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Preservation Week – April 22-26, 2024

Preservation Week is observed annually, in the last week of April. This year it will be marked from April 22 to 26. It is a national campaign to help boost the awareness of collecting written material and artifacts and their preservation. Preservation week acquaints the general public with conservation expertise and information, connecting individuals, families, and communities to public collections. The Society of American Archivists, the Library of Congress, the American Library Association, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and several other heritage organizations endorse and observe Preservation Week.

History of Preservation Week

The first instance of Preservation Week took place in 2010. It was organized by the American Library Association (ALA) the aim of which was to highlight the importance of preserving cultural heritage materials. The conservation of books and documents involves preserving materials such as paper and ink in an effort to maintain the information contained in them. Conservation includes techniques such as bookbinding, restoration, paper chemistry, and other material technologies that ensure the preservation of archives.

Around 750 B.C., the Old Testament prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah emphasized the importance of conserving documents to be used in the future. Years after that, in 1627, Gabriel Naudé published ”Advis pour dresser une bibliothèthe” which included a chapter discussing book preservation. An all-inclusive national survey was conducted in 2005 on the preservation needs of the U.S.’ written material and artifact collections. The study noted that American institutions hold more than 4.8 billion items. Libraries alone hold three billion, about 63% of the total. The rest is held by individuals, communities, and families. These collections constitute prints, reports, books, photographs and drawings, and objects such as maps, textiles, paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, and furniture. Sound recordings and moving images of performing arts, and oral history, also qualify as heritage items. Today, digital collections are growing in number as technology rapidly evolves.

If natural disasters have taught us any lessons, it is that resources including personal, family, and community collections are at risk of being lost forever if not preserved properly. Creating awareness is one way of encouraging conservation.

Preservation Week timeline

750 B.C.
Old Testament Prophets Endorse Preservation

The Old Testament prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah emphasize the importance of preserving documents

Gabriel Naudé Discusses Book Preservation

In 1627, Gabriel Naudé publishes ”Advis pour dresser une bibliothèthe” which includes a chapter on book preservation.

Over 4.8 billion Artifacts in Institutions

The first comprehensive national survey of the preservation needs of the nation’s collections notes that institutions hold over 4.8 billion artifacts.

The First Preservation Week

The American Library Association establishes Preservation Week.

Preservation Week FAQs

How do I keep my books dust-free?

You could also wrap your books in cloth for extra protection as you prepare to store them.

How do I preserve paintings?

Keep them out of direct sunlight, store them upright, and store them in a cool, dry place. Do not store your canvas prints on the floor and store large paintings and canvas prints in mirror boxes.

How can I preserve audio recordings?

Make at least two (or more) copies of your selected audio recordings. A copy can stay on your computer or laptop, and others saved on different media such as CDs, DVDs, hard drives, or even on a cloud on the Internet.

How to Observe Preservation Week

  1. Visit a Library

    The American Library Association urges libraries and other institutions to use the week to emphasize the need for preservation. It also wants the public to know what they can do to help in conserving private and public collections. Visit a library to, at least, appreciate the preserved collections there.

  2. Invite a speaker to talk about a preservation

    School or community leaders can use this opportunity to create awareness around preservation. Appreciation for such efforts will lead to better care of our collections.

  3. Learn how book restorations are done

    Find out where you can view conservation treatment. Also, search for online videos that show the techniques used in preservation.

5 Amazing Facts About Preservation Week

  1. There are over 4.8 billion artifacts

    They include thousands of archives, scientific research collections, and archaeological repositories kept by historical societies, libraries, and museums.

  2. A lot of collections are being destroyed

    More than 50% of collecting institutions have had their archives and historical artifacts damaged by light.

  3. Collections are destroyed by improper storage

    Over 65% of collecting institutions report damage to their document and artifact collections due to inadequate storage practices.

  4. Most institutions do neglect their collections

    About 80% of collecting institutions have no paid staff assigned the responsibility of preservation.

  5. Light places collections at risk

    The sun’s rays and light from artificial sources cause archived items to fade and disintegrate.

Why Preservation Week is Important

  1. We preserve our history

    History is important because it reminds us of important milestones in the past. At the most basic level, it gives us pride in civic culture and promotes an appreciation of local and national heritage.

  2. We learn to conserve our collections

    On this day, conventions and similar events are set up to aid and encourage us to properly care for our collections. We will learn to protect our cultural remnants by minimizing their deterioration and preventing the loss of important information.

  3. Preservation helps us process our nostalgia

    Going through our old collections elicits positive feelings. Looking back at old photographs, for example, shows us how far we’ve come and gives us hope for the future.

Preservation Week dates

2022April 25Monday
2023April 24Monday
2024April 22Monday
2025April 21Monday
2026April 20Monday

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