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Library of Congress Celebrates Preservation Week with a Series of Webinars

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logo for preservation week
created by ALA

For those of you who don’t know, Preservation Week is an initiative of the American Library Association and it happens the last week of April, every year. It is a time for collecting institutions across the country to put on events that highlight the preservation work they do. These events provide insight to any topic from professional preservation practices such as
environmental monitoring or conservation, as well as smaller scale preservation projects like preserving family photographs and scrapbooks. So make sure you check in with your favorite local library, archive, or museum and see if they are offering programing this week.

Like many other institutions, the Library of Congress participates in Preservation Week every year. The Library’s mission statement is to “engage, inspire, and inform Congress and the American people with a universal and enduring source of knowledge and creativity.” That word ‘enduring’ means that the Preservation Directorate has a lot of work to do. Our goal is to preserve all 170 million+ items in our collection in perpetuity. It is complex work, and most of it happens in spaces that are not typically open to the public. We see Preservation Week as our opportunity to draw back the curtain and let you see what happens back stage. So this year we are presenting five webinars featuring some of the preservation work we have done this past year, across all four of our divisions.

conservator with tweezers, placing a mend
Senior conservator repairs 18th century record, similar to a “borrowing card.” It was once glued to the inside cover of a Yongle volume, showing how scholars in the 1770’s consulted the encyclopedia. Picture by Alan Haley

The pandemic has presented new problems and challenges for everyone, libraries included. Two of our webinars will talk about how the Preservation Directorate has contributed to research about safe handling best practices to reduce the risk of spreading the Corona virus and how these new standards have changed our workflows. The Preservation Research and Testing Division will talk about their collection of physical reference samples that replicate materials in the Library’s collection. These reference samples allow our scientists to both recreate and assess treatments, undergo destructive testing and accelerated aging, and use these results to correlate physical and non-invasive test methods. Another webinar will touch on the Librarian-in-Residence post-graduate program. This program works to give recent graduate students valuable skill, knowledge, and practical experience. And we will round our week out with two interesting projects from the Conservation Division, a look at some of our extraordinary examples of book designs from the late 19th and early 20th century and the conservation treatment of the Yongle Dadian, a Chinese encyclopedia manuscript from the 16th century. We would love it if you could join us, so visit our website to learn more about these webinars and to find the registration links.

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