The Heritage Health Index, a landmark study conducted by Heritage Preservation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services in 2004, indicated that there were more than 48 million objects and artifacts held in public trust by over 30,000 institutions in the United States. By the survey’s best estimates, collectively these institutions are stewards of 270 million rare books and scrapbooks, 152 million photographs, 4.7 million works of art, and 189 million natural science specimens. Many of these collections were considered, at the time of the survey, to be “at risk and [to] require immediate attention and care.”
The Yale University Library’s share includes 15 million bound volumes and close to 2 million photographs. Sound recordings and moving images add thousands of unique documentary and other content to that total. Digital files and their dependent software raise the stakes exponentially for cultural heritage preservation, presenting new challenges. Caring for a collection of the size, breadth, and depth of the Yale Library may seem an impossible task, and yet it is the daily mission of the dedicated and talented staff of the Library’s Center for Preservation and Conservation.
This exhibit showcases the artistic, scientific, and technological solutions executed by preservation specialists and conservation experts who accept the mission to preserve and conserve. Each look inside the Center’s laboratories and workrooms is paired with at-home strategies to inspire visitors to make it their mission to preserve their treasures or those of their families or communities.