CPA Newsletter #1, Jun 1988
The Commission on Preservation and Access
Newsletter June 1988 Number 1
(Note to Readers: This is the first issue of an occasional newsletter intended to inform members of the university community about activities of the Commission and information related to the national brittle books program. It is being sent to library directors and provosts of Association of Research Libraries member institutions.)
Significant Increase in
N.E.H. Funding for Office of Preservation? The House Appropriations Subcommittee that deals with annual funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities is considering significant increases in the budget for a national preservation microfilming program. In hearings on March 17 and April 21, the Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies heard testimony from a score of library, foundation and NEH leaders on the need for Federal participation in a national program. NEH Chair Lynne Cheney, at the request of Subcommittee Chairman Sidney Yates (D-IL), produced alternative, “capability” budgets showing NEH’s Office of Preservation budget increasing from $4.5 million to $12.5 million for the coming fiscal year (FY89), with continuing increases for the following four ye to a level of $20.3 million. Testimony showed NEH and the Andrew W. Me Foundation to be the two largest funders of microfilming efforts in the nation. Decisions on the proposed increases are expected to be made in House and Senate committees by mid-summer.
Structure of a National
Cooperative Microfilming Program In testimony at the March 17 hearing, Commission President Pat Battin proposed a model for a national cooperative microfilming program. A goal of filming 150,000 volumes a year would require 20 institutions to commit to filming 7,500 volumes each. At the 150,000 annual rate, it would take about 20 years to film 3 million volumes–the estimated number of volumes it would be important to save in order to preserve a representative portion of the 10 million or more volumes that will turn to dust by that time. Congressman Yates and Lynne Cheney, NEH Chair, have mentioned alternative strategies–neither of which has been acted upon–that would also meet or exceed the 3-million-volume goal. One objective of Battin’s model is to show that the brittle book preservation problem has quantifiable objectives, and is not just an “insurmountable problem.”
Mellon President Endorses
Increased Funding for Preservation William G. Bowen, former President of Princeton and now President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, has also urged support for federal participation in a national cooperative preservation microfilming program. In a letter to Rep. Sidney Yates following the April 21 hearing, Bowen wrote: 1) The general objective is to preserve the published heritage of the past 150 years; 2) The proximate goal is to create microfilmed master copies (of archival quality) of at least the estimated 3.3 million books that constitute a minimum “common core” of the collections at risk; 3) The national stake in achieving this goal deserves emphasis; 4) The institutional mechanisms are in place to get on with the job; 5) There is no inherent “capacity limitation” that stands in the way of moving ahead much more rapidly; 6) Support from other sources must be encouraged, but the likely magnitude of such support should not be exaggerated, and 7) A substantial federal investment in this area is not only badly needed but will also clearly yield long-term benefits to the country as a whole. The letter followed Bowen’s earlier testimony, in which he said that the National Endowment for the Humanities was “by far” the single biggest funding source for humanities activities in the nation.
Increase in Number of
Libraries with Preservation Programs The number of university and research libraries with preservation departments has risen from five in 1978 to 54 in 1988, according to informal but authoritative discussions with staff of the National Preservation Program Office at the Library of Congress. The information was sought as part of the Commission’s response to inquiries from Congressman Yates’ office during the National Endowment for the Humanities appropriations hearings. Carolyn Morrow of the Library of Congress surveyed a list of university and re- search libraries and discovered 54 institutions where there are either designated preservation departments or staff persons, and where a notice- able level of preservation activity is occurring. The five institutions with active preservation components ten years ago were: Columbia University, the Library of Congress, Newberry Library, New York Public Library, and Yale University.
Grant from Mellon
Foundation The Commission has received a grant of $1,500,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, bringing the total of grants and pledges since the Commission’s founding in 1986 to $2.8 million. The Mellon grant, to be used for research projects and other activities related to the establishment of a national collaborative microfilming program, was one of several large preservation-related grants announced by the foundation. Other awards went to Yale University and the University of California at Berkeley ($500,000 each); $370,000 was awarded to the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (Big Ten universities and Chicago) in support of cooperative preservation programs. All three cooperative microfilming project grants were tied to NEH matching funds.
Survey of Foreign
Libraries’ Preservation Records A project to explore the feasibility of creating an international database of bibliographic records for preserved items will begin in June. Under the direction of Hans Rüutimann, former deputy director of the Modern Language Association, a survey of national libraries in Great Britain, France, West and East Germany, and Venezuela will be undertaken to: 1) Determine the extent to which preservation records exist in each country, 2) Identify the difficulties in converting records to machine-readable format and entering those records in a common database, 3) Agree on the level of bibliographic detail needed to exchange records easily, and 4) Determine the best way to proceed to create a shared database capacity. The project will also include the development of an agenda for a meeting of representatives from the participating countries and the preparation of a report documenting findings and outlining possible next steps. The project will be a key step in determining how to avoid overlap in filming of materials in the developing United States cooperative microfilming project.
