Happy Preservation Week! This week we celebrate and encourage preservation, especially the preservation of collections in libraries, archives, and museums.
The University of San Francisco, specifically Gleeson Library’s Special Collections & University Archives Department, is proud to be an institution that contributes to the preservation of artifacts and objects like photographs and multiple correspondences. The Donohue Rare Book room is home to 17,000 items including books, manuscripts, photographs, drawings, engravings, and other artworks.
The process of preservation is very important and worth the celebration this week and all year around. According to the American Library Association about 630 million pieces and items in collecting institutions require immediate attention and care. The unfortunate part of the situation is that 80% of these institutions have no paid staff that are specifically responsible for the care of these collections. This leaves about 22% of institutions who do not have any collections care workers. Which in turn leads to around 2.6 billion items not protected, and in cases of emergencies like natural disasters, these resources are left in jeopardy.
Gleeson Library is helping prevent these unfortunate circumstances from occuring by having a great University Archives and Special Collections department whose mission is to preserve and make available documents, ephemera, and records that is specific to USF’s history. USF’s Gleeson library also holds a variety of collections that do not only pertain to USF like the Women’s Suffrage Collection, Japanese Americans Confinements Sites, and the Governments Documents Collection.
In order to preserve our collections, our wonderful library staff uses the best preservation practices, including storing the materials in temperature controlled rooms, monitoring materials exposure to light and humidity, and using best handling practices.
For anyone that is interested in seeing these physical artifacts, please keep in mind these best preservation practices:
- Clean hands before handling anything!
- Use pencils only around rare books and archival materials
- Use gloves when handling photographs and film
- Limit exposure to sunlight
- Use acid-free paper for bookmarks, folders, and boxes
- Digitize fragile materials for reference and access
To celebrate this week we encourage you all to raise awareness on the need for preservation. One can also support Preservation Week by donating to the cause and by holding Preservation Week Events. Make sure to check out the ALCTS’ website that holds the information for all of the national Preservation Week events.
With that being said, the purpose of preserving the materials is not for longevity, but for their historical significance so that students can access and use the materials. Gleeson and the rest of the University keep our materials in good condition so that generations of researchers will also be able to access these historical materials.
Featured Books about Preservation:
Using Primary Sources – A great resource for professionals who teach about cultural heritage with original materials, since this book provides adaptable and easy-to-implement primary source literacy that will improve one’s teaching and further engage students.
Forging a future with a past – The comprehensive statewide historic preservation plan for California
Beneath the footnote – One of many guides on the use and preservation of American historical sources
Further Information and Resources:
Visit the University of San Francisco Archives webpage for more on the Archive’s mission and the kinds of materials that we preserve.
Visit the University of San Francisco Special Collections webpage for more information about our Special Collections (e.g Rare Book Collections, Manuscript Collections, and Printing and Graphic Arts Collection).
Visit the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services for more information on the history of the Preservation Week event
Visit the Society of American of American Archivists for more information about preservation awareness