Caring for Collections
Instructor: Beth Knazook
Dates: Not currently scheduled
Credits: 1.5 CEUs or 15 PDHs
Collections care is central to the work of any library, museum, or archive, but it is not always easy for collection managers to determine how to provide the best care in less-than-ideal circumstances. Compromises often need to be made, which might include storing items in rooms subject to seasonal temperature and humidity fluctuations, or allowing researchers to handle highly fragile materials. The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works describes these compromises as "the systematic mitigation of all risks to all strategically managed values of a collection." This means, essentially, that best practices are weighed against financial costs, the availability of resources, the desired use of collections, and the probable long-term effects of their choices to determine the best working solution with the least risk. The primary responsibility for a collections care professional is to make sure that these compromises are the result of careful assessment and decision-making, and are not allowed to happen merely through inaction or neglect.
This course aims to help participants evaluate and assess which ‘compromises' are right for them. Weekly activities and conversations will focus on identifying risk factors and agents of deterioration, optimizing existing resources and expertise, creating preservation environments, developing handling procedures, and preparing for disaster response and recovery. Special conversation topics on different material types will be determined by the needs of the class, and may include metals, plastics, textiles, photographs, or time-based media. Each of these topics will help participants to create the framework for a customized preservation plan. Although some experience with collections care would be helpful, no prior training is necessary to take this course.
- Interpret and apply the basic principles of collections care and preventive conservation to their own collections and circumstances
- Identify common agents of deterioration and implement techniques to avoid, mitigate, or block those agents
- Set short, medium, and long-term priorities for preservation action
- Develop the foundation of a customized preservation and disaster response plan
- Determine when to contact a conservation professional
Beth Knazook is an independent lecturer and preservation professional specializing in providing care and access to photographs and special media. She has taught classes on managing photograph collections for the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information, and on descriptive cataloguing standards for the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). She is currently pursuing a PhD at Queen’s University in Canada, where her research focuses on the introduction of photographic illustration into Canadian book publishing in the mid-nineteenth century. Prior to returning to school, she worked as the Curatorial Specialist for Ryerson University Library Special Collections and as the Photo Archivist for the Stratford Festival of Canada, and trained as a bookbinder with the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild. She holds an MA in Photographic Preservation and Collections Management from Ryerson University and the George Eastman Museum. Interview with Beth Knazook
This is an online class that is taught asynchronously, meaning that participants do the work on their own time as their schedules allow. The class does not meet together at any particular times, although the instructor may set up optional sychronous chat sessions. Instruction includes readings and assignments in one-week segments. Class participation is in an online forum environment.
Please contact us to arrange a special session of this class for a group of seven or more, with a negotiable discount, or to be notified when it is next scheduled.