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Princeton University Libraries Tour Update

I thought that folks who saw my invitation last November to tour the  
Preservation Office of the Princeton University Libraries prior to  
ALA midwinter in Philadelphia might be interested in the outcome of  
our nonrefundable offer.

A total of 20 folk attended the tour, although more than that  
registered and subsequently dropped out for various reasons.  The  
crowd was a mix of preservation administrators, special collections  
librarians, librarians with interest in or responsibility for  
preservation at their institutions, and library school students,  
especially a contingent from UTexas's PA program.  It is interesting  
to note that only 8 folk took the bus we chartered while the  
remainder drove to Princeton on their own.  Thank you all for  
attending.  The weather was really quite pleasant--no snow on the  
ground and no bitter cold--considering what things were like at that  
time last year, and what could have happened had this year's major  
regional snowstorm arrived two nights earlier.

We spent two hours in the morning touring the Preservation Office,  
discussing the finer and coarser aspects of our systemwide but  
de-centralized preservation program.  This portion of the tour  
included show and tell presentations by Mick LeTourneaux, assistant  
general collections conservator, Ted Stanley, special collections  
paper conservator, and Joan Irving, paper conservation intern from  
the Winterthur program.

Afterwards we went for a leisurely buffet lunch at the University's  
faculty club.  This included the staff of the Preservation Ofice.  

Following lunch folks were free to pursue their own devices.  Steve  
Ferguson, Assistant University Librarian for Rare Books and Special  
Collections, conducted a tour of his department as well as a walking  
tour of main library, including our latest addition.  A number of  
folk returned to the Preservation Office and discussed shop.  Others  
just moseyed around the campus or the Princeton business district or  
simply headed out.  By 5 o'clock in the afternoon the bus subgroup  
was on its way back to Philadelphia.

I was delighted to be able to host the tour.  The University Library  
Director, Donald Koepp, fully approved it, for which I thank him.   
And the Preservation Office budget has sufficient flexibility to  
underwrite the cost such an event, including lunch.

Editorial:  I make it a point to visit preservation departments and  
conservation labs while attending conferences, workshops, and  
seminars around the country.  This is the only time I have to visit  
colleagues on their home turf and to see the milieu within which  
their programs operate, especially if their institutions are off the  
beaten path, such as is Princeton University.  (This assumes that  
they welcome drop-ins on such occasions.)  I wish more of my  
colleagues would do same, both visiting local programs or hosting  
tours of their own.  There is always much to be learned by being  
inquisitive and comparing notes.

We have two perfect oppportunities for touring coming up in the near  
future.  The 1995 ALA annual summer conference is being held in  
Chicago which has a host of preservation programs (eg Northwestern  
University, Newberry Library, U Chicago), conservation labs (eg  
Graphic Conservation Co, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Historical  
Society), and book arts programs (eg Columbia College).  Why can't  
PARS members from the area organize something the day before or the  
day following their meetings?  

The annual meeting of AIC is being held in St. Paul.  The museum tour  
info provided by the local arrangements committee in the meeting  
brochure does not mention whether the conservation labs in these  
institutions will be visited during the tour.  Also, this tour is  
museum oriented.  What about books, archives, libraries, etc?  The  
Twin City area has U Minnesota library, Minnesota Historical Society,  
Campbell-Logan Bindery, Minnesota Center for the Book Arts,  
Minneapolis Public Library (yes, they do have a bindery and book  
repair lab), etc.  Why is there no tour of these facilities?  And why  
did the museum tour have to be at night?  (I know this is nitpicking,  
but shouldn't folk be able to decide for themselves whether they want  
to go on a tour during the daytime or to attend meetings being  
presented during the same time slot?)  Frankly, I don't see why the  
AIC admin doesn't coordinate more tours of nearby programs, the  
registration cost of the annual meeting is so g-d'd expensive and we  
should get more opportunity and quality for our money.  

When AIC was in Buffalo there was a tour of the art conservation  
program at Buffalo State College (although I am not sure AIC was  
directly involved in the organization of this) but none of the  
well-regarded preservation program at SUNY-Buffalo library.  (I do  
not recall what other tours of local facilities may have taken  
place.)  While in Nashville, it is/was my impression (probably  
incorrect) that the Country Music Foundation (or is it the Country  
Music Hall of Fame?) has a lab for preserving the old sound  
recordings in their collections.  A tour of these facilities and the  
work that they do would have been very interesting.  Nashville is  
also the headquarters of the American Association of State and Local  
History which has produced preservation and conservation literature  
for their members.  A tie in with this organization would also have  
been interesting.  

There are lost opportunities whenever we travel to meetings, despite  
the fact that most of the time is taken up with meetings or  
socializing.  (There were two tours of the Conservation Center for  
Art and Historic Artifacts during ALA in Philadelphia.  I thank the  
tour organizers for their forththought.  I hope their efforts were  
rewarded.)  Of course, taking the time out for tours takes up time  
and money, sometimes staying in town an extra day.  Don't choose to  
ignore opportunity too often.  You may never (want to) come this way  

Of course, my complaint above is based on my personal interests in  
the field, which certainly may be viewed with amusement, skepticism  
or outrage by some of you.  That doesn't matter.  What matters is  
professional growth and development in the field--information is  
power--and touring local programs is one avenue for such activity.

End editorial:  I plan on offering a repeat tour of our facilities  
again in 1996 during the ALA annual conference in New York City.  I  
will plan it slightly differently so that more of you may attend the  
conference without having to come into town for our tour more than  
one day/night earlier than you would have normally.  By the way, if  
the Guild of Book Workers have their annual meeting nearby in the  
future, I will offer a tour at that time as well.

Robert J. Milevski
Preservation Librarian
Princeton University Libraries
One Washington Road
Princeton, New Jersey 08544
telephone: 609-258-5591; fax: 609-258-4105 or -5571; 

email: milevski@firestone.princeton.edu

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