For some time now a small, but steadily growing group of conservation people, both bench conservators and administrators, have been meeting on the nets to share technical information, news, rumor-control, etc. Although at stage the bulk of the group consists of book conservators in the US, there are a variety of specialties and nationalities represented. As the group grows, we expect a broader scope for the discussion will develop, especially in the area of preservation administration.
There are currently three main initiatives:
1) A directory of email addresses for conservation professionals is being put together. It is updated regularly and distributed via email. In order to receive the directory you must a) fill out a very short questionnaire so that I can add your address to the listing and b) send me a message via email, so that I can be sure that your address works. If you are interested in this please let me know and I will send you a questionnaire.
2) An online forum, known as the Cons DistList. This is issued as often as participants send in material to be distributed. Typical topics encompass queries and answers about technical issues, attempts to clear up rumors, announcements of things of interest to the participants, etc. It is extremely informal and geared toward quick dissemination/discussion, rather than carefully developed argument. We think of it as something along the lines of a conference call or passing around stacks of postcards, rather than as a publication. Back instances of the DistList; are available.
3) The FileList: This is a list of text files that are available by sending a message to this account (email@example.com). Topics include information on using the networks, preservation survey techniques, disaster planning, etc. This is a great way for you to pass around something you've written that you'd like to share, but that you don't have time to work up into something publishable (or a great chance to run your soon-to-be-submitted draft by your colleagues for friendly comments before the editor rips it to shreds). If you'd like a copy of the FileList let me know. [The FileList is no longer available; it is supplanted by Conservation OnLine --WH]
I hope you will join us in what has been a most enjoyable and fruitful experiment. The value of the networks increases as the community of users grows.
These activities are taking place on the Internet, a worldwide Network of Networks. If you are on one of the commercial networks, such as Compuserve, Genie, or MCIMail,
call or write and I will be happy to show you how to send and receive Internet mail.
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[Two topics discussed on email in June were photocopying and computer generation of barcodes, and the relative costs of buying a hardcover book vs. buying a softcover book and having it bound before use. -Ed.]