Notes from IHA

Notes from IHA

May was designated as Preservation Month. Starting with programs in April that led up to May, observances of MayDay on May 1, and activities continuing throughout the month, national organizations and state and local partners offered numerous opportunities to participate in historic preservation, care of objects, and disaster planning. Some resources remain available.

The Illinois Heritage Association helped to raise awareness about disaster planning, participating in a two-day workshop, “When Water Emergencies Strike Your Collection: Response Training and Workshop,” April 25-26, at the Museum of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, Missouri. I was one of the presenters, as was Bronwyn Eves, a private conservator. The workshop included a salvage exercise. There were extensive handouts, including guidelines on handling objects, information on mold, salvaging techniques, respirators, emergency supply lists, assessing and mitigating risks, and record keeping. Handouts on specific topics are available from the IHA office.

Heritage Preservation, the national organization dedicated to preserving the cultural, historic, and scientific heritage of the United States, also raised awareness about disaster planning through events related to MayDay. An April 17 webinar focused on the Incident Command System (ICS). The power point by David Carmichael from this webinar, The Supercharged Management System: Applying the Incident Command System in Cultural Repositories, is available at That URL also has a program from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on ICS that explains how it relates to the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

Heritage Preservation offered its award-wining emergency resources at special MayDay prices through May 31. And each week in May, Heritage Preservation posted disaster preparedness tips on its Facebook page. An example is a guide to using a portable fire extinguisher. Heritage Preservation invited any cultural institution to go to by May 31 to submit a brief description of its 2014 MayDay plans or accomplishments. Each institution would then be entered in a drawing for disaster supplies donated by Gaylord Brothers.

The Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS) recognized Preservation Week, April 27-May 3, with two free webinars, Low-Cost Ways to Preserve Family Archives and Preserving Scrapbooks. Both were excellent and are archived at, the website of the American Library Association, of which ALCTS is a division. Besides recordings of the webinars, the Q&A sections are available on the website and provide answers to specific preservation questions. The website also contains additional webinars available for download.

As in years past, the National Trust for Historic Preservation encouraged preservation and Main Street organizations to use Preservation Month to showcase how they celebrate and save historic places year-round. This year’s theme, “New Age of Preservation: Embark, Inspire, Engage,” was meant to excite current supporters and introduce new audiences to the work being done to enrich and preserve the places that make communities special. The National Trust website,, offers ideas about how communities could participate, including a cleanup day at a historic house museum or along a historic Main Street; lectures, workshops, or demonstrations; or hosting a walking tour, a wine tasting, an open house, living history events, a special exhibit, or a photograph contest.

The National Day of Action, America’s Preparathon!, promoted by FEMA, inspired more than five million people to participate in preparedness activities on April 30,  and  Do 1 Thing, a nonprofit organization that offers a twelve-month program to prepare for emergencies and disasters, gave tips on its website,,  about getting involved in preparedness through small steps. Activities leading up to and focusing on Preservation Month helped to raise awareness about the need for preservation planning, but it’s a year-round concern that needs participation from families, communities, and national groups. The IHA library has helpful resources.