Specialty Group & Network Columns

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Note: ASG, CAN!, CIPP, ECPN, and WAG did not submit columns for this issue.

Book and Paper Group (BPG)

Book and Paper Group Members,

As I reflect on the upheaval we have weathered in 2020, I feel grateful to be embarking on a new year filled with hope, even as I acknowledge the many ongoing challenges we must face in 2021. For many of us, the physical isolation that has been necessary to keep us safe and healthy during the pandemic has also had a negative impact on our mental and emotional well-being. In the new year, I hope that we will find new ways not only to stay connected, but even to strengthen our community. I am encouraged and energized by my many colleagues, both within BPG and in other specialties, who have committed themselves to integrating diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion (DEAI) concerns into their work for our organization. By focusing on removing obstacles to inclusivity in our organization, we build a better community, improve our professional practice, deepen our profession’s positive impact, and ensure our profession’s sustainability.


So, what does this work look like in the day-to-day practice of our BPG volunteers? 

  • The BPG Wiki has added a new page on East Asian scrolls, and new Chinese translations to the BPG Glossary of Terms. (See the column New Materials, Research & Resources on page 26 for details.)
  • In the coming months, our wiki editors plan to focus on expanding wiki content about binding structures beyond the Western bookbinding tradition. If you have broad ideas or specific content to contribute, please get in touch with BPG wiki editors Diane Knauf (paper) and Michelle Smith (book). 
  • The BPG Publications Committee has been reconsidering how its information is archived and how new committee members are selected. 
  • DEAI considerations have been incorporated into the development of programming for the AIC Annual Meeting; the rubric used by all AIC reviewers, including BPG, for evaluating abstracts was updated this year to emphasize diversity and inclusion. 
  • The BPG Executive Officers are revisiting our policies and practices to identity obstacles that prevent full participation by our membership. 
  • We are reconsidering ways in which we have traditionally recruited for volunteer and elected positions and are investigating new opportunities for community partnerships.

Among the broader BPG membership, colleagues at University of Michigan and SUNY Buffalo State College are investigating Native American book making practices, while conversations about repatriation of book and manuscript materials are taking place informally and formally on social media and in written news articles. Colleagues at UCLA Library are proposing a more intentional approach to the selection, documentation, and treatment of racist library materials; if you haven’t read it yet, I recommend Michelle Smith’s excellent blog post https://www.library.ucla.edu/blog/preservation/2020/09/29/thoughts-on-conserving-racist-materials-in-libraries about this topic. BPG colleagues at Brown University, Duke University, the Harry Ransom Center at UT Austin, Harvard University, the Library of Congress, the University of Delaware, the University of Kansas, and Winterthur will continue their partnership with the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Library Alliance in 2021 for a fourth summer of paid internships that mentor HBCU undergraduates interested in careers in librarianship and preservation. If you’re wondering how to approach your own professional practice with an eye toward DEAI, the AIC Equity and Inclusion Committee has compiled a fantastic list of resources. Let’s continue reaching out to colleagues to share ideas and keep these exciting conversations moving forward.

These are just a few of the efforts I have heard about recently, and I know many more of you are also actively engaged in incorporating a social justice mindset into your professional practice. This work cannot be accomplished in a few well-intentioned gestures, and is not unique to the disruptions, violence, and social unrest of 2020; it will take continued, sustained effort and will take on many guises. I am proud to be doing this work alongside all of you.

—Melissa Tedone, BPG Chair, melissatedone.bpg@gmail.com

Find BPG information at www.culturalheritage.org/book-and-paper-group

Collection Care Network (CCN)

Materials Working Group update

Congratulations to the AIC Materials Working Group on a successful 2020 virtual meeting! The MWG is a professional community united in developing guidelines and best practices for selecting, evaluating, and disseminating materials used in collection care. To learn more about the MWG, check out their wiki pages at https://www.conservation-wiki.com/wiki/Materials_Working_Group. If you’re interested in getting involved with the Materials Working Group, contact Becky Kaczkowski (kaczkowskir@si.edu), MWG Chair.

