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Defending Civilization

 Conference to take place on Oct. 27.

ALBANY, N.Y. (Oct. 20, 2017) – The University at Albany Libraries is hosting the first “Cultural Heritage at Risk: In Defense of Civilization” conference this Friday. The day-long event will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m in the Campus Center Ballroom on UAlbany’s Uptown Campus.

Guest speakers from the campus community and beyond will present on innovative disaster prevention, protection and response methodologies used by cultural institutions around the world, as well as examine what data is still necessary to improve these strategies, according to Karen Kiorpes, event organizer and head of the University Libraries’ Alice Hastings Murphy Preservation Department.

“Protecting collections is a big part of our responsibility as caretakers for libraries, archives, museums and other cultural collections,” Kiorpes said. “This conference is a way to educate and help people become more aware of what’s going on and where research is needed.”

Natural disasters, terrorism and other emergencies threaten the existence of invaluable cultural sites, which makes the importance of having an action plan all the greater.

“The loss of historic sites, buildings, libraries and museum collections means a loss of part of our collective cultural identity, undermining our understanding of who we are and where we came from,” Kiorpes said.

The University Libraries is partnering with the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity (CEHC) and the New York State Department of Education for the event. Students, faculty and the general public are invited to attend.

Keynote Speaker

The keynote speaker, Brian I. Daniels, director of research and programs for the Penn Cultural Heritage Center at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, will deliver the opening address, “Using Data to Understand Cultural Destruction,” beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Daniels is “one of the few people who has actually done a lot of research into protecting cultural collections, as opposed to simply talking about the response” to disasters, Kiorpes said.

The roster of speakers also includes UAlbany faculty members Christopher Thorncroft, chair and professor in the College of Arts and Sciences and professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences; and Victor Asal, chair of the Department of Public Administration and Policy and associate professor in the Department of Political Science.

The conference, which is made possible by funding through contributions from the UAlbany Conference Support Award, the New York State Conservation and Preservation Grant program, CEHC and the University Libraries, is another step toward possibly developing an elective course in cultural collection preservation, according to Kiorpes, who also serves as co-chair for the Undergraduate Academic Counsel at UAlbany. The class could be offered as soon as Spring 2019, she said.

More information

• Tickets are $40 (with lunch included). Purchase tickets: http://scholarsarchive.library.albany.edu/char
• For those who are unable to attend, the conference will be recorded on video and made available following the event here.
• View event schedule: https://scholarsarchive.library.albany.edu/char/schedule/

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About the University at Albany
A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.