Alumna Specializes in Preservation

College of Arts and Sciences selects Jeanne Drewes to receive Alumni Award
Jeanne Drewes
Jeanne Drewes (B.A. '76)
Chief of Binding and Collections Care Division
and Deacidification Program,
Library of Congress

Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. In 2019, UMKC College of Arts and Sciences is honoring Jeanne Drewes (B.A. ’76) with their Alumni Achievement Award.

Drewes’ career spans four decades and includes roles at universities, libraries and museums. She currently serves as chief of the Binding and Collections Care Division and Deacidification Program at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. She spoke with us about her career path and travels to Cuba.

When you received your undergraduate degree from UMKC, did you already plan to pursue a career in libraries?

No, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I had worked at Linda Hall Library and got a job at the UMKC Library, so I understood how libraries worked. Having that experience led me to think about the master’s degree so that I could make a difference where I worked.

You instituted a program for college students to assist with book preservation at the National Library of Cuba. Tell us about the program and what students accomplished during their time there.

During winter break, students from Johns Hopkins would go to Cuba and learn about Cuban culture and hear lectures at the University of Havana and at the Special Interest Section, which was run by the U.S. State Department before there was an embassy there.

The first project was rehousing slave registries held at the provincial archives in Matanzas, Cuba. The students wanted to help the country and felt good about helping to preserve history that was both Cuban and American. The second student project was putting old maps into new folders in the National Archives in Havana. I remember one student telling me how honored she was to be able to work on these old maps, saying, “In the United States, I wouldn’t be allowed to touch maps this old, and in Cuba I am helping to preserve them.”

How did UMKC contribute to your success?

Both the coursework, which I completely enjoyed because it made me think more deeply about what I was reading, and the work experience really helped me on my career path. Being part of the inventory of the library was a great experience and one I have continued to build on, most recently doing a survey of some three million volumes at the Library of Congress.

About the Alumni Awards

Drewes will be honored at the 2019 UMKC Alumni Awards on March 15. Proceeds from the event will support student scholarships. In the last decade, the Alumni Awards events have raised more than $1 million in scholarships and immediate aid for students.

Published: Feb 14, 2019

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