Money to preserve film archives and special collections

Jen Richards

Equinox Staff


Help for protecting Keene State College’s valuable collections has arrived. The college recently received a grant to preserve and protect the school’s film archives and special collections.

The National Endowment for Humanities, NEH, awarded a $5,560 grant to KSC to contribute toward emergency preparedness, a response plan, and staff training to preserve the special collections and film archives.

Rodney Obien, archivist at KSC, will work on this protection project. He said it consists of developing a protection plan and training staff members from the Mason Library and Film Studies department on what to do to protect these materials in case of an emergency.

Obien said they are using outside help as well. Staff at Mason Library enlisted Carolyn Frisa, a professional conservator from Vermont, to help complete the project.

“She will do a survey of the current conditions and locations of the collections and create an assessment which will ultimately be used to develop the emergency preparedness plan,” Obien said.

Frisa will use a special online program called DPLAN to compile and develop the preparedness plan and will conduct the training of the faculty and staff.

The DPLAN is an online disaster-planning tool for institutions that will help Frisa create the protection plan.

Frisa said she will also help prepare disaster supply kits to have available in the library in case of an emergency.

The NEH grant will cover the entire cost of this and is intended to create an emergency preparedness plan to protect the college archives.

“This includes historical records of the college dating to 1909, special collections including the rare book library, papers of Doris ‘Granny D’ Haddock, and the Orang Asli Archive, a research collection relating to the indigenous peoples of Malaysia, and the KSC Film Archives that includes the film collection of New Hampshire academy-award winning filmmaker Louis de Rochemont,” Obien said.

The college holds over 250 linear feet of archival and manuscript material. It also contains 6,000 volumes of print and bound materials in a variety of subjects.

These subjects include history, literature, poetry, film studies, holocaust and genocide studies, and anthropology. The grant was also intended to help protect the nearly 1,000 color and black and white motion pictures held by the school.

Obien said it’s of great importance to protect these valuable collections at KSC.

“The College Archives, Special Collections, and KSC Film Archives consist of important historical and cultural documents and materials, many of which are rare and irreplaceable,” he said.

Frisa also said it is necessary to have an emergency plan for these materials on top of the school’s emergency plan for students and faculty.

“Although Keene State College has an emergency preparedness and response plan for the entire institution, this does not take into consideration the special needs of handling the unique materials found in the archive and special collections. With an emergency plan, training, and disaster supply kits in place, library staff will be able to respond in the most effective way to save the irreplaceable collections it holds,” Frisa said.

Obien said projects using this grant will take place over a six-month period.

“The project involves creating a plan and will take about six months to complete. Implementation will come after the plan has been completed,” Obien said.

Frisa said even once the plan is complete it will continue to be an ongoing project.

“An emergency preparedness and response plan is, by nature, an ever-evolving document. The grant project will take place over the course of seven months, and once the plan is in place, it will be necessary for staff to review and update it on an annual basis. The same applies to the disaster supply kits,” Frisa said.

The school plans to start projects in January and have the plan completed by the end of July 2012.


Jen Richards can be contacted at



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