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Subject: Objects Specialty Group List

Objects Specialty Group List

From: David Harvey <dharvey>
Date: Tuesday, November 24, 1998
Each specialty group within the American Institute for Conservation
(AIC) has its own officers, committees, by-laws, budget, activities,
and publications. Although each group may participate in the larger
activities of the AIC and conservation, such as drafting
commentaries to the guidelines for practice, for example, there are
many activities that are only available to members and is a benefit
solely of those who have chosen to join and pay dues to their chosen
specialty(s).

When the Objects Specialty Group (OSG) internet discussion list was
planned and implemented last year it was decided that participation
in the list, namely the ability to post queries and responses, would
be limited to the members of OSG who chose to join.  It was felt
that if the OSG list was opened to everyone that the discussion
would become generalized and would duplicate what the ConsDist List
was structured to do.  At last year's OSG business meeting we
received a request from the Wooden Artifacts Group (WAG) to join the
OSG List. This was discussed, a motion was made, and the
participation of those in WAG who wanted to join our list was
approved.  Active participation in the OSG list is restricted to the
members of OSG and WAG who wish to join.  This is the current
policy.  There have been a number of occasions where OSG members
have placed postings on the OSG List for our colleagues who are not
members--and we are quite happy to do so.

This past summer, when it became apparent that the archives of past
OSG-L discussions, were open to anyone on the internet who could
find the COOL or AIC web site, a long debate ensued.  Many OSG-L
participants were surprised and quite concerned that their
discussions were essentially open to the entire public.  Some OSG-L
participants felt that public access to the archives of past
discussions was a non-issue.  A vote was taken on OSG-L and a
majority of those responding voted to close access to the archives
by passwords. Recommendations were presented to the OSG Chair by the
internet committee and the archives were recently closed to open
access and kept open to the list members.

We did, however, take note of the fact that there are many
colleagues who might wish to find information from our past
discussions in the OSG-L archives.  Our new policy has taken this
into account.  To put it simply:  Anyone who wishes to access the
OSG-L archives can do so by sending an e-mail message to the OSG
webmaster stating the nature of your query.  It is the query, and
not membership in a professional organization or group that will
determine whether you be given access to the archives.  In many
instances there are other sites for information, such the AIC web
site or CoOL, that might be better suited for a query.

The announcement that was posted on the Cons DistList in regards to
this new policy was intended to encourage those of you who are not
members of the OSG or WAG to obtain access to the OSG-L archives by
the new procedures.  We also want to encourage anyone who wants to
actively participate in the list to do so by joining either the OSG
or WAG specialty groups of the AIC.

I hope that it is clearly understood that we are not keeping
everyone out, as some of the recent postings on the Cons DistList
have suggested.  We have formulated a structure for access to past
discussions in the archives and will moderate access much in the
same way that submissions to the Cons DistList are screened and
moderated.

The issue of what information we make available to the public at
large should be a separate one from the information and exchanges
between conservators in a specialty group.  We will be grappling
with precisely those issues in structuring the content of the OSG
web site.  It is very important to debate and deeply think about how
you communicate to the public.  The technical issues of a discussion
on a professional internet discussion list about using microwaves to
kill mold on paper, for example, might be understood by conservators
one way and could easily be understood by the public in an entirely
different way.  As conservators we  have to be mindful that while we
have an inherent philosophical and ethical approach to art and
artifacts that is quite natural to us, those considerations might be
lacking in the minds of many others in the vast public arena. It is
important to communicate to the public what they can to do to
preserve their collections at home and when to call a conservator.

The larger issue of  how to communicate conservation and
preservation information to the public at large is a vital one.  It
would be a great issue to debate on the Cons DistList and in other
forums.

David Harvey
OSG Webmaster

                                  ***
                  Conservation DistList Instance 12:47
               Distributed: Wednesday, November 25, 1998
                       Message Id: cdl-12-47-004
                                  ***
Received on Tuesday, 24 November, 1998

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