Caring for Collections
Instructor: Lauren Buttle
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
Lauren Buttle is the Paper Conservator for the Royal British Columbia Museum and Archives in Victoria, BC. Lauren holds a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and Social Anthropology from York University and a Masters of Art Conservation from Queen’s University. Prior to joining the Royal BC Museum, Lauren held the Kress Fellowship in Papyrus Conservation at the Library for Trinity College Dublin. She has also worked and trained at several museums and archives in Canada as well as the British Museum.
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.