Stillwater Public Library Showcases 'Caring for Family Treasures' Exhibit

family treasures  webpage(STILLWATER, OKLA. / Dec. 16, 2013) – Most people have a family heirloom hidden away somewhere in their home.  Unfortunately, many of these items get packed away and suffer from light damage, humidity, infestation and other deteriorating conditions.  In January, the Stillwater Public Library will help people learn how to preserve these valuable pieces so they can be passed down to subsequent generations.  The program, “Caring for Family Treasures,” is a two week exhibit and presentation series running Jan. 2-14.

The series is highlighted by the “Caring for Family Treasures” exhibit which consists of 12 panels containing tips on how to preserve heirlooms such as textiles, family videos, jewelry, clocks and watches, photographs, paintings and paper items such as books, letters, certificates and maps.  The exhibit, designed by collections care professionals, offers helpful hints on the proper display, storage and handling of items, as well as expert advice on things not to do.  It will be available for viewing during library business hours.

"This special exhibit is helpful for the public to better understand how to care for their irreplaceable heirlooms," said Stacy DeLano, adult services librarian.  "Whether it’s your great-grandmother’s wedding dress, your grandfather’s war medal or an uncle’s pocket watch, you will learn steps you need to take to preserve your keepsakes.”

According to Susan Feller, co-director of the Oklahoma Cultural Heritage Trust, the heritage of the country’s citizens is as risk as irreplaceable items that define its citizens are being lost or damaged because they are not receiving proper care. 

“Individuals, as well as the archives, libraries and museums that we entrust with our collective heritage, need help,” said Fellers.   “In addition to providing individuals with practical ways to care for items of importance, it is our hope this exhibit will raise awareness of the collections care needs of Oklahoma archives, libraries and museums."

Along with the exhibit, the library will present two programs that go more in depth on family treasures.

On Saturday, Jan. 4, at 1-3 p.m., DeLano and library volunteer Theo Yoast will present a class designed to help beginners learn how to start researching their family genealogy.  The first part of the session will introduce participants to the resources available in the library, throughout town and on the web.  The second part will introduce the library’s online genealogy databases, Heritage Quest and Ancestry.com.

“We want to provide this class while the exhibit is here because genealogies truly are people’s greatest family heirloom,” said DeLano.  “It is a treasured gift that can be passed on from generation to generation.”

The class is geared to beginners and to people who want to learn more about the library’s resources and databases.  At 3 p.m., following the instruction, participants are invited to seek advice from some of the more experienced genealogists in attendance.  This session is intended for those who have hit a roadblock in their searching.

On Saturday, Jan. 11 at 1 p.m., Aimee Bryant, director of the Sheerar Museum of Stillwater History, and Registrar Ashlie J. Hight will present “Family Heirloom Preservation.”  The presentation will go into more depth on caring for the types of items displayed in the exhibit.

“Most of the collections care done in museums can be practically applied to your precious family heirlooms,” said Bryant.  “Most museums do not employ a full time conservator due to the prohibitive costs of conservation, therefore they rely upon preventative measures.  The goal in collections care is to protect objects from damage and to do nothing to an object that could not be easily reversed.” 

Bryant and Hight will discuss tips for damage prevention and provide instructions about handling, cleaning, display and storage.  They will share practical dos and don’ts, as well as where to find resources to help preserve heirlooms.

In addition to the adult activities, children can enjoy a Family Tree themed storytime on Friday, Jan. 3 at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. and Monday, Jan. 6 at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.

“At this special storytime we’ll be reading stories and singing songs about the generations of our families,” said Elizabeth Murray, children’s librarian.  “The kids will also construct a family tree.  Although grandparents are always welcome to attend storytime, this will be an especially enjoyable session for grandparents to attend.”

The exhibit and programs are free and open to the public.  To register for the genealogy and preservation classes, please email askalibrarian@stillwater.org or call 405.372.3633 x8106.  For more information, visit the library at http://library.stillwater.org.

“Caring for Family Treasures” is a project of the Oklahoma Cultural Heritage Trust, an alliance between the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, Oklahoma Historical Records Advisory Board, Oklahoma Historical Society and Oklahoma Museums Association.  The Trust is dedicated to working together with Oklahoma's collections-based archives, libraries and museums to improve support for collections care through training and public awareness. Activities are funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency.

Partners for the library programs include the Payne County Genealogical Society, the Sheerar Museum of Stillwater History and the Payne County Historical Society.

The Stillwater Public Library is located at 1107 S. Duck St. (the corner of Duck and 12th Ave.). Library hours are Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.