Smithsonian Safety and Cultural Heritage Summit Summary

Congratulations to all the organizers and presenters at the virtual Safety and Cultural Heritage Summit. Seventeen presenters filled this jam-packed summit on October 29 and 30, 2020, with presentations on a variety of health and safety topics with more than 450 people in attendance. CCN especially congratulates Sam Snell, CCN Communications and Outreach Chair, for her work in organizing and moderating the summit.

2021 AIC/SPNHC Joint Virtual Annual Meeting

CCN is happy to announce that it will be offering sessions on the following themes:

  • Collection care adaptations
  • Caring for hazardous materials (co-sponsored with the Health & Safety Network)
  • Integrated pest management (IPM)
  • Collection storage
  • Pre-session on Choosing Materials for Storage, Exhibit, and Transport

More information on the schedule of talks will be announced in the coming months. See the meeting program webpage to learn more.

Leadership Opportunities

Officer Positions

Are you passionate about preventive conservation and collection care? Have you been looking for a way to get more involved in a leadership role in AIC? CCN is currently looking to fill three officer positions with terms from May 2021 to May 2024.

  • Program Chair
    The Program Chair is responsible for the management of activities that develop CCN programming for AIC’s annual meeting. This includes identifying themes, developing calls for papers, supervising the review of abstracts, attending AIC annual meeting planning sessions, and identifying officers or members to manage and/or moderate CCN programming at the annual meeting. The Program Chair may also spearhead joint sessions and/or workshops.
  • Editor
    The Editor is responsible for providing oversight of content produced by the CCN. The CCN Editor works with AIC’s editors (JAIC, AIC News and e-Editor) to ensure appropriate dissemination on AIC’s print and/or electronic platforms. The Editor contributes regular update reports to AIC News and leads the effort to write the lead article when the publication cycles mandates (every few years).
  • Liaison Officer
    The Liaison Officer is the point of contact for CCN efforts to build connections and foster collaboration within AIC including reaching out to specialty groups, committees, networks, and pertinent task forces. A core duty is to maintain connections to relevant initiatives such as the Materials Working Group (MWG) and Promoting Exhibit Access and Security (PEAS). The Liaison Officer will work on establishing external partnerships as appropriate to foster collection care efforts among allied professional groups and work with other CCN officers to grow those relationships such as through programming at the annual meeting and through resources posted in print, on the web, and through social media.

All applicants should have a strong interest in furthering preventive conservation and collection care. CCN Officers meet once a month via online conferencing tools, as well as during AIC’s annual meeting.

For further information or to apply, email CCN Chair Mary Coughlin at coughlin@gwu.edu. Applicants should include a letter of interest and CV by February 15, 2021.

As an AIC board-appointed network, CCN leadership selections must be approved by the AIC Board. Every effort is made to ensure that the CCN Officers are diverse with respect to geographic locations and representation of various professional roles as conservators and allied preservation professionals at large and small museums and in private practice.

—Kelly M. Krish, CCN Editor, kmkpph@rit.edu

Find CCN information at www.culturalheritage.org/collection-care-network

Health & Safety Network (H&SN)

2021 AIC/SPNHC Joint Virtual Annual Meeting

The Health & Safety Network (H&SN) is working on a joint session with the Collections Care Network (CCN) on hazardous materials. We are excited to collaborate on this topic to reach a broader audience! We are also working on a possible session about lead safety with Monona Rossol and Ariana Makau. Fit testing is still important, so we are investigating ways to provide virtual guidance to ensure your respirator fits properly.

Professional Alliances

The Health & Safety Network liaises with professionals in the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) Museum and their Cultural Heritage Safety Working Group to provide additional safety resources to our members, facilitate teaching collaborations, help spread awareness of the field to industrial hygienists, and promote networking between conservators and safety professionals.