Service to Study Archival Microfiche As many preservation microfilming experts know, archival standards for 105mm microfiche film do not yet exist. The Commission has contracted with the Mid-Atlantic Preservation Service in Bethlehem, PA, to conduct the necessary experiments with its new microfiche camera to allow the development of archival standards for microfiche similar to standards that now exist for 35mm film. Among the particular issues to be addressed in the study are: Operation of the 105mm step-and-repeat camera to assure uniform exposure and spacing; proper processing of 105mm roll film, including methylene blue testing; proper operation of a full-fiche quality review station, and other technical processes. The report, including recommendations for archival processing of 105mm film, is due by late 1988.
National Advisory Council
on Preservation to Meet in Fall The National Advisory Council on Preservation is intended to provide a link between organizations committed to preservation and the Commission on Preservation and Access. Its members include individuals designated by library, academic and scholarly organizations with an interest in preservation. Two new members of the Advisory Council have been named: David Hoekema, Executive Director of the American Philosophical Association, and John Howe, Interim Librarian of the University of Minnesota, both representing the American Council of Learned Societies. Preliminary plans for a fall meeting are underway .
Film Shown in Variety of Settings The film Slow Fires: On the Preservation of the Human Record, has been shown, widely on national public television stations and at several meetings and conferences, including the Modern Language Association annual meeting, the Association of American Publishers meeting, and the Association of College and Research Libraries meeting in Florence, Italy. The distributor reported that more than 200 copies of the film were sold in the last quarter of 1987, including the sale of 20 copies for use by United States Information Agency regional libraries throughout the world. Information about purchase or rental is available from the American Film Foundation, Box 2000, Santa Monica, CA 90406.
Learning About Alkaline
Paper One of the Commission’s goals is the encouragement of increasing use of acid-free paper. Among paper manufacturers known to be producing significant quantities of alkaline paper is the P. H. Glatfelter Paper Company, of Spring Grove, Pennsylvania (near Harrisburg). In addition to the Spring Grove mill, the company also produces alkaline paper at two other mills in Pisgah Forest, NC, and Neenah, WI. Commission staff and four others from the Washington area visited the plant in March to see an alkaline-process mill first-hand, and to learn what is involved in changing an acid-process mill to alkaline production. Officials of the company said that capital, equipment and other costs were manageable, but that the single most important factor in effecting a changeover was commitment to making it work. The dedication required on the part of engineers, chemists, plant foremen, workers and management needs to be “110%,” according to one officer of the company. The long-range payofff to converting to alkaline process, he added, includes cleaner mill operation, cleaner environment (especially water), and use of less expensive materials in the manufacturing process. Alkaline Paper Advocate newsletter, a good source of information about acid-free paper, is published periodically by Abbey Publications (320 E. Center Street, Provo, UT 84601.) Editor Ellen McCrady conducts a continuous search for papermakers who offer acid-free products; the current issue lists 38 mills that produce one or more lines of alkaline or neutral paper. Also reported: 30% of the 45,500 tons of printing paper produced each day in the nation is alkaline or neutral. One chemical company predicts that the percentage will climb to 50% in the next few years.
Getty Trust Funds
Conference on Preservation of Art History Materials Scholarly books in the art history and architecture disciplines create special problems for preservation, for the intellectual content of such volumes is in both text and image. Normal black-and-white microfilm technology is not suitable for reproduction of these documents, and at present, no facile and cost-effective means of preserving them is known. The Getty Trust has provided funds to hold a two-day conference in late October to consider the issue, it will be chaired by Pat Battin and John Haeger, Vice President of the Research Libraries Group for Programs and Planning. Invited participants will be asked to explore the variety of preservation needs within the art and architecture disciplines, and to identify areas where research is needed to develop eventual solutions.
Commission on Preservation and Access
1400 16th Street, NW, Suite 740 Washington, DC 20036-2217 (202) 939-3400 Fax: (202) 939-3407 The Commission on Preservation and Access was established in 1986 to foster and support collaboration among libraries and allied organizations in order to ensure the preservation of the published and documentary record in all formats and to provide enhanced access to scholarly information. The Newsletter reports on cooperative national and international preservation activities and is written primarily for university administrators and faculty, library and archives administrators, preservation specialists and administrators, and representatives of consortia, governmental bodies, and other groups sharing in the Commission’s goals. The Newsletter is not copyrighted; its duplication and distribution are encouraged.Patricia Battin–President
Peter Winterble–Program Officer, Editor Pamela D. Block–Administrative Assistant