Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Preservation in Small Libraries

The AP's Deanna Martin has filed a story about preservation efforts at small libraries and museums, highlighting the budgetary constraints these institutions face as they try to care for their collections. "More than 70 percent of the country's small libraries, museums and archives have conservation budgets of less than $3,000, according to a 2005 survey by Heritage Preservation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The survey found 270 million books, journals and newspapers, 189 million scientific specimens, 153 million photographs, 13.5 million historic objects and 4.7 million works of art in need of immediate care."

Preservation is challenging in museums and libraries of all sizes but can be more so for small public libraries, which often lack the temperature, light and humidity controls that archive storage requires." Installing UV filters, air handling units and other controls are important pieces of a preservation plan, but for some small libraries, even these steps are difficult to fund.

Conditions have improved since the 2005 report, said Anne Radice, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Millions of dollars in grants have been awarded to help fight deterioration, and Hurricane Katrina showed the need for emergency plans. But more work is necessary to ensure that key pieces of history don't disappear, she said. Katrina and Hurricane Rita damaged or destroyed 107 public libraries and their collections in Louisiana, and officials are still working to rebuild. Since 2005, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has given money to help refurbish and rebuild libraries on the Gulf Coast."