Paul N. Banks

Paul Banks (1934-2000) was Conservator and Head of the Conservation Department and Laboratory at the Newberry Library from 1964 to 1981. He left the Newberry Library in 1981 to establish the first United States degree granting program in library preservation at the Columbia University School of Library Science. Banks published prolifically throughout his career on library preservation, conservation issues, and education.


Born in California in 1934 as an only child, Banks was drawn to fine printing techniques, a skill not offered in colleges and universities. Banks studied at Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh before working in book production and typography in New York City for Viking Press and Clark & Way from 1956-1960 [Frost, Gary. (2003). "Founding Futurist of the Book: Paul Banks, 2000." Future of the Book. [] . Accessed on June 1, 2007.] . During this time he also took evening courses at Columbia in book related topics. The next four years were spent in part time jobs, giving book binding lessons, and writing reports for the "Journal of the Guild of Book Workers".

The Conservation Department at the Newberry Library in Chicago was established when Banks was appointed as Conservator in 1964 [Conservation Department, The Newberry Library. [] . Accessed on June 1, 2007.] . At the Newberry Library, Banks improved repair practices and began training apprentices and other staff in conservation. Many future conservators received training there and Banks discovered a love for teaching. In 1971, the Newberry Library Conservation Laboratory was established with Paul Banks as the Director. He continued in this capacity until he left in 1981.

During his time at the Newberry Library, Banks began publishing on conservation topics and developed leaflets to help would-be conservators find resources and training. In addition to publications, Banks also gave lectures, including a paper at the 1969 meeting of the American Institute for Conservation (AIC), marking the first time a paper was given at the AIC on book conservation. He served as President of the AIC from 1978-80, the first president to be a professional book conservator. Towards the later 1970s, Banks became increasingly interested in education and published numerous articles on education and training for professional library conservators and preservationists.

Banks left the Newberry Library in 1981 to help establish a conservation and preservation program at the Columbia University School of Library Science. There he designed curriculum and taught courses until the school was closed in 1992. The preservation program was moved to the University of Texas at Austin, where Banks continued to teach until his retirement. According to Ellen McCrady, a former student, Banks’ lectures were the “heart of the program.” [McCrady, Ellen. (2000). "In Memoriam: Paul N. Banks 1934-2000." Abbey Newsletter 24(1). [] ]

Paul Banks pioneered professional library conservation through his practices and training at the Newberry Library. His hundreds of students at Columbia University and later at University of Texas at Austin are continuing his legacy. Gary Frost, a co-worker of Banks at the Newberry Library and 2006 winner of the Paul Banks and Carolyn Harris Preservation Award, writes “Paul's greatest legacy to the future has been and will be his library school based training program for preservation administrators and library conservators.” [Frost, Gary. (2002). "Pioneers of Book Conservation." Future of the Book. [$728] Accessed on June 1, 2007.] His career helped to establish preservation as a fundamental aspect of library science and continues to inspire those he touched.

Paul Banks and Carolyn Harris Preservation Award

The Banks/Harris award was established to honor Paul Banks and Carolyn Harris, early leaders in library preservation. This annual grant of $1500 is offered by the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS), a division of the American Library Association. It recognizes contributions of a professional preservationist in the field of preservation or conservation for library or archival materials. [Association of Library Collections and Technical Services. "Paul Banks and Carolyn Harris Preservation Award." [] . Accessed on June 1, 2007.]

Selected bibliography

*Banks, P. N. (1974). "Environmental standards for storage of books and manuscripts." "Library Journal", 99(3), 339-343.

*Banks, P. N. (1976). "Books in peril: Cooperative approaches to conservation." "Library Journal". 101(20), 2348-51.

*Banks, P. N. (1979). "Education for conservators." "Library Journal", 104(9), 1013-1017.

*Banks, P. N. (1981). "Education in library conservation." "Library Trends", 30(2), 189-201.

*Banks, P. N. (1981). "A selective bibliography on the conservation of research library materials". Chicago: Newberry Library.

*Banks, P. N. (1987). "Preservation of Library Materials". Chicago: Newberry Library.

*Banks, P. N. (1990). "Preservation, library collections, and the concept of cultural property." "Libraries and scholarly communication in the United States". Edited by Phyllis Dain and John Y. Cole. New York: Greenwood Press.

*Banks, P. N. (1995). "ISR/ASTM workshop on paper aging." "Conservation Administration News", (60), 22.

*Banks, P. N. (2000). "Environment and building design for preservation of library materials." "Preservation". Chicago: American Library Association.

*Banks, P. N. & Piletta, R. (2000). "Preservation: Issues and Planning". Chicago: American Library Association.


External links

* [ The Newberry Library]
* [ University of Texas School of Information]
* [ The American Institute for Conservation]
* [ Conservation OnLine, a project of the Stanford University Preservation Department]

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