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Connecting to Collections

Connecting to Collections was founded in 2010 to help cultural institutions, small and large, find information about conservation and best practices for collections care for free.  It came about as part of the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) initiative "Connecting to Collections" (C2C).

Connecting to Collections Programs

History and Legacy

The impetus for the Connecting to Collections program came about to address problems and shortcomings identified in A Public Trust at Risk: The Heritage Health Index Report on the State of America’s Collections (2005). 


The following year, The Institute of Museum and Library Services announced and created Connecting to Collections: A Call to Action as a multi-year, multi-faceted national initiative to raise public awareness and inspire action.

  • Remarks by Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States June 27, 2007 at the National Conservation Summit regarding the nascent Connecting to Collections program. 



For detailed information on the projects outlined below, see the full report to the nation 



Connecting to Collections included many aspects designed to promote improved collections care for the nations museums, libraries, and archives including:


I. A five-city national listening tour and webinars

  • A National Conservation Summit held June 27–28, 2007 in Washington, D.C.

  • Preserving America’s Diverse Heritage held January 31–February 1, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia

  • Collaboration in the Digital Age held June 24–25, 2008 in Denver, Colorado

  • It’s Alive! Petals to Primates: Preservation Challenges of Living Collections held February 19–20, 2009 in San Diego, California Connecting to Collections Programs History and Legacy 2

  • Stewardship of America’s Legacy: Answering the Call to Action held June 16–17, 2009 in Buffalo, New York


II. An International Summit, Connecting to the World’s Collections: Making the Case for the Conservation and Preservation of our Cultural Heritage held October 2009 in Salzburg, Austria. 


III. Connecting to Collections Statewide Planning Grants were awarded to every state, commonwealth, and territory of the United States to create collaborative plans to respond to the recommendations of the Heritage Health Index findings. The individual reports from the state initiatives can be found here and the final analysis of the statewide programs can be found in Connecting to Collections: Analysis of IMLS C2C Statewide Planning Grants


IV. The Connecting to Collections Bookshelf program—a 23-text set of conservation mustreads and online resources designed to help small and medium-sized institutions handle every collections care contingency, from emergency preparedness to digitizing documents, from caring for living collections to training staff and volunteers. 3,000 sets of the Bookshelf were placed in museums, libraries, and archives.

V. The Connecting to Collections Online Community was moderated by Heritage Preservation in cooperation with the American Association for State and Local History and funded by the IMLS beginning in 2010. In December 2014, the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation took over the program and the name changed to Connecting to Collections Care Online Community.


VI. Connecting to Collections Statewide Implementation Grants were awarded to nineteen states to fund projects that implement the plans or models created through IMLS Connecting to Collections Statewide Planning Grants. 

Connecting to Collections' Multi-Faceted Initiatives

When I was interviewing for the position to be the head of IMLS, when I went to the White House I brought ten copies of the Heritage Health Index and I put them down and I said, “This is what I want to accomplish in my four year term. I really want to make a difference when it comes to preservation and conservation.”


I said, “It’s one of the hardest things to get boards to pay for, for people to understand that if you don’t have this, you don’t have a collection.” And so. They started. I reached first and they started opening up the pamphlet. I had a chance to say what I felt was important. "And so, if you want me to do this, this is what I’m going to focus on," I said.


And I also think.The First Lady had been, well Mrs. Clinton had started Save America’s Treasures. Sometimes, when you change administrations, a program disappears. Mrs. Bush added even more money to it. And I said, “I know Mrs. Bush will be interested in this as well.” And I got the job. [I was sworn in on like March 10th at noon at the White House in 2006 and my tenure ended at noon March 16, 2010.]

Anne Radice on the idea for Connecting to Collections to read more of her recollections, see here.

Management of Connecting to Collection Care Forum and Workshops Funding Over Time

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