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Posted on April 30, 2021 at 10:44 AM by Melissa Dalton
This month has been quite full of archival and records awareness initiatives! This week, we celebrated Preservation Week, and tomorrow is MayDay. As such, these are great opportunities to think about the importance of preservation of your personal and professional records and materials.
Here are some astounding numbers to help illustrate why preservation is important. A 2005 comprehensive study conducted by Heritage Preservation concluded that 4.8 billion items are held in U.S. institutions. There are countless other items held in personal collections, be it photographs, letters, manuscripts, maps, textiles, books, and film, just to name a few. Of the 4.8 billion items, 630 million are at risk due to improper care (or lack of care). Additionally, 2.6 billion items are not protected by disaster preparedness plans. And, mind you, these estimates are from 2005, making them 16 years old. These numbers also do not fully appreciate digital objects, which experience growth exponentially.
You might be asking, what can I do now? All it takes is one thing, and there is nothing too small. Maybe you read about best practices and implement some into your current strategies. A great resource is the “Saving Your Stuff” sheet provided by the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS), which is a division of the American Library Association (ALA). These quick tips can guide you in protecting various media and materials, from audio, books, film, textiles, photos, and more! Even if it’s just relocating the materials to a more stable storage environment, it can make a huge difference in the life of the object.
Tomorrow is MayDay, so this also is a great time to consider disaster preparedness. Many think disaster preparedness only applies to our institutions and organizations, but it is important to think about personal collections, too! Are your collections stored in a safe location? If you had a water leak or flooding, are they at risk of damage? What about a fire? Considering all the possible scenarios can help you create a plan that will safeguard your personal collections from disaster.
Today we encourage you to do one thing to safeguard and preserve your personal collections. Check out the ALA website for webinars, tips, and other resources to guide you. And, if you have any questions, we are here to help!
Until Next Time!
ALA. (2021). About preservation week. http://www.ala.org/alcts/preservationweek/about.
ALA. (2015). Saving your stuff. http://www.ala.org/alcts/preservationweek/howto.
SAA. (2021). MayDay: Saving our archives. https://www2.archivists.org/initiatives/mayday-saving-our-archives.
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