Yesterday, I learned of the passing of John Francis Dean. Looking back, John probably had the greatest impact on me in the conservation and preservation field. I shared some of my experiences with him in a post here several years ago.
After emigrating from Great Britain to the United States in 1969, John F. Dean managed the preservation program at the Newberry Library before establishing the apprentice training and conservation program at the Johns Hopkins University in 1975. He went to Cornell University in 1985 to establish and develop the Department of Preservation and Conservation. He is widely recognized as one of the major proponents of preservation programs at academic libraries and was the 2003 recipient of the American Library Association’s prestigious Paul Banks and Carolyn Harris Preservation Award. A thread throughout his career arc is David Stam who as as Director of the Newberry Library brought him to the U.S., then as Director of the Library at Johns Hopkins brought him there. They remained life-long friends until David's passing last February. David was University Librarian at Syracuse when I arrived there ...
|John Dean (2nd from left) with Yoko Sampson demonstrating
during one of the frequent tours he gave of the program at
Johns Hopkins. The image is undated, but could have been during my time.
Image from the Johns Hopkins University graphic and pictorial collection.
I was put to work learning how to repair the heavily used books from the circulating collections, make basic enclosures for brittle items, clean stacks, … Because of the nature of the program John created at Johns Hopkins, I was exposed to all levels of work, something that deeply intrigued me so that when I wasn’t training for bike racing or studying, I volunteered with the paper conservator and just watched. John encouraged this interest by inviting me to observe presenters brought in like Tini Miura, exposing me to other aspects of the field. Knowing that I was a semester ahead, he encouraged me to take an internship in Germany to see what impact that experience might have - That experience led me to apprentice there after graduation and then experience my own sort of journeyman years.
|John F. Dean striking a pose while at Cornell.
|Me, John Dean, and Marty Hanson at the inaugural
Brodsky Lecture in 2005.
Photo: Steve Sartori, SU Photo and Imaging Center.
In 2005 I was fortunate to be able to help create and then lead the Brodsky Series for Advancement of Library Conservation at Syracuse University Library. It was only natural that John was invited to be the first speaker on the topic of Conservation and Preservation in the Digital Age. From my introduction at the inaugural lecture:
John Dean our speaker for this afternoon’s inaugural event will speak on “Conservation and Preservation in the Digital Age,” a topic he is uniquely qualified to speak on as a result of his leadership in such activities at Cornell. John Dean is Cornell University's Preservation and Conservation Librarian. He received his City and Guilds of London Institute medal in bookbinding in 1956, a Master of Arts degree in Library Science from the University of Chicago in 1975, and a Master of Liberal Arts degree in the History of Science from the Johns Hopkins University in 1981. Following his six years apprenticeship, Dean established and lead four major preservation programs beginning in 1960, at the Manchester Central Research Library (England), the Newberry Library (Chicago), the Johns Hopkins University Library (Baltimore), and, since 1985, Cornell University Library. He is author of several works on conservation and preservation management, has taught conservation and preservation management at the University of Maryland, Syracuse University, the University of Alabama, and the State University of New York at Albany, and is a member of several national and international preservation committees.
It was John Dean who introduced me to the field when I was a work-study student in the conservation lab at Johns Hopkins, urged me to go to Germany to apprentice as a bookbinder, and has been a true mentor and friend. I can think of no one more appropriate to inaugurate this series.
|With John at the memorial gathering for David Stam at the end of April, 2023.
Despite best intentions, it was the last time I was able to see John.