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by Donald G. eHERINGTON

The concept of collection care as we know it today was first propagated with the introduction of phased preservation activities at the Library of Congress in the early seventies. To explain this concept, let me recount some history to place it in perspective. Peter Waters and I were invited to the United States to
establish a state of the art conservation program at the Library of congress in 1970. I am sure we were chosen because of our experiences in Florence, Italy, at the Biblioteca Nazionzle after the flood of 1966.

Our initial training was very similar to countless other restorers throughout the world in that it was concentrated on single item treatments. To deal with over 300,000 books damaged by the flood required a whole different mind-set. The planning and methods that evolved from that experience became invaluable in
dealing with the massive problem encountered at the Library of Congress. The British team otherwise known as Anglo-Florentines consisted of the British Museum restoration lab, Roger Powell, Sydney Cockerell, Tony Cains, Chris Clarkson, Peter and myself. This group complemented by restorers from other countries made all this possible.

On arriving in the U.S., a major complication at the Library of Congress on top of the problem of just numbers was that thousands of items were deemed too brittle to use and practically impossible to restore and rebind. In many stack areas of the Library of Congress prior to the 1960's, the temperature exceeded 100 in the summer and in the winter, relative humidity was very low. These conditions existed until the late sixties, when air-conditioning was installed.

Peter and I both had a great interest in developing new methods and ideas to answer the complex question of what to do in trying to deal with massive numbers of items needing care and attention. The birth of the phased box was the first outcome of that methodology, which was to box a collection of vellum bound books and leather bindings of the 16th-18th centuries, numbering well over 8000 volumes. The condition was recorded on a card that also featured a photograph of the binding. This specification card was similar to what had been used in Florence. No treatment was given to these books. They were simply placed in this phased box. The next phase for its conservation treatment would eventually take place down the road. It actually happened about 6 years after. The rationale of course was that we could not treat individually these 8000 volumes, but we could at least retard the gradual deterioration of these bindings. The design of the phased box with the buttons and ties enabled us to put slight pressure on the vellum boards which over a period of time brought them back to a level plane.

This early success encouraged us to develop other techniques, one such technique was the concept of encapsulation using polyester film. This was considered a priority issue because we had to come up with an alternative to lamination, which was being practiced heavily at the Library when we arrived. Also, it was a wonderful solution for the problem of handling large, brittle and fragile items that could not be serviced to the users of the Library due to their condition. This idea also eliminated the time consuming practice of mending or lining weak and/or fragile items. These are just two ideas that set into motion the concepts of providing housing and protection for thousands of items without expending the time and money on specialized treatments.

The next few comments will also illustrate how collection care versus treatment decisions have convinced library and archive administration that the best use of their money is not always in treatments. The profilation of Preservation Administrators in libraries since the 1970's has also been a positive force in
the dramatically changing world of Library and Archive Preservation. The recognition of the important role the environment plays in Library and archives preservation endeavors has been singularly the most important factor in many of the collection care plans. Combine environmental improvements and extensive use of acid free- lignen free storage materials and you have the making of a first class program that is only looking at the immediate problem but is planning and acting for the long term.

The construction of clamshells or micro-climates, for want of a better word, and the use of more compatible sleeves for photographic materials have improved the housing and long term care of thousands of items. The control of exhibits in terms of length of exposure and better presentation of items (e.g. cradles in
controlled exhibit cases) all combine to help in this endeavor.

The role of microfilming continues to be played out as a preservation tool, though following close on its heels is the use of digital scanning stations in many libraries. These techniques for recording and reformatting text and images and the proliferation within the last few years of archival photocopying for
brittle materials has placed another weapon in the arsenal of the Preservation Administrator. The successes of this type of multifaceted approach to the preservation of our cultural heritage is coming to fruition and has spawned a new professionnal in the name of collection care conservator. This relatively new approach is very successful and will hopefully leave room for that rare species, a treatment conservator. The successes that we have experienced at ICI offering housing and treatment services to the library and archive community as at outsource avenue testifies that a certain amount of professional treatments will still be needed alongside the major flow of collection care. These two situations have illustrated to Library administrations that assuming these outside conservation labs are staffed by professional conservators, the economic paybacks is tremendous.

The development of the collection care conservator and the status given that position in an institution should not be underestimated. The collection care conservator should be a fully trained conservator with an open mind to all the possibilities out there that can answer the preservation needs of collections that
number in the millions. As one can imagine, the wrong decision taken on thousands of items could be a catastrophe. The training of this new professional will take an extra dimension other than pure treatment knowledge. We are now seeing in the U.S., advertisements in the library journals for this kind of

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