U.S. institutions hold more than 4.8 billion items and libraries alone hold 3 billion of them – 63 percent of the whole. A treasure trove of uncounted additional items is held by individuals, families, and communities. These collections include books, manuscripts, photographs, prints and drawings, and objects such as maps, textiles, paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, and furniture, to give just a sample. They include moving images and sound recordings that capture performing arts, oral history, and other records of our creativity and history. Digital collections are growing fast, and their formats quickly become obsolescent, if not obsolete.
Some 630 million items in collecting institutions require immediate attention and care but eighty percent of these institutions have no paid staff assigned responsibility for collections care and 22 percent have no collections care personnel at all. Some 2.6 billion items are not protected by an emergency plan. As natural disasters of recent years have taught us, these resources are in jeopardy should a disaster strike. Personal, family, and community collections are equally at risk.
HF Group supports Preservation Week to increase the awareness of and highlight the need for care of these irreplaceable collections.