About Preservation Week
In 2005 the first comprehensive national survey of the condition and preservation needs of the nation’s collections reported that U.S. institutions hold more than 4.8 billion items. Libraries alone hold 3 billion items (63 percent of the whole). A treasure trove of uncounted additional items is held by individuals, families, and communities. These collections include books, manuscripts, photographs, prints and drawings, and objects such as maps, textiles, paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, and furniture, to give just a sample. They include moving images and sound recordings that capture performing arts, oral history, and other records of our creativity and history. Digital collections are growing fast, and their formats quickly become obsolescent, if not obsolete.
The Importance of Preservation Awareness:
Some 630 million items in collecting institutions require immediate attention and care. Eighty percent of these institutions have no paid staff assigned responsibility for collections care; 22 percent have no collections care personnel at all. Some 2.6 billion items are not protected by an emergency plan. As natural disasters of recent years have taught us, these resources are in jeopardy should a disaster strike. Personal, family, and community collections are equally at risk.
ALA encourages libraries and other institutions to use Preservation Week to connect our communities through events, activities, and resources that highlight what we can do, individually and together, to preserve our personal and shared collections.
The Library of Congress offers free public programs to share basic preservation information and practical advice for caring for personal collections, and to raise awareness of preservation issues for both family heirlooms and for our communal cultural heritage. Most occur during the American Library Association’s Preservation Week (annually, in the springtime) and during the Library’s National Book Festival (annually, at the end of summer) and are varied to cover different types of materials, such as books, paper, photographs, and digital files.
Preservation Week at the Library of Congress
Every spring, libraries all across the U.S. celebrate Preservation Week, an initiative launched by the Library of Congress, Institute of Library and Museum Services, American Library Association, American Institute for Conservation, Society of American Archivists, and Heritage Preservation to highlight what we can do, individually and together, to preserve our personal and shared collections.
Preservation Week 2016 (April 24-30). The Library of Congress commemorates the 50th anniversary of the 1966 Florence Flood, which brought national and international attention to the fields of book conservation and emergency preparedness:
- Special documentary film screening: Florence: Days of Destruction (Italian title, Per Firenze), by Franco Zeffirelli
- TOPS lecture: Emergency Management since the Florence Flood — Federal Programs and Initiatives (Andrew Robb, Head of Special Formats Section, Conservation Division, Library of Congress
Preservation for K-12:
Occasionally, preservation staff from the Library participate in local K-12 programs, such as career day, National Reading Month, and other school, library, reading, and science initiatives.