News from the BPG Chair

by Jodie Utter | Aug 15, 2018

Hello BPG members,

I've been thinking about a question that came up at the Houston annual meeting: "Why don't more private practice conservators give talks at the annual meeting?" The question was specifically addressed to our group, and it could easily be applied across all disciplines. When I was in private practice I felt crunched for time and rarely felt like I had anything worth presenting, but when I had something unusual, I would present at smaller regional meetings. Looking back, I felt somewhat intimidated by the AIC arena and didn't even consider submitting to AIC. I was afraid of being criticized for treatment decisions, interpretation of the object, etc. I didn't submit to AIC until I was in an institution and shared a technical study. Recently I reached out to Linda Roundhill, chair of CIPP to seek her input. She listed several reasons why conservators in private practice may not be presenting, which I have paraphrased here: financial concerns, lack of technical support (no access to analytical equipment), lack of time, or the object might not be perceived as "important" enough for broad appeal.

I want members to know that some financial support is available to BPG members in the form of two grants: the Carolyn Horton and the Christa Gaehde grants. One is specifically for BPG members, and the other is for work done that benefits the book and paper field, respectively. These grants offer up to $1,000 (deadline February 1 each year) and can be used to fund travel, attend meetings, to conduct research, etc. Since 2016 eight people have received the Carolyn Horton grant (myself included in 2017), and seven have received the Christa Gaehde grant. In the coming months I hope to share more about these resources and past projects funded. I would like your feedback on this topic: What challenges do you see? Possible solutions? You can contact me with your thoughts at bpg dot jodie dot utter at gmail dot com.

Group Updates

  • BPG Business Meeting minutes from 2018 AIC Annual Meeting in Houston are now available for member review. Please see the minutes here; corrections were due to ssnorris at gmail dot com by August 15, but please let me know if you see anything more. In early fall, members will receive an email with access to the revised Minutes and a link to the online vote for approval.
  • 2019 AIC Annual Meeting programing: Program Chair Jennifer Hunt Johnson, and Assistant Program Chair Eliza Spaulding have begun working on programming for next year's meeting. They are excited to explore ways for the BPG membership to make the most of our annual gathering to exchange information and to serve as a platform for the discussion of field-wide issues. You can share your ideas for programing with us at jenhunt101 at gmail dot com and elizabethspaulding at gmail dot com.
  • Publications: Our current email listserv will be transitioning to a Higher Logic community at the end of August. If you have not used the new AIC online communities yet, please log in and begin to familiarize yourself with their features and function ( More information and instructions to follow.
  • Wiki: Thank you to the 40 individuals who contributed to the BPG Wiki in the last year, and everyone who attended the BPG Wiki Session in Houston. The Wiki has new content on several topics with more underway (see the BPG news section for more detail). This year, the Publications Committee will be recruiting a new Paper Wiki Coordinator. Reach out to Denise and Katherine at BookandPaperGroup dot Wiki at gmail dot com if you want to volunteer on any of these projects or suggest ideas.

The Wiki continues its steady growth, which has been enabled by the reformatting (by some of the volunteers) of the existing chapters into a more malleable structure. There are two new pages: Watermarks in Paper and Accessing Conservation Literature. The Endbands chapter has been significantly updated. More images were added throughout. New compiler groups have formed to update the Humidification and Parchment pages. We have had some volunteers come forward to discuss an update to the Drying and Flattening chapter, and we welcome more. Some historical techniques have been relegated to a section at the bottom of their pages. More help is needed to identify all historical techniques, such as those in the Bleaching chapter, with a few sentences or a reference regarding the reason they are no longer common practice. This year, the Publications Committee will be recruiting a new Paper Wiki Coordinator. Reach out to Denise and Katherine at BookandPaperGroup dot Wiki at gmail dot com if you want to volunteer on any of these projects or suggest ideas.

Jodie Utter, BPG Chair (2018-2020), bpg dot jodie dot utter at gmail dot com