I recently co-published an article in the Guild of Book Workers (GBW) Newsletter and I thought I’d share about the research and writing process. The article was a Q&A that evolved from previous interviews I wrote for the Newsletter. I decided to interview one or two Preservation Librarians, who were doing similar work to mine at another academic library and compare and contrast out work.
The article came about after conversations with the GBW Newsletter Editor and my colleague here at ZSR, Alice Eng. The newsletter editor, Lang Ingalls, liked the possibility of having an interview with two other preservation people, and encouraged me in pursuing the idea. A second conversation with my colleague, Alice Eng, put me in contact with two preservation librarians at the Thomas G. Carpenter Library at the University of North Florida, Tracey Britton and Courtenay McLeland. Tracey Britton is Digital Projects and Preservation Specialist at the University of North Florida and Courtenay McLeland is Head of Digital Projects and Preservation at UNF. I corresponded with Tracey and Courtenay and they were interested in doing this together.
Together, Tracey, Courtenay and I developed a draft set of questions we could ask each other about our work (such as: How did you get into preservation work? What training did you have? and what kinds of repairs do you work on?) I sent these questions to Lang Ingalls and she added many more questions (such as: What is the difference between preservation, restoration and conservation? and are there standards most preservationists train in and do they bend to the specificity of the project?) The three of us discussed how we would actually conduct our individual interviews with each other, and decided we would answer the questions in a shared Google Document. This worked very well and in a short period of time I was able to share our answers in a completed document with Lang Ingalls.
I learned a great deal about Tracey’s and Courtenay’s preservation work as we answered the questions together. We discussed terminology (such as preservation vs. conservation), our views on these definitions, and how this related to what we do every day. Something we had virtual unanimity about were the guidelines and principles we follow as we work on materials from both our General and Special Collections, such as using pH neutral materials and reversibility of our repairs. Instead of being intimidated by items with complicated repairs, we all seemed to enjoy this challenge.
The three of us have a lot in common with our principles, guidelines, and experiences, which was an important takeaway for me. I also learned about being proactive in taking an original idea to an editor and following it through to completion. I enjoyed writing this article, collaborating and learning from colleagues in the field, and sharing it with an audience.