This research study assesses preservation education offered by continuing education (CE) providers in the United States. Educators teaching preservation workshops for regional field service organizations and other local and regional preservation networks were surveyed about the type and number of workshops offered, content of preservation offerings, audience, faculty resources, future plans for curricula, and availability of continuing education credits. The investigators hypothesize that preservation workshops offered by CE providers serve multiple purposes for the library and archival science professions, becoming not only an avenue for professionals to continue to develop or reinforce their knowledge and skills in preservation, but also often the primary source of rudimentary preservation education for library and information science professionals and paraprofessionals. This paper reviews the literature relevant to the study of preservation in the CE environment, describes the research methodology employed in designing and conducting the survey, presents the resulting data, and analyzes the trends revealed by the data in order to understand more fully the goals and objectives of CE in preservation during the last decade and to gauge future directions of the field. This paper concludes by presenting plans for further research, which will expand upon initial findings of this survey.
The Need for Continuing Education in the Field of Preservation
As part of an overall desire to promote continuing professional development and to foster lifelong learning, continuing education (CE) provides an essential service to library and information science (LIS) practitioners. It gives librarians, archivists, and other cultural heritage professionals essential information, skills, and insight throughout their career. Both the American Library Association (ALA) and the Society of American Archivists (SAA) affirm the value of CE in promoting lifelong learning for practitioners. (1)
Continuing education plays a particularly important role in sustaining the preservation imperative, as it often serves as the first or only source of information for professionals and support staff on how to protect and extend the life of library and archival materials. The 2005 Heritage Health Index, which aimed to "assess the condition and preservation needs of U.S. Collections," indicates the fundamental need for preservation education: of the more than 30,000 American cultural institutions, responsible for more than 4.8 billion artifacts, 70 percent of collecting institutions indicate a need to provide additional training and expertise for staff caring for their collections. (2) The LIS field must focus on providing practitioners with ample opportunities to increase their knowledge of preservation concepts and help them master key preservation skills, through both graduate and continuing education.
Given the challenges to be faced in educating the next generation of LIS professionals to care for cultural heritage materials, the authors of this paper felt that the time was ripe to conduct a formal study of the state of continuing education. Thus, this research aims to thoroughly document activities in the field of continuing education for preservation during the last decade, and offer suggestions for how CE providers can best place themselves to provide the needed knowledge and expertise to effectively administer preservation programs in libraries and archives.
History of Preservation Continuing Education and Its Impact on the Preservation Field
Education in preservation has a relatively brief history compared with that of other specializations within LIS. In the 1970s, few graduate library science programs offered conservation or preservation as a regular part of their curriculum. Continuing education offerings--primarily in the form of workshops and short courses--constituted the primary source of preservation education for most practitioners. Many current graduate school offerings in preservation can trace their roots to these pilot programs, as they were often first offered through university CE programs. (3) In the last three decades, many leading preservation professionals (both educators and administrators) focused their efforts on integrating preservation into graduate library science education. (4) These labors have been fruitful, as more than three-quarters of all LIS schools with ALA accreditation now offer at least one course in the area of preservation. (5) Continuing education was seen as playing a complementary role, however. Its role was not particularly well-defined beyond the general recommendation to acquaint practitioners with the "basic tenets of preservation," and to serve as a potential route to specialization within the preservation field. (6)
In its 1991 report, the Preservation Education Task Force, organized by the Commission on Preservation and Access, suggested that CE efforts should focus on developing short-term, intensive training programs for mid-career librarians and archivists, similar to the in-house training program found at the library system of the University of California-Berkeley. (7) The reasoning behind this recommendation was that such programs were necessary because preservation was not yet a part of most LIS graduate programs' curricula at that time.
In the 1990s, several programs were launched in emulation of the short-term model, including the SAA Preservation Management Institute (1987) and its successor, the Preservation Management Training Program (1992-1994); the Preservation Intensive Institute, first hosted by the University of Pittsburgh in 1993 and in 1994 at UCLA; and the Rutgers Preservation Management Institute (first held in 1998). As the names of these programs suggest, they emphasized the management aspects of preservation, rather than simply teaching basic skills such as book repair. They had significant impact on the LIS profession, as dozens of professionals graduating from these programs were able to integrate preservation administration principles into the management of their own institutions. (8)
Programs of this kind require a significant investment of time and resources, and rely heavily on subsidies from federal and regional funding agencies. Without such funding, sustaining programs is difficult, as most potential students cannot afford them (unless their employers provide subsidies). For example, tuition for the most recent offering of the Rutgers Preservation Management Institute (PMI) in 2005 was $4,075, which covered the costs of fifteen days of instruction and the review of course assignments by instructors. This amount did not include costs for travel, accommodations, and meals. Scholarships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the New Jersey Historical Commission covered tuition and travel-associated costs for a dozen students; each offering of the PMI is limited to twenty students.
Of the three major initiatives, only the Rutgers program has survived over the long term and continues to educate administrators to manage preservation programs. While the aims of these programs were admirable, the difficulties in sustaining intensive programs of this type mean that most of them remained experiments rather than successful models that could be duplicated in multiple venues.
Given the high costs of intensive training, another model for continuing preservation education also grew and expanded during this period: the regional workshop, as offered by field service programs, professional associations, and other local preservation-focused organizations. The target audience for these briefer offerings (most often held as half-day or one-day programs) has been much broader than for intensive programs, as educators aim to serve the needs of professionals and paraprofessionals at all levels of expertise, not just mid-career professionals. Workshop providers focus on providing training in key areas such as disaster preparedness and recovery, management of environmental conditions, and book repair. While the management perspective is still central to most of these workshops, the broad spectrum of the potential audience and the limited time available for instruction often leads to a focus on training and skills rather than analysis and synthesis of preservation concepts.
The work of Cloonan provides an interesting perspective on approaches to preservation education. (9) Cloonan's research targeted respondents in various institutional environments as well as international settings. Utilizing interviews and questionnaires, the author surveyed respondents and sought feedback concerning what they identified as issues and challenges in preservation education and suggested resolutions to the problems. In considering the differences in focus and objectives between graduate and continuing education in preservation, Cloonan made a distinction among several related concepts: training, education, and continuing education:
Training usually implies the learning of specific or specialized skills, often in a workshop setting; for example, disaster recovery, care of photographic prints, book repairs, or monitoring the library environment. Education is a more comprehensive term which refers not only to acquiring skills, but also to obtaining knowledge through experience, creativity, analysis, and the exchange of ideas. Education is life-long while training takes place over a finite period of time. Continuing education can take place at any stage of one's career. It may consist of refresher courses, or may lead to certificates of advanced study. Library schools, libraries, and professional associations offer continuing education programs. (10)
Although these distinctions are helpful in theory, in practice the lines between training and continuing education are often blurred in preservation CE offerings. For the purposes of this study, the investigators chose to combine the categories of training and continuing education together under the category of continuing education.
Furthermore, other organizations in addition to …