Last Saturday, 12 March 2011, I attended a workshop organized by the ACA and MISC (U of T’s Masters of Information Student Council).
The two instructors, Sue Maltby and Sylvia Lassam, gave very interesting presentations, one of which was on “conservation concerns,” and the other on rare books and paper conservation. Both did very well in giving us a two-hour overview of material that takes months, if not years, to learn. I happily discovered in the opening credits that the first talk was museum-oriented, while the second was archives-oriented, which provided an interesting contrast and balance between two different, but related, fields. Museums and archives deal with similar pests and concerns, and this workshop highlighted that fact.
At the end of the afternoon we were given unprocessed archival files, and instructed in how to prepare them for processing: removing staples and paper clips, unfolding folded sheets (pages with creases will tear more easily than pages that are uncreased), taking opened letters out of envelopes. I found an envelope that was sealed, and asked Sylvia Lassam what to do. She instructed me not to open it, since the owner of the envelope had not opened it, and there may be some value in keeping it as the owner left it.
Getting to work directly with the materials capped the excellent morning and afternoon spent in learning about conservation and preservation at different heritage institutions.