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Grant to Help NKU Preserve Region's Future


Northern Kentucky University has received a $50,000 National Endowment for the Humanities Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections planning grant to evaluate the environmental climate in which the W. Frank Steely Library Eva G. Farris Special Collections and Schlachter University Archives stores its historical collections and permanent university records.

The goal is to create a sustainable, energy efficient, preservation-quality environment for the protection of these collections which have regional and national significance. Only 18 of 80 applicants nationally received funding.

University archivist and assistant professor Lois Hamill is the principal investigator for the grant, which will bring consultants from the nationally renowned Image Permanence Institute of the Rochester Institute of Technology, and engineers from Staggs and Fisher of Lexington to work with NKU. The planning grant will fund the next phase of work to create a state-of-the-art research archives for NKU and the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati community.

A 2006 NEH Preservation Assistance Grant provided an overall baseline assessment on which subsequent work, funded in part by significant private donations, has built. This work resulted in the successful award of the current grant to evaluate the existing environment and HVAC systems for Special Collections, experiment with modifications and collect data to create a sustainable environment for the long-term protection of the division’s unique collections. 

The project is a collaborative effort by Steely archivists, NKU facilities management, Image Permanence Institute preservation specialists and Staggs and Fisher engineers.

Arne J. Almquist, NKU associate provost for library services, said Steely Library’s Special Collections documents the “rich history and heritage of the region and its people.” With the recent addition of the papers of former U.S. Senator Jim Bunning, the archives now holds 40 continuous years of papers for the 4th Congressional District (Gene Snyder, Jim Bunning, Ken Lucas and James Callahan). Other notable collections include Stanley Chesley’s legal papers for the tragic Beverly Hills Supper Club fire, the Northern Kentucky African-American Heritage Task Force Papers, papers of the Appalachian Soupbean Poets, collections on organized crime and its clean-up in Newport, and Civil War correspondence and diaries. The archives owns also owns a Frank Duveneck portrait and an original copy of the first book ever written about Kentucky. 

A decision on an additional NEH Preservation Assistance grant is currently pending.

The W. Frank Steely Library Special Collections & Archives Sustainable Preservation Environment Planning Project is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections grant. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

SOURCE: press release