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Perham museum director to speak at national forum

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Americans increasingly use the Internet to connect to museum and library resources but the majority of collecting institutions do not yet have a plan for preserving their digital collections, according to the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

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To learn more about preserving digital content, Lina Belar, Director at the History Museum of East Otter Tail County in Perham, and 200 other museum and library representatives, will attend an IMLS-sponsored meeting called "Collaboration in the Digital Age" in Denver, CO, on June 24 and 25.

Belar was selected to participate based on her outstanding leadership skills and is one of 50 participants whose travel expenses will be underwritten by IMLS and the Samuel Kress Foundation.

IMLS is convening this conference in cooperation with the DC-based non-profit Heritage Preservation to underscore the perils collections face and to promote solutions for saving them. Co-sponsoring institutions include the Denver Public Library, the Colorado Historical Society, and the Denver Art Museum.

"This forum will provide museums and libraries the tool to help them think strategically and collaboratively about digitization and digital preservation," said IMLS Director Anne-Imelda Radice, PhD. "IMLS's mission is to connect people with information and ideas and the preservation of objects, books, documents, living collections, and digital materials is an essential part of that."

The forum will cover the fundamentals of digital content creation and preservation, emphasizing practical approaches to planning digital projects, increasing access to collections, and enabling digital resources to serve multiple purposes.

Historic materials are at preservation risk nationwide

The conference is part of IMLS's multi-year, multi-faceted national program, Connecting to Collections: A Call to Action. It is the second of a series of four national forums designed to raise awareness among leaders of small and mid-sized museums and libraries about the importance of collections care and to give them practical information, tools, and resources to inspire action nationwide. The catalyst for the initiative was the 2005 Heritage Health Index (HHI) by Heritage Preservation.

HHI concluded that:

--- 190 million objects held by archives, historical societies, libraries, museums, and scientific organizations in the United States are in need of conservation treatment;

--- 65 percent of collecting institutions have experienced damage to collections due to improper storage;

--- 80 percent of collecting institutions do not have an emergency plan that includes collections, with staff trained to carry it out; and

--- 40 percent of institutions have no funds allocated in their annual budgets for preservation or conservation.

For more information about the Colorado meeting, please visit: http://www.imls.gov/collections/Tour/denver.htm; about the Heritage Health Index, please visit http://heritagepreservation.org/hhi/.

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