December 14, 2004
National Archives Recognized as Leader in Preservation
Receives top award for "Commitment to Preservation and Care of Collections"
Washington, DC. . . The National Archives has been awarded the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) and Heritage Preservation Award for Outstanding Commitment to the Preservation and Care of Collections. This award recognizes the National Archives' dedication to high standards of conservation policy and practice. The award also highlights the high priority the National Archives has given to conservation concerns and the commitment it has shown to the preservation and care of cultural property.
Archivist of the United States John Carlin stated: "I applaud and commend the dedicated National Archives' preservation staff for its ongoing work to preserve and protect our national treasures." The agency has a highly qualified preservation staff of more than 100 professionals known nationally and internationally for their expertise and contributions in the areas of paper, photograph and book conservation; audio, video and motion picture preservation; photography reformatting, microfilming and digital imaging. Preservation staff includes conservators, dynamic media preservation specialists, scientists, photography and imaging preservation specialists, among others.
On September 17, 2003 at the rededication ceremony for the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, President George Bush spoke of NARA's work in conserving the Charters of Freedom:
The work of handling the fragile parchment and preparing it for these new encasements had to be difficult – and must have been pretty nerve-wracking. I don't know how you practice for a job like that. But I do know there's little margin for error. And so, to all the professionals involved in this great task, we thank you for your work, and we thank you for the contribution to our country.
Preservation staff at the National Archives work together with the archivists, curators, facility managers and many others to preserve the permanently valuable records of the Federal Government. In fact, all NARA staff contribute to the preservation of NARA holdings – whether they work daily with researchers, create finding aids for records, provide records management training, develop policy and budgets, or ensure that NARA facilities provide appropriate preservation environments. Successful preservation efforts are part of the fulfillment of the agency's mission "to ensure ready access to essential evidence . . . that documents the rights of American citizens, the actions of federal officials, and the national experience."
The enormous size and diversity of the holdings of the National Archives combine to form a daunting preservation challenge, which is made even more complex by the number of NARA facilities across the country. However, NARA has responded systematically and effectively to this challenge over the years by building in-house technical expertise among the range of staff who use, serve and preserve the holdings, by initiating broad programs to assess and characterize the preservation risks to various record formats, by educating researchers and the public about preservation, and by developing and implementing appropriate preservation and conservation procedures to ensure the preservation of original records and the information they contain.
The AIC and Heritage Preservation strongly praised the National Archives: "NARA has been on the cutting edge of preservation and conservation technologies. The committee commends the agency for going beyond its mandate as well as for its forward thinking and its contributions to the field through sharing results of its research and providing venues for communication and discussion."
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For press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at 202-501-5526.