The Network also would like to congratulate our current (and former) Network leadership colleagues who showcased their research and work at the 5th annual Smithsonian Safety and Cultural Heritage Summit, which took place on October 29 and 30, 2020. Kudos to Jo Anne Martinez-Kilgore (rodent infestation cleaning protocols), Kim Harmon (options/alternatives for N95s), and Adrienne Gendron and Kerith Koss Schrager (ethical considerations for removing hazardous materials from collection objects) for their helpful and interesting presentations. If you’d like to learn more about these and other topics from the 2020 Safety and Cultural Heritage Summit (co-sponsored by the AIHA), please go to the Smithsonian National Collections Program website at https://ncp.si.edu/ in January 2021.

H&S Wiki

Our officers are updating the Health & Safety wiki pages throughout the annual AIC Wiki Edit-a-thon in January. Please contact Katherine Ridgway at katherine.ridgway@dhr.virginia.gov if you find broken links or have an idea for a new resource to add.

H&S Forum

We are in planning stages for a new online Health & Safety Forum that will bring together the AIHA Museum Working Group and those who care for collections, manage labs, deal with potentially toxic chemicals, and more.

Please send comments or questions to us at health-safety@culturalheritage.org.

—Tara Kennedy, H&SN chair, tara.d.kennedy@yale.edu

Find H&SN information at www.culturalheritage.org/healthandsafety

Objects Specialty Group (OSG)

Seeking Participation: January Wiki-a-thon!

Each year, January is designated as Wiki-a-thon month, and although OSG officers are busy submitting contributions to our specialty group wiki page, we are seeking your help as well. 

Please consider contributing photographs, text (in a Word document), or content changes to the wiki pages. Not sure what to submit? We are specifically looking for:

  • Images of copper or silver related to their history, their materials, their technology, their corrosion products, preventive care, or treatment.
  • Text to accompany sections about copper or silver related to their history, their materials, their technology, their corrosion products, preventive care, or treatment.
  • Images of hand tools you use all the time.
  • Images or a list of your top-most frequently used three pieces of lab equipment.
  • Results of surveys conducted on the various list serves.
  • Anything you’ve looked for on the OSG Wiki and DIDN’T find it – help us fill it out!

Thank you so much for your time and contributions. Please feel free to contact the OSG Wiki Editor Robin O’Hern at osgwiki@gmail.com.

—Fran Ritchie, OSG Chair (2020-2021), franritchie@gmail.com 

Find OSG information at www.culturalheritage.org/objects-group.

Paintings Specialty Group (PSG)

Happy New Year! I hope that you all are finding ways to stay healthy and find joy this winter. With the New Year I’m finding time to reflect on all that we learned in 2020 despite the challenges we faced together. Technology and necessity led to advances in accessibility and access. We have had important conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the field. 

Thank you to everyone has submitted nominations for the AIC Painting Award. The Painting Awards Committee will review nominations and look forward to celebrating with our colleagues at the 2021 AIC/SPNHC Joint Virtual Annual Meeting. 

2021 AIC/SPNHC Joint Virtual Annual Meeting

Program Chair Mary Catherine Betz and Assistant Program Chair Kathryn Harada are hard at work on putting together an engaging program for the 2021 meeting. Early rates are available until February 28th, so register soon!

PSG Wiki

If you have not visited the PSG Wiki lately, I invite you to take another look at this resource: https://www.conservation-wiki.com/wiki/Paintings. The Wiki Committee is dedicated to building this resource and welcomes contributions from specialty group members. Questions or ideas for new content on the PSG Wiki are welcome and should be directed to the PSG Wiki Chief Editor, Kari Rayner, aic.psg.wiki@gmail.com.

—Cynthia Schwarz, PSG Group Chair, cynthia.schwarz@yale.edu 

Find PSG information at www.culturalheritage.org/paintings-group

Photographic Materials Group (PMG)

PMG Leadership

I would like to thank Luisa Casella for accepting the position of PMG Wiki Coordinator. Luisa has made tremendous improvements to the wiki by coordinating the group of contributors and setting outlines and contents to fill out in this year. 

