Library Coffee Chat: Supporting Students with Remote Learning; Preservation Overview

I had the pleasure today of attending a Zoom-based UC Berkeley Library talk on preservation and conservation, led by Hannah Tashjian and sponsored by the Library Development Office. As preface, University Librarian Jeff MacKie-Mason gave an update about Library activities during the pandemic.

LDO also noted an upcoming panel, UC Research Should Be Free to All: COVID-19 Shows Us Why, on 16 Oct 2020.

Supporting Students, Supporting Research Needs

Earlier this year, the Library had halted ordering physical materials for several months because it wasn’t possible to ship or receive them—but they’re back to processing acquisitions. Research services exist by appointment, including in person with appropriate precautions for Bancroft (rare book, manuscript, art collections) and microfilm materials.

Oski Xpress pickup services are currently limited to Gardner Stacks and Morrison Room holdings because those are the spaces where library staff are permitted currently to operate in person. Gaining access to other spaces for reshelving and paging is in progress. It’s complex because the navigable areas need to be mapped out, water fountains closed off, etc. Then they need to plan out how many individuals can be in the space at once, make PPE available, make clear requests of Facilities staff for additional cleaning and maintenance, and identify who will actually enter the building, with the relevant approvals. Understandably, the preparation takes significant effort and time….


Hannah Tashjian joined the Preservation unit in 2005 (which used to be called Conservation, memory says); she’s served as its interim head since 2018. She gave an overview of the unit’s mission and primary strategies, then showed some tools and spoke about what we can learn from mending and sometimes re-mending materials—printed books, bound manuscript codices, fragments of Tebtunis papyrus, art posters, and … a javelin in the University Archives. I recognized Samuel L. Clemens’s handwriting immediately from an 1873 letter shown in one slide, and I enjoyed hearing about the Western notebooks from which mold had been removed. The twenty minutes of Q&A that followed Tashjian’s talk included a lively discussion of digitization sustainability.

I’ve no current affiliation other than alum. For more information and to support UC Berkeley Library activities and staff, please contact the Library Development Office or its executive director, Louise Gregory.