Preserving our Heritage: Perspectives from antiquity to the digital age by Michele V Cloonan is the recipient of the 2016 Society of American Archivists’ Preservation Publication Award.
The book offers a unique compilation of key texts from a range of international contributors, charting the development of preservation from its origins to modern day practice and offers an overview of longevity, reversibility, enduring value and authenticity of information preservation.
The Awards Committee said “Preserving Our Heritage is undeniably a monumental achievement and a welcome contribution to the bookshelves of preservation professionals everywhere”.
Established in 1993, the SAA Preservation Publication Award recognises and acknowledges the author or editor of an outstanding published work related to archives preservation and, through this acknowledgement, encourages outstanding achievement by others.
Michele Cloonan, Dean Emirata and Professor at the Graduate School of Library & Information Science, Simmons College and editor of Preserving our Heritage : Perspective from antiquity to the digital age, writes about the destruction of cultural heritage in a new blog for CILIP. An extract is below:
While most of us don’t equate preservation with human rights, the relationship has been touched on at least as early as the nineteenth century —although the destruction of cultural heritage has taken place for as long as there has been heritage. In the nineteenth century the concept of human rights was considered in the context of war. Swiss businessman and reformer Henri Dunant was an organiser of the First Geneva Conference for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded Armies in the Field (1863-64) and a founder of the Red Cross (see his Memory of Solferino [Geneva, Switzerland: International Committee of the Red Cross, 1986]).
At just about the same time as these activities were taking place in Europe, Francis Lieber, a German jurist who settled in the United States, prepared for the Union Army General Orders No. 100: Instructions for the Government of the Armies of the United States in the Field, better known as the Lieber Code; it established rules for the humane treatment of civilians in areas of conflict and forbade the execution of prisoners of war. Further it sought the protection of works of art, scientific collections, and hospitals in war-torn areas. These ideas were further developed in the Hague Peace Conferences that were held from 1899-1907 and in the later Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954 and the 1999 Second Protocol). Excerpts of these codes, conventions, and protocols are included in chapter 9 of my books Preserving Our Heritage: Perspectives from antiquity to the digital age (London: Facet, 2015).
Preservation of archives is the means by which the survival of selected material is ensured for enduring access.
Perceptions that archivists preserved materials just for the sake of it are out of date and incorrect, if indeed they were ever correct; preservation and access are two parts of the same mission.
Without sustained preservation activity it would not be possible to satisfy the myriad of users worldwide who beat a path to the door of archives and record offices, or who search for information on the web.
Using archives has become a popular pastime for young and old, whether they are researching family history, requesting information under Freedom of Information Acts or pursuing historical facts.
This increasing trend is unlikely to reverse and more than ever organizations must ensure that the material will be available, not only to the current generation but also to those of the future. Organizations must, as a matter of policy, look beyond their immediate requirements and utilize strategies and techniques to ensure that the originals, or if that is impossible the information contained in them, will be available for as long as needed.
Preserving Archives, 2nd edition by Helen Forde and Jonathan Rhys-Lewis is designed to give readers the tools to manage preservation issues; it is not a manual on how to cope with every eventuality as these differ widely and advice for one archive might be quite inappropriate for another. Alongside this is the key intention; to act as a lead and guide for the varying needs, questions and research of fellow professionals charged with the responsibility of preservation.