If the new year promises to look a bit like the old (and it does so far), it will feature things like snow, flooding, landslides, and the unexpected deaths of friends and colleagues. Despair, or prepare? A little bit of the latter may aid with the former.
So, in the spirit of the new year, I call readers' attention to a great recent guest post over at ephemera on estate planning for your private collections (whether of ephemera or other materials, much of the same advice applies).
A corollary to estate planning is appraisal, and a good place to go to locate a certified appraiser near you is the web site of the American Society of Appraisers (for mixed collections) or the web site of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (for books). Establishing a value for your collection--large or small--will be useful whether you're donating your materials to a non-profit repository or making a claim to your insurance company for loss.
There are many things you can do to help protect your collections from damage due to natural disasters. The American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works has a nice list of care and handling tips for all sorts of materials, and the National Archives and Records Administration has an online guide to protecting family records.
It can seem daunting, the prospect of developing some elaborate plan for your "hobby" or "that stuff of grandpa's". But if you spend the time, you'll thank yourself if that landslide comes, and your children will thank you when they are spared the decision on what to do with it all after you're gone.
(And I know I've given some of this same advice before, but good advice always bears repeating!)