The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 8, Number 4
Jul 1984

Library Networks Get into Conservation

SOLINET to Head Regional Conservation Project

The Southeastern Library Network (SOLINET) has been awarded a grant of $168,401 by the National Endowment for the Humanities to establish a cooperative preservation program. With this NEH funding, SOLINET will help libraries and archives develop, strengthen, and coordinate their local conservation/preservation programs. The initial, two-year project will begin in October 1984 and be directed by a Preservation Administrator at SOLINET. It will serve institutions in the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

SOLINET's cooperative preservation program is designed to address the growing problem of deteriorating historical materials. It has become increasingly clear that simply storing documents in libraries and archives is not enough, for they remain susceptible to gradual but constant decay. Since the mid-1800s, most paper has been acid-based and inevitably becomes yellow and brittle. Improper storage and handling accelerates this natural deterioration, and disasters such as fire and flood pose further problems. Preservation programs offer ways of preventing or slowing this breakdown and of restoring books and documents that have already begun to deteriorate.

To help society retain its records in the best possible condition, the SOLINET preservation program has two primary objectives, according to Frank Grisham, SOLINET Executive Director. First, it will promote the development or enhancement of local preservation efforts by providing information, training, field service, and disaster assistance. Second, SOLINET will cooperate with other regional and national organizations in preservation activities. These preservation services will be available to all SOLINET members and to other organizations such as archives, historical societies, and museums through regular or Associate membership.

Planning the future directions of the program will be an important activity during the grant period. The SOLINET staff will study the feasibility of coordinating existing treatment services, will monitor new technologies such as mass deacidification and optical disk, and will seek additional funding sources for subsequent phases of the program. In these activities, SOLINET is being assisted by a Conservation Advisory Committee, whose members now include Dr. Lewis Bellardo (Kentucky Department for Library and Archives), Dr. Margaret Child (Smithsonian Institution Libraries), Ma. Pamela Darling (Columbia University and the Library of Congress), and Ms. Ann Russell (Northeast Document Conservation Center). Two additional appointments will be made soon.

The establishment of this new program indicates SOLINET's expanding sense of mission, says Grisham: "Up to now, most people have thought of SOLINET only as a provider of library automation services. But we realize it is just as important to preserve collections as to catalog them; if we neglect either of those responsibilities, information--and therefore knowledge--will be lost."

SOLINET, a non-profit membership network serving 439 libraries throughout the Southeast, developed and now supports a technical program that includes retrospective conversion, local online catalogs, and offline computer products. In addition, SOLINET brokers the products and services of OCLC and other vendors.

[This information was from a news release dated June 7. For more information call Lisa Fox, 404/892-0943.]

METRONET Helps Regional Conservation Effort

A broad-based group of concerned individuals has been meeting in Minneapolis to address issues of preservation and conservation of library and archival materials. The meetings have been organized through METRONET, the multi-type library system serving the seven-county metropolitan area. It includes representatives of public libraries, academic and research libraries, the state library agency and historical society and public and private service providers. A task force has begun research on regional conservation services and will present their findings at future meetings. For more information contact Mary Birmingham, METRONET, 228 Metro Square Building, 7th and Roberts Streets, St. Paul, MN 55101, (612) 224-4801. [from The New Library Scene, June 1984]

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