The Brian J. and Darlene Heidtke Preservation Endowment

Book conservationist restoring a book in a washing trayThe Brian J. and Darlene Heidtke Endowment was instituted in 2002 to support our Book Conservation Laboratory and Preservation Services Department. A small but mighty staff of three talented and highly trained individuals repair, restore, and rejuvenate some of the Nation’s most precious treasures and the prized collections of the Smithsonian Libraries.

“The funding supports a comprehensive book preservation program by allowing preservation staff to purchase both essential and state-of-the-art conservation equipment and supplies - something that would not be possible with the current limited federal budget,” says Book Conservator Vanessa Haight Smith. The Heidtke Endowment has helped the Book Conservation Lab purchase a suction table, which is used for pulp-filling holes in pages of books and properly flattening paper while drying.  In addition, a new drying rack is used for initial air-drying of pages of books after washing.  These processes help to preserve important text and illustrations for future use.  “The Heidtke Endowment for the Smithsonian Libraries Preservation Department has been essential for the continuation of conservation and protection of our collections for long-term access for research,” Vanessa says. The Heidtke Endowment also supports professional staff development, and graduate-student interns, ensuring that the Libraries attract promising and talented future library professionals.

Brian said he established this endowment because he’s “always enjoyed fixing up things that needed restoration, especially fine old books. Establishing the endowment provided an opportunity to vicariously satisfy an urge I couldn't address myself through the work of conservation professionals at the Libraries.” He served on the Smithsonian Libraries Advisory Board from 2001-2006 and He is retired Vice President for Finance and Corporate Treasurer of Colgate-Palmolive Company in New York City. He is an avid book collector in the areas of Greek and Roman architecture, fine bindings, and western American comic books, as well as a philatelist. His wife, Darlene, is a trained librarian.

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