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CPA Newsletter #20, Feb 1990

Commission on Preservation and Access

The Commission on Preservation and Access


February 1990

Number 20

Mellon Foundation Grant to Support International Cooperative Preservation

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has announced a $1-million grant to the Commission to support international preservation initiatives that complement and strengthen similar activities in the U.S. and Canada. The award, to be used over a period of approximately three years, will support the development of an international database of bibliographic records for preserved library materials. The funds also will help facilitate cooperative preservation microfilming outside the U.S. that is linked to similar work in this country.

Under the terms of the grant, the Commission will assist in the development of a coordinated management capacity that will provide for a truly integrated cooperative infrastructure for worldwide preservation of and access to scholarly resources. Among the planned activities to be sponsored by the grant are a series of pilot projects in various European countries. Hans Rütimann, consultant for the Commission’s International Project for the past year, will serve as project manager.

Working Meeting on International Register of Microform Masters

As part of the International Project supported by the Mellon Foundation, the Commission will hold a working meeting on the development of an international register of microform masters May 13-16, 1990, in Zurich, Switzerland. Fifteen representatives from national and major research libraries in Great Britain, France, Germany, Canada, and Venezuela have agreed to attend the session, where the Commission hopes to establish a series of basic agreements fundamental to the development of an integrated international database.

Participants include individuals with responsibilities for planning and implementing bibliographic control for reformatted materials. At a later stage, recommendations from this group may be submitted to a conference of library directors and other chief administrators, but the Zurich meeting has been designed to grapple with the practical issues of international cooperation.

Modern Language and Literature: New Scholarly Advisory Committee

A Scholarly Advisory Committee on Modern Language and Literature has been appointed by the Commission to help develop a national strategic plan for the preservation of the scholarly record in this field. The nine-member committee will advise on how to select books and journals, along with other works, which must have the highest priority for preservation. Persons who have agreed to serve are acquainted with American, 18th century, Renaissance, medieval, and Victorian literature, as well as German, French, and Afro-American work. The first meeting of the group will be scheduled for early this year. The committee joins three other scholarly advisory committees in the disciplines of art history, philosophy, and history.

Members are: Emory Elliott, President’s Chair of English, University of California, Riverside; John Fisher, Department of English, University of Tennessee, Knoxville; H.L. Gates, Jr., W.E.B. Dubois Professor of English, Cornell University; Elaine Marks, Department of French, University of Wisconsin-Madison; J. Hillis Miller (Chair), Department of English and Comparative Literature, University of California, Irvine; W.J.T. Mitchell, Department of English, University of Chicago; Rainer Nagele, Department of German, The Johns Hopkins University; Annabel Patterson, Department of English, Duke University; and Catharine R. Stimpson, Dean of the Graduate School-New Brunswick and Vice Provost for Graduate Education, Rutgers University.

Nationwide Microfilming Program Featured in AIIM Magazine

Inform, the magazine of the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM), includes a feature on the NEH-funded microfilming program in its November-December issue (Vol. 3, Nos. 11 & 12), along with a sidebar article on the use of a step and repeat camera for preservation microfilming based on a report to the Commission from the Mid-Atlantic Preservation Service. For more information, contact: AIIM, 1100 Wayne Avenue, Suite 1100, Silver Spring, MD 20910.

Technical Issues on Decision Making for Mass Deacidification to be Addressed in Upcoming Report

The Commission has contracted with Peter Sparks, former Preservation Officer at the Library of Congress, to prepare a Commission report on the major technical elements involved in a library’s decision to select a mass deacidification process for preservation. Although the report is expected to address the philosophy and reasoning behind the decision-making process, it will focus on the technical considerations and evaluation factors involved in selecting a vendor. An exact publication date has not been set.

Saint Alcuin: Forerunner of Preservation Movement?

graphic omitted, Illustration by Bill Megenhardt

Famed as an educator and a conserver and spreader of learning, Alcuin may be the saint that preservationists have been looking for to take a place along with library supporters Saints Jerome, Laurence, and Wiborada. Saint Alcuin stands out as one of the first school administrators in history to establish programs to preserve scholarly knowledge.

Born about 730 near York, England, Alcuin was educated at the cathedral school there and later became its head. An ordained deacon, he became known as a conserver and spreader of learning who attracted numerous students. As such, he was especially careful in the management of the library. Following a meeting in 781 with the Emperor Charlemagne in Pavia (Italy), Alcuin was persuaded to take up residence at the court of Charlemagne as the educational and ecclesiastical adviser. As the royal tutor, he established the royal school and library.

In his direction of Charlemagne’s Palace School at Achene, Alcuin was chiefly responsible for the preservation of the classical heritage of western civilization. He is considered the inspirer of the “Carolingian Renaissance.” Schools were revived in cathedrals and monasteries, and manuscripts of both pagan and Christian writings of antiquity were collated and copied. It is said that Alcuin did more than anyone else to make the Frankish court a center of culture and to encourage Charlemagne’s educational enterprises throughout the realm.

