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Banding Together to Preserve Indiana's Treasures

Stacks-Library 6-26-07(04).jpgLast year, IHS received a Connecting to Collections grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services to fund a comprehensive assessment of Indiana’s heritage collections needs. With the expert assistance of the Hoosier Heritage Alliance partners, a survey was created and mailed to 1,028 custodians of Indiana’s heritage, including historical societies, genealogical groups, archives and libraries, museums and preservation groups.

Based on the survey responses, Indiana heritage organizations hold more than 20 million historical objects and historical documents that would fill 424,000 linear feet of shelf space. The average size of a responding organization’s collections is 21,188 objects and 441 linear feet.

“We weren’t surprised to discover that not only does Indiana hold a wealth of historical material, but also that many groups lack the awareness, training and resources to care for their collections in the best way possible,” says Jeff Harris, director, IHS Local History Services.

The HHA report concluded that many custodians of Indiana heritage need to learn more about their own collections and how to care for and manage them, and need funding for storage furniture and archival materials. The IHS Local History Services department, with help from the HHA Partners, is pursuing another IMLS grant to implement many of the survey report recommendations.

“The HHA survey presented us with a very compelling picture of the condition of Indiana’s historical treasures,” Jeff says. “Our next challenge will be to take concrete steps to help Indiana institutions better care for our historical inheritance and legacy for the future.”

What does the average heritage organization collection contain?

32% Books and bound volume
20% Historic objects
12% Unbound sheets
12% Photographic materials
8% Archaeological materials
5% Textiles
4% Art objects
3% Natural science specimens
1% Moving images
1% Recorded sound
1% Digital materials
1% Ethnographic objects