Preserving Photographic Glass Plates:
Conservation and Access in the Digital Age
The WPI is pleased to announce its participation at the 50th annual conference of the Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA). The conference took place April 5–9, 2022 at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago, IL.
On April 6, 2022, our panel, “Preserving Photographic Glass Plates: Conservation and Access in the Digital Age” brought together an interdisciplinary panel of conservators, historians, and archivists who presented their own preservation and public access strategies and discuss the relevance of these materials to their distinct fields of study. The moderated Q&A portion of the session emphasized the need for collaboration between institutions to undertake ambitious conservation-related projects and improve access to these significant materials.
Executive Director, WPI New York
Curator, Endangered Archives Programme, The British Library, London, UK
Archives for Cinema, Photography and Sound Recording, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Butterworth introduced the British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme (EAP), which facilitates the digitization of archives around the world that are in danger of destruction, neglect or physical deterioration. Bayanbat, a recent EAP grantee, presented the holdings of The Archives for Cinema, Photography and Sound Recording in Mongolia, which house over 160,000 photo negatives, including 10,552 glass plate negatives and their digitization process.
Associate University Librarian for Information Technology and Digital Scholarship, University of Chicago Library, Chicago, IL
Long discussed the Library’s collection of 175,000 images of astronomical objects on photographic glass plate slides from Yerkes Observatory and how it offers tremendous research opportunities for historians of science, astronomers, and astrophysicists.
Director, Centre de Recherches et de Documentation du Sénégal (CRDS), Saint-Louis, Senegal
Preventive Conservation Specialist, Université Gaston Berger, Saint-Louis, Senegal
Fall presented her institution’s collections of glass plates, and discussed how her team was able to identify sitters in a series of portraits.
Director of Digital Archival Projects, WPI New York
Canac shared examples of the WPI’s glass plate negatives, and discussed how the long-term preservation of these objects requires guidance and a significant commitment of resources that smaller institutions often lack.