Friday, August 26, 2016

Book Review: The Care and Keeping of Cultural Facilities

Are you faced with the job of developing a team to create a facilities management plan, or an operations and maintenance manual? Are you getting ready to hire a facilities manager and want help thinking of all the responsibilities to share? Or do you wish you just knew more to help improve the way you work with the staff and consultants helping run your building?

Then you will find wise advice and detailed support in The Care and Keeping of Cultural Facilities by Angela Person-Harm and Judie Cooper, both of the Office of Facilities Management and Reliability at the Smithsonian Institution.

The book may be written by Smithsonian staff, but it takes care to offer options for much smaller institutions, and to provide a wealth of resources adaptable to all sizes and types of cultural facilities.

It has a thorough index, and great resource section, and a solid bibliography. Throughout there are examples of real-life experiences and wisdom provided by practitioners from museums, zoos, and libraries in the US and Canada.

I particularly appreciate the admonition "No matter what one's role in the museum environment, it is important to have an understanding of facility-related issues. Staff should understand how the facility supports the museum's mission, and how it affects the museum's bottom line, as well as how they, as users, affect the facility's performance."

So, do you now how much energy costs your institution? Have you toured the HVAC equipment spaces - ever? Do you know where the recycling gets stored and if it is picked up appropriately? When was your last emergency preparedness drill? How effective is your event management approach at avoiding and earning compensation for damages during rentals? There's even information on environmental sustainability in operating your building.

This is a must-have for your institutional library. Use it to train staff, as support for preparing management plans, and help to orient experienced professionals new to the world of managing cultural facilities.

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