2021 AIC/SPNHC Joint Virtual Annual Meeting

This year, AIC’s annual meeting will happen jointly with the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC) and it will take place virtually starting in May 2021. PMG will offer four sessions of presentations during the week of June 14-18, including: 

  • Our PMG session
  • Two joint sessions with the Book and Paper Group (BPG)
  • Our PMG business meeting

We are extremely pleased with the program and are sure you will enjoy it very much. Efforts also were made to avoid scheduling PMG and BPG sessions in concurrent time slots.

PMG Workshops

I am happy two announce two workshops on chemistry and deterioration of photographs, by Douglas Nishimura and Scott Williams, to be offered during the 2021 AIC/SPNHC Joint Virtual Annual Meeting. Stay tuned for this opportunity to learn from two of our scientist colleagues with the most expertise in photographic chemistry and years of teaching experience. More details will be provided soon.

The FAIC Collaborative Workshops in Photograph Conservation Committee welcomes ideas about future workshop or symposium topics tailored for PMG and the wider conservation community. Please reach out to a committee member or submit your proposals through the AIC webpage at culturalheritage.org/events/learning/propose-a-workshop.

Opportunities to Collaborate/contribute

Please consider these opportunities:

  • Contact Luisa Casella to become a PMG Wiki contributor at luisa.casella@gmail.com or wiki.pmg@gmail.com
  • Share your work through social media and send your ideas to Sarah Casto (sarahcasto@gmail.com), PMG Social Media Coordinator, or Katelin Lee, AIC Social Media Coordinator (klee@culturalheritage.org).
  • Provide your ideas on how to partner with the Equity and Inclusion Committee (EIC) or about specific areas of need within the PMG community (rnamde@getty.edu).
  • Join an ISO subgroup on standards for museums, libraries, and cultural heritage institutions such as the ISO TC42 Working Group 5 Physical Properties and Image Permanence of Photographic materials (a new group for cultural heritage and preservation looking for new members from our community); contact Joe LaBarca, jlabarca@rochester.rr.com, if you are interested.

—Fernanda Valverde, PMG Chair, chair.pmg@gmail.com

Find PMG information at www.culturalheritage.org/photographic-materials-group

Research and Technical Studies (RATS)

2021 AIC/SPNHC Joint Virtual Annual Meeting

RATS is pleased to partner with the newly formed Imaging Working Group (IWG) and the Society for Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC) to present two joint sessions alongside our regular RATS sessions for the 2021 AIC/SPNHC Joint Virtual Annual Meeting, to be convened online in May 2021. The draft slate of talks has been published. For further information on the annual meeting, please visit: https://www.culturalheritage.org/meeting.

RATS Business: Voting

Three important ballot measures have been put to the membership in the past months: 

  • Approval of the revised Rules of Order
  • A potential change to the name/acronym of the specialty group
  • The possibility of providing free RATS membership to Student and Post Graduate AIC members for a period of one year (2021).

The Rules of Order were revised by specialty group leadership and AIC staff to streamline and standardize language across the groups. The proposed revisions were put to a vote by membership on October 21, 2020. With 37 votes received, the revised Rules of Order were adopted unanimously. The revised Rules of Order can be accessed here: https://aiconservation.egnyte.com/dl/yospuFRrSC.

A potential change to the name and/or acronym of RATS has been discussed in our online community forum over the past year and was also debated at this year’s business meeting. This ballot measure was put to membership on November 2, 2020. With 98 votes received, 44 voted in favor of a change, 43 against, and 12 abstained. While it is clear that opinion is evenly divided on this matter, the vote did not achieve the necessary 2/3 majority to amend our Rules of Order; therefore, the RATS name and acronym will continue to be used.  

In addition, after the spontaneous outpouring of financial support for student registration to the 2020 AIC Virtual Annual Meeting, RATS members at the business meeting discussed granting free membership to student and post graduate AIC members for a trial period of one year. This ballot was also put to membership on November 2, 2020. Of the 98 votes received, 93 were in favor, two against, and three abstained.  RATS membership for the year 2021 is now free to student and post-graduate members of AIC. 

