Many people have personal experience with deteriorating family photographs or old letters. Libraries and museums have these problems on a larger scale.
A $40,000 grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services will enable the West Virginia University Libraries, in collaboration with the Huntington Museum of Art, to help the state’s libraries, art and historical museums and cultural heritage institutions identify their constraints and needs in caring for their collections.
“We need to be sure that future generations are able to see and use collections that are important to our history. This planning grant will be the first step in identifying the preservation needs in West Virginia, and working toward the right kinds of care,” said Frances O’Brien, dean of the WVU Libraries.
The WVU Libraries and the Huntington Museum of Art will work closely with consultants from LYRASIS and the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts. LYRASIS is the nation’s largest regional membership organization for libraries and information professionals. The center is the largest non-profit conservation and preservation facility in the nation.
The first stage of the project involves conducting a statewide survey of libraries, art and historical museums and cultural heritage institutions to determine the state of collections care and preservation planning. Assisting in the process will be Tom Clareson, senior consultant for new initiatives at LYRASIS and project manager for the grant, and Ingrid E. Bogel, executive director of the conservation center.
Next, a statewide focus group composed of representatives from archives, academic and public libraries, art museums and history museums and historic sites will work together to gain further information about the needs of the collecting community.
In the final stage, Clareson and Bogel will use the findings to produce a comprehensive preservation plan.
“The partnership between WVU Libraries and the Huntington Museum of Art puts this effort on stable ground and the consortium of institutions across the state that has been created will ensure good solid information for the survey,” said Margaret Mary Layne, the museum’s executive director.
“By working together on this project, we can create an environment where the treasures that are held dear by West Virginia will be cared for and available for generations to come,” she added.
Preservation is a concern nationwide. Layne cited a study from the museum institute that estimates that more than 190 million cultural objects throughout the United States are at risk. In addition, the Heritage Health Index survey found that 80 of museums, archives and libraries lack an emergency plan for their collections.
The Institute for Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture and knowledge, enhance learning and innovation and support professional development. To learn more about the institute, visit www.imls.gov.
To watch a video on preservation, visit http://www.imls.gov/Collections/about/video.htm .
CONTACT: Monte Maxwell, WVU Libraries