Collection conservation in U.S. libraries has received a leg-up this year with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities for a series of five coordinated regional training projects for library conservation technicians. Emory University, the Amigos/BookLab/UT Austin coalition, and the universities of California (Berkeley), Utah, and Washington have taken the lead to offer in-service training to libraries in their respective regions, providing expert instructors and training facilities for the projects. This series of projects is the largest scale project of its kind to date. In all, 52 conservation technicians will be trained in this first iteration of the model.
This group of projects represents the culmination of several years of work supported by the NEH to develop more and better-trained staff to repair heavily used volumes in libraries of all types. The training model employs a combination of week-long sessions at the training site with intervals of practice at the home institution, and was first tested in a pilot training project in 1989 for conservation technicians at libraries of the University of California. Planning for the projects took place at the Training the Trainers conference at UC Berkeley in 1990, which was attended by 42 preservation administrators and collection conservators from some of the country's major preservation programs.
This series of projects breaks new ground in training design and grant preparation. The training model and training documentation were developed jointly, tailored to the needs and facilities of each region. It offers a contextualized introduction to collection conservation for libraries in a rational schedule of training. Training sites are professional conservation treatment labs. The basic text used in the training, Collection Conservation Training, supplies written instructions for the full range of collection conservation treatments as well as several variations on each treatment, giving trainees insight into possibilities for modification of treatments, and has been approved by a large group of professionals in the field of collection conservation. A standardized "fill-in-the-blanks" NEH grant proposal was created and used by all the lead institutions to reduce the overhead required in preparing individual grant applications.
The regional model permits local networking for future training and other preservation action among institutions with an interest in preservation, and is intended to develop local preservation expertise to address the ongoing need for training conservation technicians. This important series of projects lays a solid foundation for repeat offerings of conservation technician training, both in these regions and in others.
Participating institutions are:
For more information contact:
California & Hawaii Region: Lynn Jones, University of California, Berkeley
Southwest Region: Tom Clareson, AMIGOS Preservation Service
Northwest Region: Gary Menges, University of Washington
Southeast Region: Marcia Watt, Emory University
Mountain Plains Region: Randy Silverman, University of Utah