Nominating Committee

A volunteer nominating committee has been empaneled, consisting of Chair Emeritus Matthew Clarke, former Chair Emerita Karen Trentelman, and Kirsten Moffitt. RATS officers have advised the nominating committee to abide by the recommendations in the EIC Strategic Plan when considering candidates in addition to the traditional considerations of balancing conservators and conservation scientists as well as geographic locations. Pursuant to these objectives, the nominating committee has been directed to identify a minimum of two qualified candidates for the positions of Assistant Program Chair, Secretary/Treasurer, and Publications Chair.

If you would like to nominate yourself or others, please contact Nominating Committee Chair Matthew Clarke at clarkem@si.edu or one of the other members.

—Gregory Bailey, RATS Chair, gbailey@thewalters.org

Find RATS information at www.culturalheritage.org/research-technical-studies

Textile Specialty Group (TSG)

2021 AIC/SPNHC Joint Virtual Annual Meeting

This year’s TSG program for the annual meeting includes an intimate group of talks focusing on analysis and treatment. The selection committee thanks all who submitted abstracts during these unconventional times. These past several months have been challenging and have shed light on problems that we didn’t know we would have to face while working for our institutions, running our private practices, and teaching new conservators. However, the pandemic has also opened doors to creative solutions. To highlight these solutions, our program will include: “Lessons Learned: Pandemic Edition,” a roundtable discussion to share insights from this past year.

Please remember that a substantially discounted early bird conference fee is applicable until February 28th, 2021.

IAG Meeting

The AIC’s Internal Advisory Group (IAG) was held on November 20, 2020, via Zoom. The full-day meeting included updates and discussions about work being done by the diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) and the Membership Designation Working Group (MDWG). Prior to the IAG meeting, AIC leadership participated in a session about DEIA issues and organizational culture that was given by Dr. Brea Heidelburg. Please review the Equity and Inclusion Committee (EIC) strategic plan for more information. The MDWG reviewed current suggestions to change the membership designation system. Deborah Trupin and Nancy Pollack, as co-chairs of the committee, have been working to evaluate membership needs and benefits of member designations. Further explanation of their work can be found at Defining the Conservator: Essential Competencies, and Requisite Competencies for Conservation Technicians and Collection Care

Nominating Committee

TSG’s Nominating Committee seeks nominations for three positions to begin after the next annual meeting in May 2021.

  • Vice Chair (program chair): A one-year term, and then transitions into the position of Chair for one year.
  • Secretary: A two-year team. A secretary may choose to serve for 2 consecutive terms.
  • Nominating Committee member: A three-year term, transitioning to chair of the nominating committee during the 3rd year.

You can find guidelines for each of these positions in the Library -> Governance -> Leadership Guidelines folder in the TSG Online Community. Please note that if you are interested in the Vice Chair position, we encourage you to also read the chair guidelines because the Vice Chair transitions into the Chair position after one year.

To nominate someone or yourself, or for more information, please contact any member of the Nominating Committee including Sarah Scaturro, Jackie Peterson-Grace, Rebecca Summerour, and ex-officio member Julia Carlson. We highly encourage self-nominations!

TSG Achievement Award

TSG is seeking nominations for the AIC-Textiles Specialty Group Achievement Award. This award will be presented to an individual or entity that has promoted, defended, and worked in support of the importance of textiles and their need for preservation. Dedication to the organization over their years of membership will be taken into consideration as well as commitment, leadership and continuous contribution to the field of textile conservation, with a preference for nominees who are a Professional Associate (PA) or Fellow of AIC. The proposer/nominator and the sponsor should provide strong evidence in writing of the nominee’s commitment to the field in areas such as research, analysis, conservation, teaching, and support of the textile conservation community. The proposer/nominator and the sponsor must be an Associate, a PA, or a Fellow of AIC. The deadline is February 15, 2021.

—Ann Frisina, TSG Chair, heartland.textile.ps@gmail.com

Find TSG information at www.culturalheritage.org/textiles-group

Note: ASG, CAN!, CIPP, ECPN, and WAG did not submit columns for this issue.

Next column: Classifieds >>