BPL News & Information Recommendations


by Public Service Associate & Creative Content Coordinator Hannah

Did you miss Preservation Week? Don’t worry, it will be here next year!

My bad jokes aside, preservation – an umbrella term for activities that reduce or prevent damage to extend the life of things – can easily slip one’s mind. But a recent trip to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and the Library of Congress thoroughly renewed my appreciation for preservationists and collecting institutions. In this BPL blog post, I hope to get you to think about, thank them, and as always share some great books.

I particularly enjoyed seeing Kristi Yamaguchi’s ice skates, Abraham Lincoln’s ink well, and Thomas Jefferson’s books. Did you know that Congress purchased Jefferson’s library – 6,487 volumes – as a replacement for the collection destroyed by the British during the War of 1812? Sadly, a fire on Christmas Eve of 1851 destroyed nearly two-thirds. They are still reassembling.

Published in 2005, the Heritage Health Index (HHI) was the first comprehensive survey of America’s collections’ conditions and preservation needs. Conducted by Heritage Preservation in partnership with the Institute of Library and Museum Services (ILMS), the HHI revealed our nation’s renowned art museums and research libraries, local historical societies, archives, et al. house over 4.8 billion items. And just what are we holding onto? A bit of everything! Books and manuscripts, architectural models, technology, photographs, prints and drawings, maps, appliances, textiles, paintings, sculptures, furniture, film and sound recordings… It all boils down to keeping our history. 

Unfortunately, the HHI also found that immediate action is needed to prevent the loss of millions of these irreplaceable artifacts. Be it the yellowing of a wedding dress, the molding of holiday decorations, or a family photo album with no labels, we all experience the effects of the ten “agents of deterioration.” Multiply these experiences by thousands of objects and add on the need for expert staff and volunteers, unique storage requirements, and unstable public funding and we can see how museums and academic libraries feel. 

Recognizing the need to share knowledge and support, the American Library Association (ALA), the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services, and other professional societies began Preservation Week in 2010. This annual celebration held in the spring (because of spring cleaning vibes?), sees archaeological organizations, libraries, etc. across the U.S. hosting events and posting articles and social media to highlight diligent work, groundbreaking research, and the sharing of best practices. 

Now if that sounds stuffy and far too dusty for you, feel free to put off organizing your heirlooms in favor of enjoying places like the Columbus Museum of Art and the Ohio Railway Museum without peeking behind the scenes. Otherwise, let’s see where Bexley Public Library and Preservation meet.    

The Past and Future City by Stephanie Meeks | Book

In The Past and Future City, Stephanie Meeks, Former CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, describes how saving and restoring historic places directly contributes to thriving neighborhoods, good jobs, and a vibrant economy. Seeing as BPL – the physical building – turns 100 years old in 2029, I must agree.

The Object at Hand by Beth Py-Lieberman | Book

Even with a degree in history and a deep love of art history, museums can be overwhelming. Thankfully Py-Lieberman, a senior editor at Smithsonian magazine, curated an enjoyable guide.

America’s Greatest Library: An Illustrated History of the Library of Congress by John Y. Cole | Book

Murder at the Library of Congress by Margaret Truman | Book

Trapped! by James Ponti | Book

America’s Greatest Library: An Illustrated History of the Library of Congress by John Y. Cole distills over two hundred years of history into an engaging reminder of just how relevant and important this institution is.

If the real toils of thousands of researchers’ obsessions and breakthroughs don’t quite cut it, pick up Murder at the Library of Congress by Margaret Truman to join amateur sleuth Annabel Reed-Smith as she discovers a hornet’s nest of intrigue and murder among the stacks. And for the younger crowd, James Ponti’s Trapped! sees middle schooler Florian Bates – the only kid on the FBI Director’s speed dial and several international criminals’ most wanted lists – must break into, and out of, the Library of Congress. 

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier | Book | eBook

A historical novel, Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier, follows the story of Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot, two real, extraordinary 19th-century fossil hunters who shaped what we know about paleontology and geology. Their mother, sold the Ichthyosauria they found for £23 ($30). You can visit it at the Natural History Museum, London.

The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi | Book

Why include a science fiction novel? Because The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi is fun and oh-so clever! As we follow Jamie Gray, a Manhattan delivery driver turned Alternate Earth animal rights activist, we explore themes of conservation, stewardship, and humanity’s need for teamwork. 

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer | Book

With The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu, journalist Joshua Hammer tells the story of Haidara’s heroic and ultimately successful effort to outwit Al Qaeda and preserve Mali’s – and the world’s – literary patrimony. 

The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer | Book

“There are stories no one knows. Hidden stories. I love those stories. And since I work in the National Archives, I find those stories for a living.” – Beecher White, a young archivist in Brad Meltzer’s The Inner Circle (Culper Ring #1).

Information Hunters by Kathy Peiss | Book

Throughout history, armies have seized enemy art and texts as booty. Information Hunters by Kathy Peiss shares the tale of an unlikely band of librarians, archivists, and scholars who sought to document, exploit, and reinstitute (preserve) these looted works. 

All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake by Tiya Miles | Book

Sitting in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture is a rough cotton embroidered with the message “It be filled with my Love always.” Through All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake historian Tiya Miles carefully follows faint archival traces back to Charleston to find Rose in the kitchen where she may have packed the sack for Ashley.

Cheap Old Houses: An Unconventional Guide to Loving and Restoring a Forgotten Home by Elizabeth & Ethan Finkelstein | Book

The HHI could not account for all buildings and treasure chests. Within the pages of Cheap Old Houses by historical preservationist Elizabeth Finkelstein, you’ll discover sprawling Victorian mansions, Italianate-style farmhouses, off-the-beaten-path cabins, and even old churches turned into residences and see how people saved them. Then join David, BPL’s Local History Librarian, to explore resources that help you find past and present information on your house and property.

Need more? Read the story of Bexley Public Library, pop down to the Local History Center to thumb through our growing collection of Bexley High School Yearbooks, do some surprisingly simple personal digital archiving in the Memory Lab, or visit the Browsing Room to check out Ohio History Connection’s Echoes Magazine to plan adventures across the state’s historic locations and collections. 

This Thursday, May 9 join Steve McVoy, founder of the Early Television Museum, as he traces the evolution and technological marvels that have shaped our viewing experience over the last century. Be sure to ask how he works to preserve all those vintage sets. You can even watch from home on your TV! Live stream this program on BPL TV.

Prefer the silver screen? We continue celebrating the library’s centennial with a showing of Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Jr. 100 years after its premiere in 1924. On Wednesday, May 22, join Tim Lanza, a contributor to the film’s masterful restoration, to talk about saving the golden age of silent cinema and enjoy Keaton’s iconic performance.

So, have I successfully secured the acknowledgment if not the celebration of Preservation Week on your calendar?