The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 9, Number 2
Apr 1985

Report From RBMS Midwinter

by Robert Milevski

Last issue's "Queries" column mentioned two ad hoc committees of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS) of the American Library Association (ALA ) which are of interest to conservators and preservation administrators: Conservators Collation and Curators/Conservators Relations (AN, Feb. 1985, p. 14). Two other RBMS ad hoc committees of interest are: Developing Guidelines for Loaning Special Collections Materials for Exhibitions and Developing Guidelines on the Selection of General Collection Materials for Transfer to Special Collections. The work of the latter committee is very near completion. At the ALA Midwinter meeting in Washington the committee studied suggested changes in the wording of its draft document, as well as other (and final) editorial changes. After approval by the RBMS Executive Committee a published draft will probably appear in College & Research Libraries News. The document breaks down a transfer program into three phases: identification of materials, physical processing, and record changes. "A successful program depends upon cooperation and coordination at every level of the library organization"--including the preservation department. Materials selection considerations are age, intrinsic characteristics and qualities, condition, and information about items from other sources. The document will be helpful to libraries with general collections containing materials "which, with time and changing circumstances, and regardless of intention, become rare.

The other RBMS committee met for the first time at ALA Midwinter. A number of topics were discussed for possible inclusion in guidelines for the loan of special collections materials for exhibition purposes. They were: the politics of loaning and when to lend; condition of object and conservation before shipment; proof of ownership; packing, insuring, and shipping; administration and paperwork; statement on reproduction of items while on loan; lending fees; and display installation, technique, and environment. There was a consensus that some museum practices in these areas would be transferable to libraries. Paul Banks will be working with the committee on drafting the guidelines. Its next meeting is tentatively scheduled at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago on Monday, July 8, 9:30-11:00 a.m.

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