WORCESTER, Mass.– June 23, 2009 – Treasured objects and artifacts held by Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will be preserved for future generations with help from the IMLS Connecting to Collections Bookshelf, a core set of conservation books and online resources donated by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
"We are both fortunate and greatly challenged by the diversity of materials in our care at the George C. Gordon Library," said Tracey Leger-Hornby, WPI's assistant vice president for library services. "Each of these groups of materials – manuscripts, rare books, art on paper, film, photographs, metalwork, technology, and digital media – presents its own unique preservation challenges. The Bookshelf will provide a welcome and much needed resource for information on the care and handling of these diverse media, which is somewhat outside the scope of typical library collections."
WPI's institutional archives are well-known for the Robert Fellman-Charles Dickens collection and Theo Brown Diaries. The archives also hold, however, The Woodbury Collection – fine bird's-eye view ink and gouache drawings up to 6 feet long of Worcester-area factories from the 19th and early 20th centuries. In addition, through the support of Professor Diran Apelian, director of WPI's Metal Processing Institute, the university's Special Collections Office recently received a large gift of metal sculptures by the respected artist Bernard Brenner. Documenting the history of WPI, the archives preserve early movie films of WPI football games, hundreds of photographs of students and alumni, in addition to printed material and manuscripts. Special Collections also collects board games, video game cartridges, and related hardware to support WPI's Interactive Media & Game Development program. In addition to preserving and protecting its collections, the Gordon Library has started several digitization projects with the aim of protecting the university's original materials, while making rare and unique resources, such as the Fellman-Charles Dickens collection, available to research and scholars worldwide.
"When IMLS launched this initiative to improve the dire state of our nation's collections, we understood that the materials gathered for the Bookshelf would serve as important tools for museums, libraries, and archives nationwide," said Anne-Imelda Radice, director of IMLS. "We were both pleased and encouraged by the overwhelming interest of WPI, which was prepared to answer the call to action. We know that with WPI's dedication, artifacts from our shared history will be preserved for future generations."
WPI's Gordon Library will receive this essential set of resources based on an application describing the needs and plans for the care of its collections. The IMLS Bookshelf focuses on collections typically found in art or history museums and in libraries' special collections, with an added selection of texts for zoos, aquaria, public gardens, and nature centers. It addresses such topics as the philosophy and ethics of collecting, collections management and planning, emergency preparedness, and culturally specific conservation issues.
The IMLS Bookshelf is a crucial component of Connecting to Collections: A Call to Action, a conservation initiative that the Institute launched in 2006. IMLS began the initiative in response to a 2005 study it released in partnership with Heritage Preservation, A Public Trust at Risk: The Heritage Health Index Report on the State of America's Collections. The multi-faceted, multi-year initiative shines a nationwide spotlight on the needs of America's collections, especially those held by smaller institutions, which often lack the human and financial resources necessary to adequately care for their collections. Click here for more information on the Connecting to Collections initiative.
About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, please visit www.imls.gov.