The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 10, Number 3
Jun 1986

Training Gets International Attention

An April 11 to April 13, 1986, an international conference, entitled "The Teaching of Conservation and Preservation Management for Librarians, Archivists, and Information Scientists," was held at the Austrian National Library in Vienna. The conference was sponsored jointly by the Section on Library Schools and Other Training Aspects of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), the Committee for Education and Training of the International Federation for Documentation (FID), and the Committee for Professional Training of the International Council on Archives (ICA).

The program chairs, who organized the presentation of working papers, were Josephine Fang, at Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science, and Ann Russell, at Northeast Document Conservation Center. Edith Fischer, at the Austrian Ministry of Culture end Research, who is the current chair of the IFLA Section on Library Schools and Other Training Aspects, was the sponsor and local organizer. This conference followed an international conference on "Preservation of Library Materials," for directors of national libraries, April 7 to April 10, 1986, in Vienna.

The conference was attended by 55 individuals representing 40 different countries. Of these, 18 were directors of national libraries. UNESCO provided funds to enable a number of representatives of underdeveloped countries to attend. Participants came from the Philippines, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Morocco and many other Third World countries. In addition, there was a delegation of three individuals from the National Library of China. All papers were presented in English. For non-English speaking participants, translation was provided into French and German.

Speakers presented papers on the content of education and training programs [in library preservation], highlighting the special requirements for each discipline: librarians, archivists, and documentalists; the role of national libraries in providing conservation education for librarians; education and training needs for Third World countries; qualifications of teachers of conservation courses; and making conservation education a higher priority. In addition to the presentation of formal papers, there were ample opportunities for discussion, questions and informal reports. The conference organizers intend to publish the proceedings.

A highlight of the conference was the discussion of training needs of the Third World. Reports were presented by representatives from Nigeria, Philippines, India and China. Participants agreed that training should be provided not only through library schools but also on a continuing education basis for librarians already in the field. There was discussion of the concept of regional centers, which would provide training for librarians in several countries in one geographic area. Participants emphasized the need to tailor the training to local needs and resources, taking into account especially extremes in environmental conditions.

Another highlight of the conference was a tour of the facilities of the Austrian National Library. Otto Waechter, Conservator, conducted a tour of the restoration laboratory, where participants saw a fully operational system for mass deacidification and simultaneous strengthening of newspapers. Dr. Magda Strebl, General Director, showed participants the treasures of the Hall of State ("Prunksaal"), which is the rare book room, a visit to Klosterneuburg's famous library completed a full program of cultural activities.

Following an evaluation and summary at the end of the conference, participants developed resolutions for a plan of action and made the following recommendations to IFLA, FID, ICA and UNESCO:

To survey the status, worldwide, of preservation education in Library, Archival, Information Science Schools and other establishments, and to prepare a reference source for publication.

To develop "Guidelines for the Teaching of Preservation for Librarians, Archivists and Information Scientists," which can be applied internationally, under the auspices of the IFLA Section on Library Schools and Other Training Aspects and the IFLA Section on Conservation, in cooperation with the relevant bodies of FID and ICA.

5. To establish international exchanges of teachers and preservation experts to provide education and training opportunities in preservation for librarians, archivists and information scientists, especially in developing countries, at the appropriate level.

7. To recommend the inclusion of preservation into courses for Librarians, Archivists and Information Scientists.

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