ITHACA, N.Y. (Dec. 11, 2014) – Building on a successful 2012-2013 internship program that trained staff from four leading academic libraries in Beijing, Cornell University Library has received an $186,000 award from the Henry Luce Foundation to offer another round of the library collections preservation workshop to a wider audience and extend the reach of the “train-the-trainers” model even further.
The program will begin in the spring of 2015 and will offer two training sessions per year for two interns at a time. Interns will be selected from separate geographic regions in mainland China and Taiwan. Over the course of a two-year span, eight interns will be instructed in the basics of preservation and disaster prevention and also given the tools to train other librarians, archivists and technicians in their region.
“Through the interactions with previous interns and multiple inquiries we received from other Chinese libraries after they learned about the project, it became apparent that the need for this type of training exists throughout China,” said Barbara Berger Eden, director of preservation at Cornell and co-project director. She added that this project allows Cornell to contribute to the well-being of collections residing in mainland China and Taiwan that benefit research around the world.
Materials from the Chinese Republican (1919-1949) era and Western bindings will be of particular focus. The program has been enhanced based on knowledge gained during the initial phase. Having learned that Chinese libraries have far more paperbacks than hardcover books, conservation training will include in-depth instruction on caring for and repairing paperbacks. The incoming interns will include underrepresented libraries from diverse geographic regions. When they return, they will not only form a much wider preservation expert network than existed before, they will also broaden the network by training additional librarians.
Pan Wei, deputy director of the China Agricultural University Library, conducted a survey in 2013, which indicated the need in China and the potential reach of the Cornell program. Of the 56 Chinese research libraries that responded to Pan, 40 have no preservation unit or even trained staff with preservation expertise. Pan, having experienced the Cornell program first hand, gave it high marks, noting its rich content and impact. “Thanks to the training,” she said, “my library is able to preserve our collections and exhibit library materials in non-destructive ways.”
Two of the four home libraries of the previous interns are establishing preservation labs; and an online preservation tutorial, developed and translated into Chinese during the initial program, will benefit many Chinese-speaking librarians, including the interns and those who will be trained by them.
“The Cornell University Library is a leader in the field of preservation and conservation. The Luce Foundation is pleased to support this project, which helps preserve important materials for teaching and research and fosters exchange between the academic library communities in the United States and China,” said Helena Kolenda, who directs the Foundation’s Asia Program.