Merrill-Oldham receives lifetime achievement award

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Jan Merrill-Oldham, Harvard’s Malloy-Rabinowitz Preservation Librarian from 1995 through 2010, has received the Ross Atkinson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS). Widely acknowledged as the driving force in developing Harvard’s renowned preservation programs, Merrill-Oldham received her award from Nancy M. Cline, Roy E. Larsen Librarian of Harvard College, on behalf of ALCTS.

According to Cline, “It is Jan’s knowledgeable tenacity, her ability to develop programs and staff, and her broad international network of colleagues that have made such a difference for Harvard’s preservation program.”

It is to Merrill-Oldham’s credit that Harvard’s libraries benefit from a carefully coordinated relationship between collections conservation and special collections conservation; state-of-the-art conservation labs in Widener and the Weissman Preservation Center; a multifaceted special collections program for the conservation of books, paper, photographs, and film; a preservation review program; a comprehensive imaging services program; and a proven Library Collections Emergency Team. Her comprehensive approach to preservation yielded more than $11 million in support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

“Harvard’s library preservation programs stem from Jan’s wise decisions and her direction about people and programs, and her overall philosophy of preservation,” stated Harvard Library Executive Director Helen Shenton. “It is one of the paradoxes of preservation that at first glance it is about the past, but in fact, it is all about the future.”

The award honors the memory of Ross Atkinson, a distinguished library leader, author, and scholar whose extraordinary service to the ALCTS and the library community at large serves as a model for those in the field.