Posted by: stackedfivehigh | September 20, 2011

Conference sessions – a month late

I’m finally going to blog about the Society of American Archivists Conference I attended in August. First up – Creative and Low-Cost Preservation Strategies in Practice. This session was really interesting. The speakers were all approaching different areas of preservation, and mentioned some useful tactics and ideas.

For physical preservation, one of the points that was reiterated was providing an appropriate environment. I know it seems obvious, but I’m glad they kept mentioning it. If your temperature and humidity are appropriate and consistent, half your work is done. For the other half – that’s when we try to find the cheapest options possible that will still get the job done. A few of the new ideas I heard included using unbleached muslin to wrap fragile books, the heaviest Mylar you can find instead of oversize folders, and shrink-wrap for books.

The use of Mylar in place of specialty folders was a brilliant idea, because not only is it cheaper, but it also protects the item. Instead of needing to pull it out of a folder, the transparent “folder” protects the structure and the record itself. The speaker said she found it to be most useful for maps, as the structure can often be unstable because of the size.

Using shrink-wrap to protect books seemed odd – and it does result in environmental waste – but it’s an interesting option. The cost to shrink-wrap a book was estimated to be between 15 and 18 cents. When the book is needed, the wrap is cut away. This method does use some heat, which needs to be considered for preservation.

Another part of the session discussed assessing the collection for preservation purposes. CALIPR software had been used but proved to be not quite suited for the archival collections. It did provide a foundation for a home-made random sampling system, which was put into use to assess the needs of the collection. The goal of “good enough” was emphasized here, as was the need to avoid item-level preservation.

Next time – “What ARMA can teach us beyond Records Management”

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