Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Local Preservation Happenings

I'm looking forward to seeing friend and colleague Jeanne Drewes return to mid-Michigan in September. Jeanne was the Assistant Director for Preservation at Michigan State University Libraries (which is how I got to know her) and then moved on to become Chief of Bindings and Collection Care at the Library of Congress.

Jeanne is coming to town to lead the first session of a two-part workshop on Risk Management and Disaster Recovery through the Midwest Collaborative for Library Services. The first session is Sept. 10.

The evening before she is leading a public talk on Preserving Family Treasures at the Delta Township District Library. If you can't make 6 pm at the library, the event will be live streamed and made available for later viewing. And yes, yours truly will be part of the Q&A session. (I seldom have a conversation with Jeanne where the conversation doesn't end with me doing some new thing - like taking part in her presentation.)

I'm always happy to see preservation training events happening in and around mid-Michigan. And, I'm always happy to see Jeanne who has been a mentor, and is an amazing font of energy and activity.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Preservation is About Looking Forward

(As with many things on this blog – these are minimally processed thoughts. I’m throwing them up on the wall and seeing what sticks. They were initially triggered by a tweet I saw a while back which included the words something along the lines of “preservation is about looking back, art is about looking forward.”)

I chose those words as my title for this post Preservation is About Looking Forward for a few reasons: First because I believe they are true; Second, because I believe they are not true; Third, because I believe they need to be true.

Preservation is about looking forward = true.
Preservation is about taking objects and pushing them, sometimes kicking and screaming, into the future. The past is past and we can’t do anything to change the past. Preservation professionals make certain decisions and take certain actions to shape what types of resources future users will have access to, and therefore help shapes what the future will look like.

Preservation is about looking forward = not true.
Preservation is about looking toward and treasuring the past. Preservation is about old things and memories. Preservation is not about creating new things, but about keeping our heritage alive and not forgetting it. Preservation is not about new fads, but about past traditions. Preservation is about history.

Preservation is about looking forward = needs to be true.
Preservation needs to be about looking forward if it wants to become more, and not less, relevant. (And with relevance comes attention, and participation, and influence, and funding.) Preservation professionals need to see themselves as creative; generating new things, new contexts, new relationships which create new, future knowledge.

Preservation is about looking forward is not necessarily a call to change what we do, but perhaps a call to change how we think about what we do.

Or not.