservation of information materials
ranging from books to electronic records, the technical skills and
systems needed to maintain and treat them, and the management of
preservation and exhibition programs.  Their studies will place their
work in its historical, intellectual, philosophical and ethical context.
An introduction to computing will also be an essential component of the

The course was developed with the assistance and encouragement of
leading figures in the field including

    Professor Guy Petherbridge, Preservation Policy Adviser at the
    Australian Archives, and formerly the Director of Conservation
    Education Programs at Columbia University, New York

    Dr. Jan Lyall, Director of Preservation Services at the National
    Library of Australia

    Mr Jeavons Baillie, Chief Conservator at the State Library of

The Bachelor of Information Studies (Conservation) will be available for
its first intake of students in 1993.

For further information, please contact:
Dr. Paul Wilson
School of Information, Library and Archive Studies
The University of NSW
PO Box 1 Kensington  NSW  2033
Tel: (02) 697 3438
Fax: (02) 313 7092

                   Conservation DistList Instance 6:6
                   Distributed: Sunday, June 28, 1992
                        Message Id: cdl-6-6-005
Received on Thursday, 25 June, 1992

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