Do you have important family "stuff" that you would like to hand down to younger generations? Or, perhaps, even donate to the archives of the library?
Think a few minutes about your own family treasures. What type of "stuff" do you have at your home or office that you might like to hand down to a family member, dear friend, or cultural heritage institution? I'm sure that it will be a mix of books, personal letters or greeting cards and photographs. You might have vintage maps, clothing, paintings, furniture, or some decorative objects that you'd like to pass down. What about that VHS tape of Jenni's first dance recital or the home movie of Otto's piano concert? Would you like to share the richness of your family's story with others?
In 2005, "A Public Trust at Risk: The Heritage Health Index Report on the State of America's Collections," the first comprehensive national survey of the condition and preservation needs of the nation's collections, reported that more than 4.8 billion artifacts are held in public trust by more than 30,000 archives, historical societies, libraries, museums, scientific research collections and archaeological repositories in the United States. The results were shocking.
About 2.6 billion items were not protected by an emergency plan, and 1.3 billion of those items were at risk of being lost. An invigorated cultural heritage community sounded the alarm and began to improve the situation.
Locally, the Beaufort County Library advocated for the relocation of the Beaufort District Collection into a more appropriate space. Beaufort County government responded by funding the retrofit of the Paul Siegmund Meeting Room to national standards for archival collections and upgrading the roof to survive higher sustained wind forces.
The Friends of the Beaufort Library responded by leading the effort to fund high density movable storage shelving and purchased hurricane shutters. Individual citizens responded, too.
In other words, we got plenty of help in our quest towards being the best stewards we can of the treasures we hold in trust for the community.
The American Library Association and its partners started Preservation Week in 2010. Libraries all over the country will present events, activities, and resources that highlight what we can do, individually and together, to preserve our personal and shared collections. This year, the celebration runs today through Saturday.
The single most important thing that you can do to ensure that you have something worth handing down is to store your family treasures appropriately.
Here in the Beaufort District Collection, we will highlight preservation can-dos in our blog, Connections, at www.beaufortdistrictcollectionconnections.blogspot.com and on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/BDC.BCL.
We're also hosting an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute class to showcase the behind-the-scenes preservation activities we do here in the library's special collections and archives unit. The collection will hold a free workshop Saturday to teach 20 participants about basic practices and techniques to lengthen the life of their own family treasures. Registration is required. Call 843-255-6468 for details.
You just might be surprised how much can be done with just a little training, a plan, a small investment of time, and a few bucks!
Grace Morris Cordial is Beaufort District Collection manager of the Beaufort County Library System.