In preparation for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), a number of interested members of the AICCM banded together in October and November 2021 to spread awareness of the role of the conservation profession in mitigating the climate crisis. With participants ranging from students from the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation and University of Canberra to experienced conservators, the group updated the AICCM Sustainable Collections Wiki and participated in the IIC COP26 Edit-a-Thon on Wikipedia.
Sustainable Collections Wiki
Building on the Sustainable Collections Wiki created by Mary-Jo Lelyveld and Ainslee Meredith, which went live in 2020, the group generated new content on greening, resourcing, preservation environments, access and engagement, and horizon scanning. In the process, we drew on case studies and publications generated by AICCM members over the years, engaging with topics such as risk assessment, social sustainability, storage environments, and safer chemicals. In particular, traditional practices came to the fore as a rich source of knowledge that could be adapted to the contemporary Australian conservation context.
Do note that we would love to see more case studies from members on sustainability topics, so that we can share resources and ideas to support one another in adapting to a changed climate! Please get in touch with MaryJo Lelyveld if you have suggestions for Wiki contributions, or get involved by writing up an article for the AICCM Bulletin or e-News.
IIC COP26 edit-a-thon
Having brushed up on sustainability-related literature, we participated in the 24-hour Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon organised by IIC and Marina Herriges. The event linked student conservators and conservators from across the world, as each time zone added content and then passed the baton to the next. We were pleased to benefit from the training provided by Dr Richard Nevell from UK Wikipedia and the training resource guides for us to edit any Wiki page.
New Wikipedia pages created by AICCM members for this event were:
- Agents of deterioration
- Cultural heritage at risk from climate change
- Hazardous substances in cultural heritage collections
- Museum environments
- Risk management for cultural heritage
- Social sustainability
- Sustainable materials use and disposal (conservation of cultural heritage)
- Worldview (global-ethics): Heritage conservation guidelines and case studies
We also contributed referencing, updating and sustainability-focused editing to the pages:
- Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials
- Conservation and restoration of books, manuscripts, documents and ephemera
- Collections maintenance
- Disaster preparedness (cultural property)
Impact and future work
This event was a success, improving the information available to collections care practitioners and the general public on sustainability practices. It was encouraging to see the strength of Australian contributions on both local and global scales as we joined 52 editors. Already the impact of the generated content is notable, with 22,000 page reads in five days after the event (or 13K reads over the past month!).
In addition to the improved online resources, participants gained new skills in Wikipedia editing. It was exciting and rewarding to share our expertise to the public in a free and accessible format. Many expressed interest in continuing editing in future sessions. We hope that this is the first of many sustainability-minded events contributing to a more informed and emboldened profession.
AICCM members who participated in this event are: Alice Cannon, Nicole Tse, MaryJo Lelyveld, Sabine Cotte, Asli Gunel, Imogen Colton, Caity Allen, Teagan Clough, Cancy Chu, Alice O’Connor, Jessica Argall, Cody Alexander, Genevieve Schiesser, Velika Thomev, Alison Wain, and Hakim Abdul Rahim. A particular thank you to Nicole Tse at the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation and Imogen Colton of SC@M for organising, and the IIC COP26 edit-a-thon organisers.