Date of this Version
Report of the Kansas Library Network Board's Preservation Committee to the citizens of Kansas
As the twenty-first century approaches, Kansas librarians, archivists, genealogists, records managers, and historians are seeking solutions to a crisis.
The crisis is the disintegration of the state's information resources. Documents recording births, deaths, inheritances and laws are all susceptible to the degradation of the materials on which they are recorded.
Neither paper nor optical disk will survive forever—acidic paper becomes embrittled in 50–80 years; optical disks and the equipment to access the information upon them may not last fifteen years.
Despite the inevitability of some loss, much can be done to alleviate the problem and to assure that these resources are not lost forever.
In 1991–92, the Kansas Library Network Board Preservation Committee received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. This grant enabled the committee to involve hundreds of people across Kansas in developing the solutions presented here.
During the planning process, participants advocated steps to:
• Establish an administrative structure for providing preservation services in Kansas.
• Develop preservation expertise by providing information and educational opportunities.
• Preserve information resources while encouraging improvements in access.
• Gain support for preservation by raising awareness of the public, elected officials and administrators.
• Provide improved environmental and storage conditions for collections in Kansas.
• Prepare for disasters that threaten information resources.
• Develop avenues for funding preservation activities.
The most important objective for accomplishing these goals is to establish a state office of preservation within the State Historical Society. Participants envision that this office will serve the needs of all types of repositories.
The office will be responsible for providing educational programs, for producing or disseminating information and literature on various preservation topics, and for referring institutions and individuals to conservators or reformatting agencies.
A preservation council must also be formed. The council will be responsible for starting the preservation office and continuing the efforts of the Network Board's Preservation Committee.
The council's most important charge will be to make the public, elected officials and administrators understand the preservation crisis and the importance of protecting the state's valuable information resources.
Without this public support, our state's recorded heritage will continue to disappear.