Better Standards or Better Stories

Kevin over at Library Preservation 2 has written an interesting post about sharing conservation stories. Kevin writes:

I am going to boldly suggest that we don’t need better standards, we need better stories. We need to hear more honest stories of conservators doing their work – what they did, how they made decisions, what worked, what didn’t. Telling good stories means telling honest stories which involves being vulnerable and telling stories of things you did for which you might be ashamed to tell your professional colleagues. (We all have those stories.) We really need to hear and tell stories of failure. Nothing will help us remember to test the ink before washing the paper like a really good story of someone ignoring that step to devastating effect.

Of course, we also need to hear good stories of success. We need to hear the stories of seasoned pros, and of enthusiastic novices. I remember at a small preservation conference that I helped coordinate – our after dinner speaker was James Craven, head of conservation at the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan and the godfather of library conservation in Michigan. With his dry wit, curmudgeonly charm, and many, many slides he told a couple stories of items he had worked on. Nobody left the room without having a better idea of how a good conservator goes about the business of conserving.

I think Kevin is hitting on the core of how we learn our craft, by witnessing the best of the best, but also witnessing how the best recover from mistakes. We don’t like to admit our mistakes, or can’t for fear of client retribution. Is there a way we can have both admission and a teaching moment? Read Kevin’s post Standards or Stories.

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2 Responses

  1. […] by derryandraphoe I came across this blog post by Kevin Driedger thanks to another blog called PCAN. Kevin’s post discusses the emphasis on standards in conservation. He suggests that a set of […]

  2. A few dicussion links and published materials that relate to this topic:

    Critical Issues in Art Conservation Blog
    http://criticalissuesinartconservation.blogspot.com/2010_03_01_archive.html

    Theory and Practice in the Conservation of Modern and Contemporary Art: Reflections on the Roots and the Perspectives
    http://www.archetype.co.uk/publication-details.php?id=9

    ‘Conservation: Principles, Dilemmas, and Uncomfortable Truths’ http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/bookdescription.cws_home/719278/description#description

    Museum Musings blog:
    http://bickersteth.blogspot.com/2010/04/contemporary-art-and-conservation.html

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