Tag Archives: Preservation at Large

Celebrating 10 Years of Preservation: 10 years, 10 People

This year marks the Preservation Department’s tenth year serving the Duke University Libraries. We are planning several events to mark the occasion which will include exhibits, an open house, and interviews with staff members.

We will start our staff interviews with our longest-serving team member Winston Atkins, Preservation Officer for the libraries. Winston came to Duke from NC State a decade ago and was tasked with starting the Preservation Department. You can also find this and other videos at our Duke University Libraries You Tube channel.

We would love to hear from you if you have favorite Preservation, Conservation or DPC story to share, or would just like to give us a shout out and let us know how we are doing. Contact me and I’ll compile them for a blog post later.

May Day S.O.S.

Heritage Preservation has for the past several years promoted May Day as the day to think about disaster preparedness in cultural institutions.

To honor May Day we offer resources for you to kick start your disaster plan and recovery efforts. Online disaster planning and recovery advice is everywhere but you need to be an informed consumer when looking at many of these sites. Here are a few that we find useful. Listing does not imply endorsement of any product or company.

Disaster Planning and Response

Council of State Archivists Pocket Response Plan

A free template for creating a folded plan with phone numbers and contact information. It folds down into a business card-sized document.

Northeast Document Conservation Center D-Plan
A free, online template that can be accessed 24/7 from anywhere. You can also print out the plan in case your power is out.

Heritage Preservation: Disaster Wheel and Field Guide to Emergency Response
The wheel is great to have on hand for first responders, especially if they may not be materials experts. The Field Guide is one of the best fill-in-the-blank plans you can have…easy to use, customizable and affordable.

Western Association for Art Conservation “Salvage Operations for Water Damaged Collections”
A classic how-to for several types of materials you may find in museums, libraries and archives. Originally issued in 1988 on water-proof paper, the update in 1997 includes more modern materials. You can always print it out on your own water-proof paper.

Other Resources

Lyrasis Disaster Resources

Includes information for families and personal papers.

Library of Congress Preservation Directorate Emergency Preparedness
Useful information, some of which is hard to find including recovery information should you be hit by a volcano eruption. Don’t say it can’t happen.

Conservation On Line Disaster Preparedness and Response
Loads of information geared towards the professional conservator and preservation administrator.

ProText React Pak and Rescube
Should disaster strike, you need supplies on hand. You can purchase a kit such as the React Pak, or create your own using this as a guide. Put your supplies together now before something happens, and be sure anyone can get to them in an emergency.

Confessions of a Conservation Librarian

Yesterday I said to myself, “Self, you haven’t backed up your computer files lately. Perhaps you should.” To whit I replied, “Meh, maybe after I download this software so I can stream videos.”

Of course my computer crashed this morning. I tried rebooting, rebooting again, and again. Nothing. All those files and images…perhaps they can be saved but my luck doesn’t normally run that way.

*Sigh* How many times during the semester do I tell my preservation students about the fragility of electronic media and documents? How many times in my professional life do I tell people that they really need to back up their files regularly because you don’t know when a problem will strike and you risk losing everything? I told you so…and I told myself so.

So, loyal readers, go to your computer right now and back up your files. Go. Now. I’ll wait for you to come back….there, don’t you feel better?

What’s In Your Disaster Kit?


A confluence of events including the upcoming May Day events, Preservation Week, this weekend’s weather and the subsequent adventure getting to work today prompted me to check the supplies in my personal disaster kit.

Good thing I did, the batteries for my flashlight are nearly dead, my old goggles have developed some weird oily/sticky film (those are not going near my eyes), and my respirator’s strap has broken. Those will all get replaced. I got a small first aid kit for Christmas, that would be a good addition. I also need to put a pocket disaster plan in there (Duke library staff can get one from the Preservation Department). And where did the pair of warm socks wander off to?

As we make our way towards hurricane season I’d like to remind everyone to check the supplies in both your personal kit and in your library’s disaster supply closet. Restock or replace what is missing or damaged now. Don’t wait until there’s a problem to find out your batteries are dead or your warm socks are missing.

Preservation Is Interdisciplinary

Academic research has become more and more interdisciplinary. Whether you are studying the Brain and Society, or you are Engineering World Health, it is not enough to stay in your ‘silo’ for four years and hope for the best. That is true for the Preservation Department as well.

We work across the Duke University Library system to preserve materials from all subject areas so they can be accessed by patrons on campus and around the world. We have worked on model airplanes and pink dragons from the Hartmen Center, football programs from the University Archives, Louisa Whitman letters to her son Walt Whitman from the Rare Book, Manuscript and Special Collection Library, and of course thousands of items from the circulating collections.

The Preservation Department is breaking new ground in the types of services it can provide for the Library. The newly named Verne and Tanya Roberts Conservation Lab has equipment that enables us to do conservation treatments on paper based materials such as books and manuscripts. With the equipment in the Digital Production Center we can now help provide easier access to non-print media such as photographs and moving images.* Our strong tradition of caring for paper-based materials has expanded to include providing access to collections through the digitization process. We take an interdisciplinary approach to our work so that you, our patrons, can do the same.

*See Duke Digital Collections for more online collections.