MBLC Awarded Prestigious NEH Preservation Grant


December 15, 2016
Celeste Bruno
Communications Specialist
1-800-952-7403 x208

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) is pleased to announce that it is the recipient of a two-year $196,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to initiate a statewide project that will bring local first responders together with members of the cultural heritage community in an effort to protect humanities collections and municipal records following a disaster.

“Protecting these collections and records is crucial to preserving our nation’s history, sustaining the economy, and fostering resilience so that communities can respond to and recover from disasters,” said MBLC Director Dianne Carty.

The project, Finding Common Ground: Collaborative Training for the Cultural Heritage and Emergency Response Communities,  will build on the quarter century of the MBLC’s statewide preservation activities and the work of its partners--the statewide cultural heritage emergency network, COSTEP MA, the Massachusetts Archives, the New England Museum Association, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services-- to ensure that the cultural heritage community is included in a municipality’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP) and that emergency responders play a formal role in the protection of local humanities collections.

 “First responders and cultural heritage experts bring significant knowledge regarding either their collections or response activities to the table. Unfortunately, not all that information is readily available to the other population, with the result that during and following a disaster, cultural heritage is often overlooked and collections are damaged or lost,” said MBLC Preservation Specialist Gregor Trinkaus-Randall, who is also the project director. Only 13% of Massachusetts cultural institutions have an up-to-date disaster plan and staff trained to implement it, according to a 2011 MBLC statewide preservation survey.

 A series of five workshops, jointly taught by preservation specialists and firefighting professionals will address preservation, risk assessment, disaster planning, disaster recovery, and salvage of cultural heritage materials from both perspectives. The workshop series will culminate in a live burn and salvage exercise at two Department of Fire Services’ facilities, allowing both sectors to experience firsthand the challenges of fighting a fire and recovering collection materials damaged by both fire and water.

The project has national implications. Once the in-person training is complete and the curriculum evaluated and refined, it will be turned into a free online course that can be adapted by other states and territories.

About the NEH

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at

About MBLC

The Board of Library Commissioners ( is the agency of state government with the statutory authority and responsibility to organize, develop, coordinate and improve library services throughout the Commonwealth. The Board advises municipalities and library trustees on the operation and maintenance of public libraries, including construction and renovation. It administers state and federal grant programs for libraries and promotes cooperation among all types of libraries through regional library systems and automated resource sharing. It also works to ensure that all residents of the Commonwealth, regardless of their geographic location, social or economic status, age, level of physical or intellectual ability or cultural background, have access to essential new electronic information technologies and significant electronic databases.