Spreading the Word

Library tours

Library tours are an excellent way for users to glimpse the behind-the-scenes operations of a preservation department. A general tour policy among staff should be in place. It is useful to know, for example, what time of the day is best for people to enter workspaces and when qualified staff will be available to explain treatments and answer questions. Group tours are a better use of time for everyone, although single tours may be appropriate for prospective donors or prominent supporters of the library. Review boards, trustees, and alumni all may want to see firsthand what their preservation efforts have contributed to. Preservation professionals may want to visit other libraries' preservation facilities to get ideas for improving their own efforts.

Tour leaders should be familiar with the preservation program, the scope of its activities, and the services it offers. A professionally led tour can win friends for the preservation program, help staff to gain an understanding of preservation issues, and amplify any valuable services.

Publishing and lectures

Public presentations such as "How to Determine If a Book Is Rare" and "How to Store Photographs and Negatives" can educate patrons who may not otherwise have contact with preservation professionals. Presentations on the proper storage of glass-plate negatives, on rare books, and on preservation photocopying of newspaper clippings for local historical or antiquarian societies can prove invaluable to users, educating them about the role and responsibilities of preservation while encouraging careful use of collections.

Preservation professionals should also present papers to conferences and participate in the general debate on libraries and preservation. Personal appearances at these conferences are beneficial, as questions can be answered and new contacts made. Every opportunity to interact with others in the preservation field should be considered. The preservation department of Stanford University Libraries Conservation Online (CoOL) site has posted presentations and training tools. Some of these are available as PowerPoint presentations.

Training publications created by a preservation program can be influential in educating professionals and users about specific topics. Cornell University, for example, has produced a number of brochures that are available online. These include "Care of Family Papers and the Home Library," "Preserving Your Family Photographs," and "Preventive Care of Art on Paper."

Launching a website can give a preservation department international exposure. The whole world can track the progress of a particular preservation project, be introduced to new research in the field, and learn of any valuable material that is being preserved. The site, moreover, can provide links to other useful sites and to people willing to answer questions. Many websites already have a link for frequently asked questions (see Library of Congress and Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America).