In January the Special Collections of the UT Health Science Center Libraries received a $5,547 Preservation Assistance grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Special Collections houses the P. I. Nixon Medical Historical Library, a collection of rare and historical books on the history of the health sciences; and the University Archives, a collection of historical papers and audiovisuals documenting the history of the university and of physicians and other health care professionals practicing in San Antonio and Central and South Texas in the 1800’s and 1900’s. The books and archives are housed in several different locations on the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th floors of the Briscoe Library.
The NEH grant will pay for a preservation/conservation assessment of the collections by a professional materials conservator, who will help draft a long-range plan for the care of the collections. The conservator , Rebecca Elder, will visit the Special Collections to assess policies, practices, and conditions affecting the care and preservation of the collections. She will make recommendations for improving the storage or re-housing of collections, prioritize future preservation action on aging materials, and suggest appropriate preservation supplies.
The grant will also pay for the purchase of environmental monitoring equipment, allowing library staff to track environmental conditions in the various collection locations, and to adjust temperature, humidity, and dew point to create the best preservation conditions possible.
Anna Beyer, a University of North Texas Library and Information Science student, will work as an intern in Special Collections during Spring 2011. She will help with the preservation needs identified by the consultant and record and analyze environmental data information.