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Paul N. Banks and the Moorings of Library and Archives
Paul Banks in Florence just after the Flood in 1966.
Little critical attention has been given to the history of the library and archives conservation field and specialization. Disciplining Conservation addresses this historical silence, narrating the period from the 1950s through the 1980s, when the nascent profession emerges from the stirrings of a “craft” activity to become an area of advanced study in the academy. Cunningham-Kruppa questions the philosophical, theoretical, and practical “nature” of library and archives conservation. She asks why it took so long for the specialization to win a seat in the academy, and interrogates the positioning of conservation education in the library and information science domain. Finally, she suggests that the forces that historically destabilized the field’s moorings in higher education continue to resonate in today’s conversations targeted at defining the specialization's intellectual, disciplinary, and socio-cultural domain in the academy.
Disciplining Conservation traces the professional career of Paul N. Banks (1934–2000): his far-reaching networks; his early, long, and deep involvement in the field; and his work, thinking, and actions that allowed meaningful insights into the world in which he operated. Banks became one of the nation’s first conservators to head a conservation department in a research library, and in 1978 the first library and archives conservator to become president of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.
In 1981 he assumed the helm as director of the first graduate education program dedicated to preserving collections held in the nation’s libraries and archives. When the first class of three conservator students of the Conservation Education Programs began graduate study in fall 1981 in the School of Library Service of Columbia University in New York City, Banks realized his long-time dream, one that had been foremost in his thoughts and had driven him professionally for twenty years.