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2008 Report: Sidebar: Preservation Lab

Preservation Lab

Preservation Lab
A staff member uses a high-powered microscope to identify
insects that may have infiltrated archival materials.

The stewardship of the Institution's assets—in the form of the library and archives' collections—dictates aggressive action to preserve those materials for future generations of researchers. Behind the scenes, Hoover staff work diligently to fight off the cumulative effects of time, weather, and repeated use that threaten to destroy the accumulated history Hoover has collected.

Collections arrive in various media. Moisture, mold, insects, and pests; damage to fragile recording material; fused audiotapes and videotapes; and bit degradation of digital media bedevil conservators and undermine their continual battle to preserve the valuable assets entrusted to the Institution. Protecting these materials, which range from early twentieth-century printed publications and handwritten correspondence to audio and video recordings on disc and tape to the latest digital content, poses serious challenges that require complex solutions.

To take advantage of the new preservation techniques that rely on emerging technologies, the Institution has developed a new conservation and preservation program, thanks to a generous gift from a donor. That program involved constructing new preservation labs, expanding and enhancing current facilities, and purchasing state-of-the-art preservation, conservation, digitization, and audiovisual equipment.

The new digital imaging laboratory includes flatbed scanners and a sophisticated digital camera system to accommodate posters and other large-format materials. The paper conservation lab added a water treatment system to remove impurities and neutralize acidity and a combination suction table and fume hood to clean mold and pollutants from oversized material.

In the audio lab, high-resolution digital copies for preservation and low-resolution surrogates for access by researchers can now be produced, and a digital mass-storage system is in place to create backups of the large audio and video materials received. Because the most cost-efficient and reliable method to preserve paper is still microfilming, that area has been renovated to optimize the microfilming process.

Donors to Hoover acknowledge the care the Institution takes to protect the gifts entrusted to it. The new preservation and conservation programs and equipment ensure that the trust is well placed.