Spem in alium: Orchestrating preservation

[These remarks were delivered to the Preservation Administration Interest Group at the American Library Association’s 2017 Annual Conference in Chicago, IL. By way of context, it was just announced that I was taking up the position of Director for Preservation at the Library of Congress. I spoke about preservation in libraries, but I believe that these apply as well to preservation in archives, museums, and other collecting institutions.]
I worry what Emily Post might say about lecturing on semiotics at 9 in the morning on a week-end, but Richenda got me a little bit fired up the need for a critical theory of preservation last night, so I’m going to start today with Heidegger’s thoughts on early Romantic period music and food storage:

Continue reading Spem in alium: Orchestrating preservation

UCLA Library Cooperative Library Services Talk

On September 18, 2015, I had the pleasure of spending the day at UCLA Library talking about the work we’re engaged in around cooperative print preservation and the ways that a shared service layers that can provide better access to research collections.

I want to thank Sharon Farb and Dawn Aveline, particularly, for putting this event together. It was a real pleasure to work with the team at UCLA Library, and I was very glad that we had librarians from SCELC involved, as well.

The handout from my talk is here, and alludes to the main themes: UCLA Library Handout (94 KB; PDF). I don’t have a full transcript of this talk, yet, but some of the key ideas are captured in a short piece I wrote on “Curatorial Libraries,” posted on Medium for comment, and archived on this site.

Throughout the day, we referred to a number of resources, listed here:

Finally, let me say a word of thanks to the librarians at Princeton and Harvard, who invited me to give earlier versions of this particular talk, and acknowledge all of my colleagues across the ReCAP partnership, whose many years of work on cooperative services is the real proof of the benefits that come from cooperative library services.

Unusually Effective: Policy, Evidence, and Strategy in Collection Management

On October 20, 2011, I’ll be the guest speaker for the UCLA GSE&IS Colloquim Series, in a talk I’ve called “Unusually Effective: Policy, Evidence, and Strategy in Collection Management.”

I’ll talk about some of the ways that UCLA Library’s Preservation Department is engaged with the issues at stake in stewardship of the printed record and the best ways to structure preservation programs, as part of our mandate to bring the Library’s role as a collection of record into operational reality. The research project I’m featuring on October 20 applied economic models of information preservation and methods from operations research to the “preservation review” function developed for the UCLA Library. In this process, holdings data are used are the primary driver of preservation decisions about lost or critically damaged materials, as an alternative to traditional methods, which relied on idiosyncratic domain knowledge or canonical lists or resources.

In my talk, I’ll extrapolate from the results to date to propose methods for preservation management in a cooperative, but not centrally administered, library environment and discuss complimentary relationships between artifactual and digital collections. I’m still in the research and development process on this, as you might guess from the academic tone of the preceding paragraphs. If you’ve followed the saga about library discards that has spread from Cracked.com to NPR, this is a talk that is essentially about how libraries can develop a rational retention process and avoid bad discard decisions within a highly automated process that respects our very limited time and money.


Tour and Talk for the Horn Press

I’m looking forward to a visit with the students of the Horn Press on Weds, Feb. 17. UCLA Library’s conservator, Kristen St. John, will be giving a tour of the Library Conservation Center and afterwards I’ll be speaking about the state of things in library preservation and showing photos from a few disaster response projects.

The Horn Press is a great group at UCLA that studies printing and fine presswork, and augments the MLIS program in the areas of book conservation, preservation, and analytical bibliography. Read all about them.