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Subject: Unpaid positions

Unpaid positions

From: Mary E. Haude <mhaude>
Date: Friday, December 18, 1998
As a recent graduate of a conservation program, I want to respond to
the many submissions about unpaid/underpaid conservation positions.
Responding to Victoria Bunting's comments, Peggy Ellis mentioned
that three of the conservation programs are now including
managerial, administrative, and preventive conservation components
in their curricula. I assume the three conservation programs that
she is referring to are those at New York University, Buffalo State
College, and the University of Delaware. With Paul Banks' vision,
the program formerly at Columbia and now at the University of Texas
(UT) has always included preservation administration, management,
and preventive and collections conservation courses in its
curricula. By providing the students with extensive coursework in
preservation administration and institutional management, the
Columbia/UT program expects that its graduates will be equipped for
positions that are integral to the institutions they will work in.
Given the enormity of collections in institutions, the Columbia/UT
program has emphasized an overall collections approach in addition
to conservation treatment to ensure the preservation of whole

I graduated in August 1997 from the Preservation and Conservation
Studies program at the University of Texas at Austin. Two months
before I graduated I was offered a permanent position as paper
conservator at the Huntington Library. From the last three classes
that have graduated from UT, most of the graduates that want
conservation jobs have them. The UT graduates have such positions as
single item treatment conservators, collections conservators, and
preservation administrators, and all contribute to the preservation
of cultural property. Laurie Booth correctly points out that while
there are conservation positions at a variety of institutions (small
museums, historical societies, libraries, archives, regional
centers, and private conservation businesses), many graduates are
hesitant or unwilling to take positions in "undesirable" regions
and/or "lesser" institutions. This is a problem that all of the
programs, including faculty and students, will need to address.

In my current position at the Huntington Library, I spend 80-85% of
my time at the bench working on items if high value including
documents written in the hand of important historical and literary
figures, works of art on paper, photographs, and illuminated maps
and manuscripts. Even as a single item treatment conservator, my
training in preventive and collections conservation comes in to play
every day with every item(s) I am working on, regardless of the
value. While I enjoy benchwork, I feel it would be irresponsible of
me to ignore the preservation needs of the Huntington's collections
as a whole. In addition, it seems to me that every conservation
position has some administrative component, whether conservators
like it or not. Thus I believe that for conservators to do their
jobs effectively they must address issues of management,
preservation administration, and preventive and collections
conservation in addition to treatment.

Mary Elizabeth Haude

                  Conservation DistList Instance 12:54
                 Distributed: Friday, December 18, 1998
                       Message Id: cdl-12-54-005
Received on Friday, 18 December, 1998

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