May marks “National Preservation Month.” The purpose is to raise awareness of the importance of the conservation and preservation of precious historical artifacts and materials.
This was created by libraries, museums and archives to call attention to materials needing conservation or preservation, as well as promoting materials already preserved.
But this is not limited to large institutions — this can also apply to your family heirlooms. This can be making sure those photo albums are in acid-free pages, repairing torn photos or inserting your great-grandparents’ marriage certificate in an acid-free archival envelope.
If you’re looking for pointers on how to go about these tasks, your library can help.
While we’re on the subject of family history, you should check out Gordon Burgett’s book “Your Living Family Tree.” Burgett provides great tips on how to organize your collection of family photos and papers, but even more importantly, how to digitize them.
He suggests creating a “family treasure box” after scanning the items to be included and create a contents page that lists all the box’s contents. Scanners are relatively cheap and can be found in most stores that carry computer-related products.
You’ll also need storage for those scans, either on recordable CD’s (CD-R) or USB drives.
If you’re interested in restoring or preserving precious objects, such as on old book, or caring for old glass, these two guides are up your alley.
Mary Kerney Levenstein and Cordelia Frances Biddle give some excellent practical advice in their book, “Caring for Cherished Possessions: The Experts’ Guide to Cleaning, Preserving, and Protecting Your China, Silver, Furniture, Clothing, Paintings, and More.”
As you can tell by the title, this source is exhaustive, ranging from caring for glass objects to helpful advice on how best to hang paintings, and addressing the need for air circulation in between the item and the frame itself, as well as proper storage.
Albert Jackson and David Day’s book “Care and Repair of Antiques and Collectables” covers some of the same territory, but includes ivory, bone, copper and brass, as well as performing exacting tasks such as repairing gilding on a rim of a cup or bowl.
Both books discuss ways to repair and safely clean books.
In the same vein, Kenneth Lavender’s “Book Repair: A How to Do it Manual” details the many ways to repair a book from the spine/binding to torn pages or ones that have come loose.
Finally, if you would like to see how the professionals at the Library of Congress have preserved, restored and conserved our national heritage, be sure to seek out the DVD’s The Real National Treasure: An Inside Look at the Library of Congress” and “Saving the National Treasures: Preserving America’s Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, and The Bill of Rights.”
There are also online sources too: both Northeast Document Conservation Center https://www.nedcc.org/ and The Library of Congress https://www.loc.gov/preservation/ provide excellent information on preservation.
Your library is available online: www.mymanatee.org/library.
Speaking Volumes, written by Manatee County Public Library System staff members, is published each Sunday in the Bradenton Herald. David Breakfield is a reference librarian at the Downtown Central Library.