Uncategorized, what we do

Beer In The Library: Use vs. Preservation

Of course, the above title isn’t about a Beer Library, where one might check out a vintage brew, or preserve it in a vault.  I wonder if that exists?  What I actually want to talk about is the golden rule of libraries: NO FOOD OR DRINK, and if it is ever appropriate to break that rule in a special library.  I was sorely tempted this weekend, but held the line so I could spend some time thinking it through.  Give ’em an inch and they’ll take a mile, y’know…and I want to choose which mile they can have.

This past week, the AAC hosted 40 climbers from 24 countries, about 25 editors from climbing journals around the world, and about 100 US climbers, and there was a Board of Directors meeting.  We had a couple of big parties, The Gourds played, and no one got to climb because it wouldn’t stop raining.  There were a lot of people in the building, and many of them had no idea how fantastic a resource this library is.  I wanted them to spend time here, so we kept the doors open as much as possible, and on Saturday night there were wet, cold people holding beers and they wanted to come in to hang out, read, and talk to other climbers about what they were reading.

Which brings us, once again, to a conversation about the nature of the collection (circulating signed first editions of route guides that come back with rocks and dust between the pages) and the nature of the people who are the primary patrons (men and women who take huge calculated risks in the name of adventure and exploration).

These are people who would use (and support) the library more if they knew more about it.  There’s a big push to make the library more relevant to the club members and to new members, and I think that will happen if the library is a fun place to be.  And, for the most part, the members are respectful of the library rules.  So…what’s the matter with a little beer or coffee when folks are gathered around the (non-functional) fireplace, talking about the places they’ve been and where they want to go?  Seems like the risk of a spill is far outweighed by the RL social networking – especially when you factor in the fact that it’s a small library, easily monitored; there’s very low relative humidity here, and very few insects.

I like the University of Minnesota Libraries policy.  I think we should get our logo on some adult sippy cups. No red wine and no food though.  And I think the idea of the circulation desk/bar might not be such a good idea either – there’s just no room for a kegerator.



Still adjusting – Please hold

I just wanted to check in with everyone who reads this blog, to let you know it is not dead. I do plan on posting all kind of things related to preservation and conservation. It’s just that I’m still trying to figure out where things are and how things are done at the AAC Library. Note the chunk of Matterhorn on the floor at the far right of this picture.  And the fireplace in the distance.  It was functional till just last month!  I’m pitching for a video fire to replace it.

library front desk

I’ve completed my second week of work and am busy mulling over preservation and access priorities. The collections need all kinds of attention all at once, and there is a lot of interest in the materials from many fronts. I’ve answered reference questions about: the best time to go helicoptering in Patagonia; how to find a climbing guide in thy Pyrenees; located topo maps of the Lakes District so a researcher can connect the poems and the altitude gain; found alternative expeditions to Tibetan routes closed due to the political upheaval; and located a 3/4 profile portrait of Sir Edmund Hillary so an artist could sculpt a trophy.

I’m developing a presentation for the Friend’s group on our publisher’s bindings, many of which have really interesting mountain-related designs – I plan to scan the covers and post on the Library blog at some point. Here are a couple not-so-great pics to whet your appetite:

A. Smith Mont Blanc covergilded mountaineering cover

And then there are the issues of a poorly functioning HVAC system, a shelving construction campaign, the magnetic and film media that desperately needs attention, and the development of a digitization program. And cataloging. The upcoming AIC Angel’s project. Starting a book repair program. Fundraising. Having a long range plan in hand is unbelieveably helpful as a starting point for my own planning, and as a method of communicating the issues to other departments. It’s all pretty exciting and challenging and interesting. Stay tuned!

what we do

Tag – We Are Not It

I’ve been searching for other paper conservation blogs. I’ve Googled and Asked. I’ve looked on Technorati, Digg, Del.icio.us. I’ve varied my search terms. I’ve decided…Houston, we have a problem.

“Paper conservation” brings us mostly to discussions about saving trees, and a very interesting blog about a conservation experience in the Antarctic. “Paper conservator” might get you here, and to a nicely-done British book conservator blog-he tells me he is now at the Huntington- Broken Books, or Mr. Paper’s look into the paper industry in it’s many permutations, including a bunch of stuff on paper dresses, and to a blog by a newly hired paper conservator in Australia. “Art conservation” – not much except conservator’s private practice websites, training programs, the Distlist and other publications, and vendors – no blogs that I’ve yet found. “Preservation” is mostly buildings, unless you add the word “Library”. “Book conservation” brings you to the ubiquitous Future of the Book. Frustratingly, many feed search results provide articles about political conservatives instead of conservators. “Art restoration” is mostly articles written by non-conservators.

Bottom line is that any combination of search terms only yields a handful of relevant results, and anyone looking for a blog talking about our profession has to rummage like the most persistent flea-market hound. We’ve got to do better than this.

So, shall we revisit the ever-evolving conversation about what is that we should be called? What search terms, keywords and tags should we be promoting? How can we make sure that we get found?

My question to you: how do you describe your profession to a stranger, when you have about 5 seconds to get it across? Do you say “I’m a conservator”? The response to that, it seems, is “…like you save the environment?” I tend to say “I fix art and historic documents”, and leave the word “conservator for later in the conversation. That don’t seem right, PR-wise, but it communicates the essentials quickly. It does leave something to be desired in expressing the intricacy, extensive training and education, the professionalism required.

Ideas, anyone?

Tape is Evil

Unbelievably cool!

My blog stats tell me that Tape is Evil has been blogged on a Japanese conservation site! Check it out at


And a Library Preservation Blog in Michigan:


And, last but not least, a blog for Kilgarlinites:


Thanks everybody!