Northeast Document Conservation Center

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Founded in 1973, the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) is the first non-profit conservation center in the United States to specialize in the preservation of paper-based library and archival materials.

NEDCC was founded in response to growing alarm about the monumental scope of the paper deterioration problem facing collection-holding institutions. Its purpose is to provide the highest quality conservation services to institutions that do not have in-house conservation facilities or that require specialized expertise and to private collectors. The Center was initiated by the state librarians of the six New England states, who recognized that a multi-state facility was needed. They agreed to cooperate across state lines to create a facility that would serve all non-profit institutions in the region. Given the acute shortage of paper and book conservators and the high cost of equipping a laboratory, a cooperative approach has proven the most effective solution to the problem of making conservation services broadly available.

The Center was established with start-up funds from the Council on Library Resources, the New England Library Board, and other donors. For seven years the Center functioned as an arm of the New England Library Board. In 1980, it incorporated as a private, non-profit organization. Since then, the Center’s regional area has been extended to include clients across the country. Today NEDCC is governed by a board of directors that includes state librarians, business leaders and distinguished colleagues.

NEDCC performs book conservation, paper conservation, photograph conservation, Asian paintings conservation, collections surveys, digitization, and audio preservation with the IRENE technology, on a fee-for-service basis to clients nationwide. Through its Preservation Services office, NEDCC also provides preservation needs assessments, training programs including workshops and webinars, consultations, free preservation resources, and disaster assistance. NEDCC presents a yearly national conference, Digital Directions, on creating sustainable digital collections.

NEDCC has served thousands of non-profit institutions through its laboratory services, consultations and educational programs. Clients range from large institutions such as the National Archives, Boston Public Library, The Baseball Hall of Fame, and Harvard University, to small public libraries, town clerks’ offices, and local historical societies.. In addition to helping institutions whose major purpose is to serve as repositories, NEDCC assists a wide variety of other organizations. These include performing arts institutions, religious organizations, hospitals, social service agencies, labor unions, zoos, and botanical gardens as well as private and family collectors.

Examples of projects undertaken at the Center include the conservation treatment of historic artifacts such as Lewis and Clark’s elk skin journal, the Emancipation Proclamation, and Babe Ruth’s personal scrapbook.

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