The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 19, Number 3
Aug 1995


Global Perspectives on Preservation Education, by Michèle Valerie Cloonan, under the auspices of the IFLA PAC Core Programme. (IFLA Publications 69) Munich, New Providence, London, Paris: K.G. Saur, 1994. 109 pp. ISBN 3-509-21796-X. Permanent paper.

Reviewed by Ellen McCrady

This book was published right around the time that K.G. Saur was bought by Reed Reference Publishing (121 Chanlon Rd., New Providence, NJ 07974, 800/521-8110), so it may be possible to buy it through Reed as well. The price in dollars was not furnished with the review copy, but the German price is 68 marks.

The author gathered information for this book with the aid of interviews and questionnaires sent to educators, practitioners and researchers, consultants and funding agencies in fourteen countries. Preservation education in all settings was considered: library schools, professional associations, regional conservation centers, regional networks, large libraries and archives, and national libraries and archives; and all methods of disseminating information: face to face, print sources and electronic methods. Each respondent was asked what they saw as issues in the field, and what they proposed as solutions to the problems. Some of the problems identified were the closing of library schools in the U.S., the need to integrate preservation into all library courses and functions; the shortage of preservation information where it is needed (the virtual unavailability of RAMP studies is mentioned); and the need for preservation and conservation specialists to learn more about management.

American organizations and their programs are described in the chapter on "American Preservation Strategies," but for readers from other countries, the picture may not be very clear, because the organizations are not distinguished by type, and their role in preservation education is never made very clear. Some of them are national organizations with an agenda for action, others are professional, funding or utilities-based organizations, or regional treatment centers. This is all relevant because the type of organization determines the nature and potential of its educational programs.

Other chapters are headed "International Preservation Strategies," "The Preservation of Non-Book Formats: Implication for Education," "Resources for Preservation Education," "Research and Development," "The Dissemination of Information for Preservation Education," and "What IFLA Can Do." There is a 12-page bibliography (all English-language) without annotations, and an index.

Although this book was intended for an international audience, it maybe hard for readers to understand if English is not their native language. Some of the words are esoteric (panoply, emanates), or vague and hard to define (initiatives, strategies, scenarios, technologies). Some are ambiguous: the word "courses" is used on p. 25 to refer to short workshops, although in the U.S. the unmodified term usually refers to semester-length courses, and in England and the rest of Europe it means a course of study, often several years in length. The headings of sections do not always appear to relate to the content of that section. I suspect that IFLA did not provide an editor to catch these linguistic bumps in the road.

The topic of preservation education on the international scene deserves to be discussed in a larger context than this book provides, relating it to a) museum conservation and conservation research, b) electronic records and their role and future in preservation, beyond the obvious problem of how to preserve their physical form, c) the different approaches to preservation that are needed in different countries and climates, d) the nature of research that is appropriate for preservation and likely to provide a basis for development of the field, and e) educational principles and research that can help us use our limited resources in the future. This little book is an initial effort to describe the topic, but a comprehensive description has yet to be published.

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