Monday, April 27, 2015

Preservation Week

Memories and treasures should last a lifetime and be passed on to future generations.  Preservation Week aims to inspire all of us to preserve personal, family and community collections of all kinds, as well as library, museum and archive collections. It raises awareness of the role libraries and other cultural institutions play in ongoing preservation.

You may not know the preservation story behind the Oscar winning movie “The King’s Speech” (2010)This movie about King George VI and his speech therapist depicts a stuttering King George (Colin Firth) who is supported by his unorthodox therapist Lionel Louge (Geoffrey Rush) in making a never-forgotten and faultless speech announcing the declaration of war on Nazi Germany in 1939.

A little-know fact about this great movie is that it was enriched by the discovery of Logue’s notebooks recording each therapy session. Hundreds of diary entries, letters, and other documents form the basis for the movie and a book The King’s Speech: How One Man Saved the British Monarchy, co-authored by Logue’s grandson, Mark, and published to coincide with the release of the film. These documents, long abandoned in an attic and perhaps close to being tossed as “just old papers,” were invaluable primary source material for the movie, the book and for future researchers.

Like these diaries there are countless treasures in attics, basements, and even libraries that, with preservation, will provide innumerable sources for future movies and books, and enrich our lives in infinite and unknown ways.

Libraries, archives, museum and others are dedicated to making sure that diaries, letters, recordings and all kinds of other materials continue to be preserved and shared widely. Here are some examples:

Voices of the Holocaust

In 1946 Dr. David P. Boder, a psychology professor from Chicago’s Illinois Institute of Technology, traveled to Europe to record the stories of Holocaust survivors in their own words. These recordings, over 90 hours of interviews, represent the earliest known oral histories of the holocaust and are available through this online archive.

Closer to home the A.K.Smiley Public Library is a beautiful example of building preservation. Built in 1898 the library is a California Historical Landmark and listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It houses the Heritage Room collecting and preserving documents, maps, oral histories and more, that chronicle the life of Redlands, the Inland Empire and all Southern California. 

The Center for American War Letters is a unique and extensive manuscript collection of previously unpublished letters from every American conflict, beginning with handwritten notes from the Revolutionary War and on up to emails sent from Iraq and Afghanistan.

At the University of Redlands both the Armacost Library Special Collections and the University Archives are working diligently to preserve the history of this institution and beyond. The Library has begun digitizing some of these collections (see Barney Childs) and both undergraduate ( Honors and Proudian Honors theses) and MSGIS graduate student work in our institutional repository called InSPIRe@Redlands.

Some interesting numbers around preservation efforts:
  •       80% of U.S. libraries, museums, and archives have no paid staff for collections care; 22% have no staff at all for this important function. 71% of institutions say they need additional training and expertise to care for their collections—11% report urgent need.
  •      40% of surveyed institutions have no funds allocated for preservation; only 13% have access to permanent (e.g. endowment) funds for preservation. 68% allocated less than $3,000 for preservation in the previous budget year. From the American Library Association found at:

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