This post was written by Ashley W. Greek from the Library of Congress.
Describe what you do at the Library of Congress and the materials you work with as part of your day to day activities.
As a Preservation Specialist in the Conservation Division, I am responsible for ordering the preservation housing supplies for the Library of Congress collections. Divisions use these supplies as they process collections. We test all the items that come into contact with the collections, ensuring that they are the best materials to protect the Library’s collections. I am also responsible for managing the supplies in storage that are kept in our logistics warehouse.
The different types of supplies that I order can vary greatly. The more traditional items include paper and cardstock folders, polyester sleeves, and boxes, but I also assist in creating custom housings. While the Library is known for its vast number of books, it is home to many more formats such as globes, paintings, musical instruments, artifacts, and much more! These different formats all need housing.
I enjoy seeing the Conservators and Preservation Specialists in action as they assess the collection items and figure out the best way to move forward with treatment or housing. One of my favorite projects was creating a long-term storage option to hold folk art rugs! I worked with Conservation staff and a vendor to design the right style and then worked to get a sample made and delivered.
I am also a member of the Preservation Emergency Response Team (PERT). This group is a team of 12-15 staff members that are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We respond to water leaks that occur within the main three historic Capitol Hill buildings as well as our offsite buildings.
Do you have a favorite item from the Library’s online collections? Why is it your favorite item?
Military history is a particular interest of mine, with my father, brother, grandparents and other family members all having served. I am drawn toward WWI and WWII collection items, and the Veterans History Project is full of intriguing items online that are great just to browse! I am fascinated with the ingenuity of soldiers who are able to communicate through the written word and the artistic ability of those who were in combat or POW situations during wartime. It is awe-inspiring when I think about the hardships the soldiers were under and the time they took to write about their daily life and their hopes and dreams once the war was over. One of my favorite things is to see is the journals of different soldiers; I can’t pick just one, but the ones who go into great detail with drawings are my favorites!
Share a time when an item from the Library’s collections sparked your curiosity.
The three-dimensional objects that come through the lab needing customized housings pique my curiosity the most – they can present real challenges because they come through the lab in all shapes and sizes. One such item was a large white board with writing on both sides. This was not just any white board: It had Carl Sagan’s outline to the movie Contact on it. The task was to rehouse it safely so the dry erase marker on the board would not come off while it was being stored. I purchased the materials needed to safely cover the written words on the board and then watched as the Specialist built the custom enclosure. Some of the most fascinating items in the Library’s collections are not always in book format.
Tell us about a memorable interaction with a K-12 teacher or student.
The Library hosts a ‘Bring your son or daughter to work day’ every year. Last year, I put all the kids that came to our division to work helping us replenish our PERKs (Preservation Emergency Response Kits), which are stationed all over the Library for the PERT team to use for an emergency response. The children counted and sorted the materials in the kits into three categories: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Collection Response Supplies, and Intellectual Control Information. Even with some complaining about being put to ‘work,’ most of them enjoyed it, and they got to see another aspect of what goes on where their parents work! To learn more about our PERT activities, check out this link.
What’s one thing you’d like to tell teachers about the Library?
There are so many opportunities for teachers to explore online using primary sources, all from their own classrooms or homes! The Library doesn’t just have books; it has a wide variety of materials that can be used remotely to showcase visual interpretations of topics being covered.
If you are interested in how to take care of your family treasures we have resources on the Preservation website.
If you get a chance, just take the time to explore!