Organize items and consult experts

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For both Preservation Week (April 27-May 3) and my work with USM’s Franco-American Collection, I listened to a webinar on preserving family archives.  Two themes connected to aspects of information literacy.

The first theme was the importance of organizing your materials.  Organizing information is an underrated aspect of information literacy: it relates to the use of information.  Let’s use family photos as a case in point.  If a folder of photos includes a list of the subjects, future generations would know who was in the pictures.   Then those descendents could decide what to do with the photos (which ones to keep, which ones to share with relatives, etc.).

The other theme was the value of consulting subject experts.  Presenter Karen Brown fielded questions from participants.  When time ran out, she recommended talking to a local conservator.  Information literacy involves knowing where to go for information: sometimes the best resource is a person.

Of course I gained some tips on protecting family treasures as well.  I’ll pass along a few:

  • Display copies instead of the original valuable item, when possible.
  • Rotate displays of originals (to avoid exposing an original too long to the elements).
  • Keep the valuables away from extremes of  temperatures or humidity.

Still, organizing information and consulting experts are habits that apply to many settings.