College's Special Collections Awarded NEH Preservation Assistance Grant


Decorative German china piece showing Vulgamore, Robinson, and Dickie Halls, ca. 1904, recently added to the Albion College Archives by Alby Zatkoff, '76.
Decorative German china piece showing Vulgamore, Robinson, and Dickie Halls, ca. 1904, recently added to the Albion College Archives by Alby Zatkoff, '76.
From albumen photographs to digital video recordings, Albion College's archives looks to the future, thanks to the recent award of a 2009 Preservation Assistance Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The $6,000 award will underwrite a preservation survey of the College libraries' special collections, which include the College archives and rare books collection, along with the archives of the West Michigan Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Archivist and Special Collections Librarian Jennie Thomas noted that the grant will be applied this spring towards a preservation consultant from the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) in Andover, Massachusetts, who will review the current storage conditions for the books, memorabilia, artifacts, textiles, documents, furniture, audiovisual materials, and other items in the collections. Along with evaluating current environmental and storage conditions and any potential risks to the collections, the consultant will review departmental and college policies and procedures and make recommendations for changes and improvements.

Archives assistant Mary Houghton measures a bound collection of Ladies' Home Journals from the early 20th century, in order to custom-build a storage box for the volume. Such boxes are specially constructed to protect fragile and damaged materials in the library's collections.
"A preservation assessment has never been done beyond what I do as a regular course of my work," said Thomas, stressing the importance of the grant. "This is great timing too, as we look towards renovating the library buildings, because these recommendations will provide guidelines for the architects in designing our new space.

Thomas further noted that the consultant's report will be added to the Learning Commons project, a key part of the College's new strategic plan. "I think the timing of the project and the positive potential for affecting a new facility may have had a lot to do with the NEH funding this grant," Thomas concluded. "I'm very excited."

For more information on Albion College's Special Collections, see the Web site, or contact Thomas at 517/629-0487.

Hannah Scheiwe, '09, in the College publications archives