September 1998 Volume 20 Number 3

President's Letter

John Griswold

While writing this, my last, President's Letter, I am more aware than ever of the contributions made by previous presidents to our organization. This happened because I have turned to the Presidents' Letters from previous years to gain inspiration for my own, and to make sure I'm not forgetting anything important. When I look back over my past year, it seems to have gone very smoothly, with no earth-shaking changes or improvements, aside from the growing maturity of our organization in its third decade. This is due in large part to the efforts made by previous boards, not the least of which is the re-writing of the bylaws and the improvements made to the structure of the board by adding members at large. Mine was the year that these improvements were fully in effect. The result is that the continuity provided by incumbent 2-year members, as well as the eternal guidance of Chris Stavroudis our Secretary /Treasurer, and by Carolyn Tallent our Newsletter Editor, have made my job much easier. I also have to say that in this day of e-mail communication, I have a renewed comprehension and respect for how difficult it must have been for past boards to feel like a cohesive working unit. Ours certainly is this year.

I am grateful to Members At Large Laura Downey, Cecily Grzywacz, Mitchell Hearns Bishop, and Linda Strauss, for helping with meeting planning and other tasks. Linda deserves extra thanks for taking on the job of formatting the Newsletter in HTML for publication online. Jill Sterrett has been a terrific Vice President. She has, along with membership committee members Sarah Melching and Diane Danielson, put together the slate of nominees for next year's V.P. and incoming board members. The new officers will be announced at the Annual Meeting.

You should already have received your registration packet for this year's Annual Meeting on Mt. Hood, Oregon. I am really looking forward to the retreat atmosphere. The setting will truly be beautiful, and historic Timberline Lodge will provide a warm setting. I need to give particular thanks to Claire Dean, who single-handedly has served as the local arrangements committee. She deserves much of the credit for the smooth planning process. Since the early registration figures are very encouraging, it looks like we will virtually take over the Lodge, and so we have not organized any formal receptions. Those of us staying at the Lodge have meals included, but the Banquet should still prove to be a stand-out event. Claire has organized some terrific live music for us.

This year's program is taking shape nicely. There are several sub-themes that are emerging of their own accord, plus a theme I first mentioned at last year's business meeting, and which has developed thanks to your responses to an informal survey (see the summary on page 3). In 1984 (or was it '85?) Jim Druzik and Chris Stavroudis gave a talk on computers in conservation; about 4 years ago, Walter Henry told us about a strange new world called the Internet.

Just think how far we have all come since those milestones. The gap between computer illiterate and computer nerd has shrunk significantly. But what are we all doing, exactly? How many of us are taking advantage of hardware and software that affects the way we do our job, the way we communicate, and the way we present ourselves to the world through our documentation, both text and imagery? Without turning this into a trade show or "techie fest", I wanted to have conservators talk about what they have found to be the most useful computer-related tools, and to share what they are doing or want to be doing.

Chris Stavroudis has agreed to give an update talk, revisiting many of the things they mentioned 15 years ago. Others are speaking about the state of digital documentation, and there are some database-related talks as well. This will all serve as a useful foundation for a special opportunity Jill Sterrett is working on for us next year to participate with the BAVC conference on electronic media in San Francisco.

While there will be plenty of treatment related talks, several on mountmaking issues and I hope one or two on the moving of collections and labs to new digs (pretty fancy digs, I must say), as well as some conservation science topics, I want to mention another topic of concern to all of us one way or the other: Certification. I feel it is important for our organization to have a forum to discuss the topic, outside of the structure of AIC and international organizations. I feel it is critical to talk about it with regard to the training of conservators, and the possibility of a structured pre-program curriculum with wide acceptance. I know this is difficult territory, but what better group to really have some open, productive discourse than our own.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve as your President; I remember my first WAAC meeting in 1977, when I wondered if I would ever be in a position to contribute much. I would encourage any of you to consider participating at whatever level feels comfortable. Pre-program people should always be encouraged to give presentations about what they are doing; and all members are invited to run for office. It really is a great and supportive organization, and we should all be proud.

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