Forms of Education

Preservation education can be taught through workshops, seminars, academic programs, apprenticeships, and internships. Each form offers a different level of education and training over a varied period of time.

Workshops and seminars

Workshops and seminars can be an excellent way to raise awareness of some of the challenges in preservation and to identify general areas of concentration. These usually one-day affairs are also helpful in demonstrating special techniques or apparatus, or in introducing new approaches to old methods. They can be valuable to administrators, as they often engender ideas, and valuable to preservation professionals if they present new information. For example, disaster-response exercises may enhance the skills of preservation professionals. Special workshops on new equipment and materials can be helpful to practicing preservation technicians in maintaining skills and keeping abreast of recent developments. Workshops and seminars are especially valuable as part of a continuing series dealing with consistent topics. This cumulative approach allows working library staff to participate without handicapping the parent institution by robbing them of key staff for long periods.

There are extended courses that go beyond the workshop approach but fall short of full-blown academic programs. One organization that offers extended training in conservation in Southeast Asia is SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Regional Centre for Archaeology and Fine Arts. The centre is under the aegis of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization and is hosted by the government of Thailand in Bangkok. Member states are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. SPAFA has sponsored extended workshop training in book and paper conservation. Information about SPAFA and upcoming programs in preservation and conservation is available online.

SPAFA has joined hands with the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) to develop a strategy for regional consultation with national institutions and other organizations and partners. Although ICCROM tends to concentrate on cultural property such as historic buildings, art, and archeology, the organization has recently supported programs dealing with preventive care of manuscript collections.

The advantage of regional education and training programs is that not only do they provide access to expert knowledge and skills, but they also help establish a peer group of preservation professionals.

Academic programs

Academic programs for library and archive preservation, relatively new, are based on advanced degree programs in art and archeology conservation. Such programs can be valuable in combining a scientific with a managerial approach to preservation. Courses may cover general preservation management issues including disaster-response planning, care of collections, building design, environmental control, reformatting, needs assessment, grant writing, and long-term planning. Clearly, such programs are most useful to preservation administrators, as classroom work is designed to build theoretical knowledge rather than technical skills. A major disadvantage is that very few such programs exist. Moreover, they tend to be lengthy, especially if extended from programs in library science.

In the United States, the only program specifically addressing the education of library and archive preservation professionals is at the University of Texas. In this master's program students learn about collections care and the methods of managing and promoting preservation activities. Before it was transferred to the University of Texas, the program was the Conservation Education Program in the School of Library Service at Columbia University. More than 130 students have graduated from the program since its founding in 1981. More such programs will be needed as the field of preservation becomes increasingly complex, and it is hoped that library schools in Southeast Asia will consider incorporating this area of study into their curricula by establishing special degree programs.

Many library schools around the world offer courses in preservation, but most of these are single courses taught by library school professors who lack practical experience. Moreover, such courses tend to be linked to traditional librarianship, which in most institutions is gradually being phased out in favor of information science. Some national library associations list graduate schools offering preservation as part of the curriculum. For example, the American Library Association's site includes links for institutions with ALA-accredited library and information studies programs. This link is specifically geared toward preservation programs offered not just in the United States but also abroad. Provided is a list of classes and courses offered by 57 institutions. Additionally, 7 institutions offer conservation training programs, and 65 guilds, centers, associations, schools, and other organizations offer workshops and internships in preservation and conservation.

There are also electronic list-serves that provide authoritative information on education and technical training. The Conservation Online (CoOL) site provides a number of links for educational opportunities in museum, library, and archive preservation. This site also provides current news on workshops, seminars, and internship opportunities. Some list-serves, such as, have the potential to serve as clearinghouses of educational information.

Apprenticeship programs

Apprenticeship programs offer hands-on training in high-quality preservation facilities. For hands-on conservators and technicians, this is probably the most effective way to hone skills. However, apprenticeship programs won't succeed without a network of model preservation programs and a national system of accreditation.

Internship programs

These allow interns to work within an existing preservation program—preferably one that is comprehensive—developing skills and knowledge simultaneously. Ideally, programs provide the intern with a learning environment that continues beyond the period of internship through a mentoring setup. Graduate programs in conservation usually require a period of internship, generally six to ten months.

The International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and the Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) offers an internship and fellows program for graduate-level applicants in heritage preservation. Additional training opportunities and current workshops can be found online. Unfortunately, ICCROM does not focus on library and archive preservation issues, but there is some potential for specific programs to increase their focus in this area.

The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works lists seminars and workshops that it sponsors in the United States as well as courses, conferences, and seminars sponsored internationally by other organizations.

Cornell University Library's Department of Preservation and Collection Maintenance has a well-established internship program for individuals from Southeast Asia that, while temporarily on hold, will begin again when funding can be found. The Northeast Document Conservation Centre also has some limited opportunitiesfor international internships.