As the person in charge of preserving every photograph, manuscript, map, and painting that comes to the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, Irene Martin has more than a little expertise to offer.
As part of the American Library Association's first Preservation Week this week, on Saturday Ms. Martin is to present a how-to program on preserving personal memories at home.
Scrapbooking it's not, but Ms. Martin said her advice could benefit people who make scrapbooks for friends and family members.
For example, she suggests making copies of original photographs to share with family before permanently affixing the original in a scrapbook.
"When you're preserving your memory, don't do anything you can't undo," Ms. Martin cautioned.
Much of what she'll discuss is proper storage of photographs, letters, documents, and newspaper articles so they last for future generations.
"Don't store them in the attic.
It's too hot and too dry," Ms. Martin said. "Don't store them in the basement. It's too wet."
She has examples of what works - albums made with acid-free paper or phase boxes that can hold and preserve fragile books - and what doesn't - magnetic photo pages, Scotch Tape, and glue, to name a few.
"The main thing with preservation," she said, "is do no harm."
Programs like the one planned in Toledo are being held at public libraries nationwide this week.
Jeanne Drewes, chief of binding and collections care at the Library of Congress and chairman of the Preservation Week task force, said family histories and local history collections at libraries are vital.
"I truly believe that much of our national history is held by individuals because that family history is part of our national history, so it behooves all of us to learn more about preserving that history not just for ourselves and our own family, but really because the accumulation of all of that history is what gives us our national history," Ms. Drewes said.
The intent of Preservation Week, she said, is to teach the public simple things to do to care for family memorabilia.
"We are a tactile animal," Ms. Drewes said. "We hold memory in things we can touch. …When families have a disaster like a flood, the thing that they miss the most are not the things that cost the most money but the things that are held closest to their heart."
In 1940, the library in Toledo established its local history and genealogy department to preserve local lore and make it available to researchers.
Ms. Martin said the staff regularly helps people trace their family trees or locate information on ancestors through immigration and census records, obituaries, marriage licenses, birth records, yearbooks, and numerous online sources.
The library also keeps family histories donated to it.
"You've done the research. You're going to give someone 100 years from now a starting point in their research," Ms. Martin said. "… People aren't going to go away. People need to know where they came from."
"Preserving Your Memories at Home," which is free and open to the public, is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday in the McMaster Center at the main library downtown, 325 Michigan St.
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