Fairfield University's DiMenna-Nyselius Library awarded conservation resources to help care for and preserve special collections and archives


Fairfield University has been awarded the Institute of Museum and Library Services' (IMLS) Connecting to Collections Bookshelf, an array of conservation resources advising librarians on how to care for special collections and archival materials. Fairfield's DiMenna-Nyselius Library was the only university library in Connecticut selected to receive the resources from the first round of applications. Most awards have been made to museums while about 25% have been presented to libraries.

The Bookshelf contents include conservation guidebooks, DVDs, and online resources that were selected by a blue ribbon panel of conservation experts. The IMLS, the primary source of federal support for the nation's 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums, awards the resources because they can profoundly impact the ability of small libraries and museums to care for their collections.

Elise Bochinski, access services and university archivist at the DiMenna-Nyselius Library, said that the resources from the Bookshelf will enhance the knowledge of librarians to preserve the University's archives and special collections of books, paper-based records, photographs, audiocassettes and videotapes, as well as an increasing number of DVDs and CDs. "The IMLS Bookshelf provides us with some informative resources for the ongoing care and maintenance of our collection. They will help teach us how to make certain that these materials are in safe shape for hundreds of years."

Joan Overfield, director of library services, said that the materials in the Bookshelf are a great resource for library staff to consult so that best practices are used. "When materials that document the history of the University are properly cared for, the materials can be used by future generations of researchers. As the University matures and grows in reputation, it becomes increasingly important to capture, preserve and promote Fairfield's history."

The Bookshelf focuses on collections typically found in art or history museums and in libraries' special collections, with an added selection of texts for zoos, aquaria, public gardens, and nature centers. It addresses such topics as the philosophy and ethics of collecting, collections management and planning, emergency preparedness, and culturally specific conservation issues.

For example, "IPI Media Storage Quick Reference" will be of great help as a reference when dealing with the ongoing care and maintenance of audio reel-to-reel tape, videotape, slides, and audio-cassettes, all of which need different types of treatment, according to Bochinski. "Preservation Management for Libraries, Archives and Museums" and "Promoting Preservation Awareness in Libraries" will provide the library staff with handy general reference resources regarding the ongoing management and preservation of rare materials. The "Field Guide to Emergency Response" will be helpful when reviewing library-wide emergency response plans, which include handling any damage to rare books and videos, and fragile paper-based materials.

The Bookshelf program is a crucial component of "Connecting to Collections: A Call to Action," a conservation initiative launched in 2006. IMLS, whose mission is to "create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas," began the initiative in response to a 2005 study by Heritage Preservation documenting the dire state of the nation's collections. The multi-faceted, multi-year initiative shines a nationwide spotlight on the needs of America's collections, especially those held by smaller institutions, and the importance of adequately caring for their collections.

IMLS and its cooperator, the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH), will award a total of 2,000 free sets of the IMLS Bookshelf by the end of 2008. The Bookshelf program was made possible with support from the Getty Foundation, the Henry Luce Foundation, and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on April 10, 2008

Vol. 40, No. 237