AIC 2010 Notes: “With Patience and Fortitude”

“With Patience and Fortitude: Keeping Conservation Relevant in a Changing Institution.”

Shelly Smith, Head of Conservation, The New York Public Library

Wed. May 12, 2010, 9:10-9:30am

Shelly Smith presented on the changes at NYPL that have happened over the past year. Organizational and staffing changes have caused them to reflect on where they fit in the institution. Organizationally, the Barbara Goldsmith Preservation Division was moved from Technical Services to Collections Strategy, which is the same division that the curatorial staff is in.

The conservation lab was moved to a new building in Queens, away from the collections under their care and away from the curatorial staff. This of course made them reconsider how they would maintain their working relationships and develop the new workflow, including how to move materials between the library and the lab safely and securely. This move was difficult and posed several challenges, but it was not without its advantages: the lab space has tripled and will provide a platform to explain how stewardship of the collections advances the library’s mission “to inspire lifelong learning, advance knowledge, and strengthen our communities.”

In light of their new location a more proactive outreach strategy has become important. They have contributed content to some of the library’s blogs to highlight their work and make the department more visible. Recently they created a video of their work aimed at educating school-aged children about conservation. They worked with the exhibits program to install this video as part of the installation, created a behind-the-scenes video,

The Conservation Program is focusing on their primary strategies to apply best practices, to acquire knowledge of the subject, to disseminate information, and to use conservation to further scholarship. The organizational and physical moves have given them the opportunity to re-commit themselves to these strategies and identify new ways to implement them and to help the library meet its mission.

An AIC blogger posted on this talk and the others in the same general session. You may want to head over there to look in on more of the talks. Oddly none of the AIC bloggers are linking out to resources, so get your links here first!


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