SALT LAKE CITY — Censored pictures of dying books too graphic to

show and a powerpoint slide featuring thunder and lighting were among

the scare tactics used by Scott Simkins to help drive home the point of

his lecture Thursday, April 8, at the Family History Library:

"Take the time to preserve your precious histories and treasures before

it's too late."

Simkins, the head

conservator at the Family History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of

Latter-day Saints, addressed the "ings" of preserving personal histories,

as part of a lecture series sponsored by the

Church History Library called "Preserving Your Personal History."

Beware of impending

doom and destruction, Simkins joked with the 20 or so in attendance. He

titled his presentation "Fires, Floods, and Earthquakes: Ensuring that your personal journal will last through millennial destruction and beyond."

"Hopefully these

scare tactics will motivate you to action, to keep journals and precious

documents," said Simkins, one of the Mormon church's top authorities on

collection dynamics. "Hopefully the things you learn

here will inspire you to keep your personal histories so your loved

ones can enjoy them too."

__IMAGE1__Citing scriptures Jacob 1:2-3 and Doctrine and Covenants 136:27 , Simkins'

remarks centered around the "ings" of preserving: Handling, documenting,

organizing, preparing, mending, sharing and storing,

then discussed the purpose of each point.

Part of handling

histories requires understanding the anatomy of a book, Simkins said

before demonstrating how to carefully remove a book from the bookshelf

without causing damage.

Many are guilty of

pulling a book out by the top of the sleeve with their index finger.

Instead, try pushing the books on each side inward so the book is easier

to pull out, or if possible, reaching around and

tapping the book out from the opposite side. Simkins also suggested washing

your hands before fingering the pages of a book.

"Do not lick your

fingers," he said. "Clean your hands before hand to retain that tactile


When documenting and organizing your history, consider how to arrange

items so they aren't lost or misidentified.

"Your journal won't

make it into the hands of your descendants unless you help it into

their hands," Simkins said.

Proper preparation

includes removing anything that will cause damage, such as extraneous

materials, dust and debris. If you run into mold, don't remove it,

Simkins said, place the book in a clear plastic bag.

Mending was one

point Simkins considered leaving out of his presentation because it

should be left to professionals. He showed examples of how Scotch

tape on a torn page cannot be repaired. He also recommended

finding a conservator at your local state university for help.

"If you do it,

don't do anything irreversible so someone can fix what you did later,"

he said.

If you have an

original document, Simkins recommended making copies — digital or

otherwise — and sharing the copies before letting everyone handle the

original. He noted that the LDS Church History Library

accepts journal donations.

"Share the original

cautiously. Maybe it's a good opportunity to explain the anatomy of a

book to the grandkids," he said. "Then tuck the original away where it

is safe and share copies."

Improper storage is

often where family treasures are lost. The ancient Egyptians knew how

to do it, Simkins said.

"What was the

secret? It was a box within a box within a box," he said. "If your

journal is in the middle of a couple of boxes, it will have a

microenvironment of its own, with less dust, gases and fumes."

Simkins suggested

keeping precious items out of the light, away from pipes, air-conditioning units,

radiators, exterior walls and extreme heat.

Encapsulation is

the key, he said, but avoid cardboard boxes or laminating documents

because those are not effective long-term methods.

"In the church

history center we are Anti-Nephi Laminites," Simkins said, sparking


The knowledgeable

conservator concluded his remarks with a call to action. As more and

more Mormons take interest in preserving family history, they are

thinking, "Wow, I wish this wasn't beaten up so

much. What could we have done to keep it around longer?" Simkins said.

"More and more I am

being asked to speak to groups who are thinking about what they need to

do to keep stuff around. We usually don't jump on it until its too

late, then conservation comes into play," Simkins

said. "I hope we can catch these things up front first."