April 25 through May 1 is Preservation Week. An initiative of the American Library Association-Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALA-ALCTS), Preservation Week is a time when institutions across the country highlight at-risk collections and share knowledge about the work of caring for these collections and making them accessible. At Emory Libraries, activities currently underway or recently completed by Preservation and Digitization Services include:
- annual updating of emergency preparedness and disaster response documents for all Emory University Libraries and the Library Service Center
- removing stains from an incunable, an early printed book dating before 1500, at the Pitts Theology Library
- constructing custom-fit protective enclosures for rare books from the Kessler Collection at Pitts Library
- mending, providing tape removal treatment, and preparing a custom wrapper for a collection of softback convention serials from Rose Library
- preservation of exhibition material on display in the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Library’s Calhoun Room
- digitizing issues of The Fire This Time, a Black student newspaper published by Emory students, for the Emory Digital Collections online and an upcoming University Archives exhibition, highlighting moments in Emory history when Black students demanded change
- digitizing photographs and ephemera from the Black Print Culture Collection
- digitizing the Pitts Library collection of the letters of Selina Hastings, a philanthropist who financially supported Methodist endeavors; the letters demonstrate Hastings’ religious correspondence with other influential Methodists and religious figures; through digitization, access to the letters will enable further research into the role of women in the early Methodist movement by Candler faculty and students as well as the broader public
- digitizing black and white negatives from the James E. Hinton Collection; a student of photographer Roy DeCarava, Hinton photographed athletes and activists throughout the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s, as well as personal images that offer a beautiful glimpse of everyday African American life
- digitizing 20 years of Emory course catalogs in support of Emory’s accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)
- digitizing videos from the Emory School of Medicine Surgical Grand Rounds lecture series from the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Library; delivered by experts in the medical field, the lectures give a historical perspective to our understanding of medical issues and provide context for how the practice of medicine has evolved over time.
- digitizing Music and Media videos for a newly implemented streaming video platform for course reserves to support remote learning
In addition to these projects, Preservation and Digitization Services also continues day-to-day activities of digitizing patron request items for access. We also monitor environmental conditions in library collection and exhibit spaces across all our libraries to ensure that materials are kept in optimal parameters for temperature, relative humidity, and light levels.
In the spirit of Preservation Week, a physical exhibit about conservation is currently on display on Level 1 of Emory’s Woodruff Library (see top photo). Located just outside the entrance to the Preservation Office near the elevators, “Creativity in Conservation” displays a wide spectrum of conservation activities, from preventive actions (environmental monitoring and integrated pest management) to complex treatments, repair techniques, exhibition mount and protective enclosure construction, as well as disaster response strategies and equipment.
Also, opening this summer will be an online preservation exhibit, “Life of an Item,” featuring the Telugu Manuscript in the collection of the Woodruff Library. The Telugu Manuscript is a work containing a portion of the Telugu Mahabharata as written by the poet Kotikalapudi Viraraghavakavi (1663-1712). It is written on very fragile dried palm leaves and requires careful handling and special treatment. Staff across Emory departments and disciplines are working together to provide content and photographic material, describing the manuscript, its importance to research, and its use during Emory class instruction. “Life of an Item” will become an online preservation exhibition series, highlighting one Emory Libraries collection item annually.
By Nina Rao, audiovisual conservator, Emory Preservation Office