Additional College and University Sponsors

In addition to the 30 colleges and universities listed in the January 1990 newsletter, the following institutions have pledged financial support over the next three years to the Commission, as of January 1, 1990:

  • University of Chicago
  • New York State Library
  • Syracuse University

The support of the academic community is a vital component of the Commission’s capacity to continue and expand its activities to facilitate national and international plans for the preservation of our scholarly resources and written heritage. In addition to academic sponsors, the Council on Library Resources and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation have renewed their initial grants for general support of the Commission for another two years.

Second Regional Commission Meeting Scheduled for New York

The Commission scheduled its January 1990 quarterly meeting to be held at the New York Public Library so that sponsoring institutions in the Northeast-Middle Atlantic Region could meet with Commission members during the afternoon session. The first of this series of regional meetings was held in Chicago in November 1989.

Playing at Preservation and Access:
The Bodleian Game

At last dedicated librarians–especially those with a keen interest in the preservation of and access to materials–have available The Bodleian Game. Issued by the Bodleian Library, and available in the United States from the Pierpont Morgan Library (29 East 36th Street, New York, NY 10016) for $45.90 (including shipping and handling; item BLG-16; checks only), this is a complex board game for up to six “readers.” The object is to find your way around the board and through the various parts of the Bodleian Library in a quest to compile a bibliography of fourteen books from one of six different research topics (e.g., Women and Society). The trick lies in understanding the arcane catalogues of the Bodleian Library and then tracking down the shelfmarks for the relevant books. Each of those books is represented by a 2″ X 3 1/2″ card containing an illustration and appropriate information including, sometimes, a reference to another book on the subject. But as the rules of play indicate: “It should be noted that some of the books you call will provide you with no references, or references you already have. Such is the nature of research!”

The books may be listed in the pre-1920 catalogue, the interim catalogue, the post-1920 catalogue of the Bodleian itself, or the catalogues of one of eleven other libraries; and, of course, while the title and library location may be found in one of the three main catalogues, the shelfmark is not, so the faithful reader has to trek around the board from library to library seeking to locate and “read the books needed to win the game before his/her fellow readers can do so. The game certainly demonstrates how complex research can be in the manual catalogues of non-automated libraries. As with many traditional board games, the reader is also subject to various penalties or rewards, represented by chance cards, that are drawn at appropriate points along the way.

The current international interest in preservation and conservation is represented in two of the chance cards. “Book out to Conservation–collect book next turn.” “Caught eating and have your reader’s ticket confiscated–go to Admissions [CO] to reclaim it.” In addition, one of the several squares that any reader may land on along the way is marked “Fire Alarm Test;” when this square is landed upon, all players then in the Old Library must move out to an adjacent square.

Well made, and accompanied by a simple fact sheet on The Bodleian Library, this is far more complicated than most American board games but still great fun. It’s a game not to be missed by the true devotees of preservation and access. Buy one now to practice for the challenge series that the Commission on Preservation and Access will be sponsoring, perhaps at a future ALA Conference.

Review contributed by Norman D. Stevens, Library Director, University of Connecticut

Time Location Established for Environmental Conditions Course

A course to be offered by the Association of Physical Plant Administrators (APPA) in cooperation with the Commission has been scheduled for a two-day period sometime between February 15 and March 15, 1991, in e Washington, DC, area. As formulated in a December 1989 planning meeting hosted by the Commission, the goal of the course will be to foster more productive working relationships between librarians/archivists and plant administrators so as to improve environmental conditions of library and archives materials.

Participants will include librarians and archivists as well as plant administrators. Representative teams from single institutions will be encouraged to attend. Registration costs will be the same for all participants from APPA-member institutions. The tentative attendance limit is 150. As now envisioned, the course will be hosted by a two-person team consisting of a librarian or archivist and a physical plant administrator. Tours to sites of preservation work, such as the Smithsonian Institution, National Archives, and Libra of Congress, may be planned as course supplements.

Further information is available from: Wayne Leroy, Associate Vice President, Association of Physical Plant Administrators of Universities and Colleges, 1446 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314-3492.

Planning Task Force members from the Commission are: Patti McClung, RLG: Joel Clemmer, Macalester College; and Don Kelsey, University of Minnesota

…Until the Course Comes Along: Tips for Low-Cost Environmental Control

Reprinted with permission from the Northeast Document Conservation Center and based on guidelines being developed by William Lull, of Garrison/Lull, Allentown, NJ, for the New York State Library Division of Library Development.
  1. Keep winter heat low. If overheating occurs, don’t allow windows to be opened–demand that the heat be turned down. Open windows and leaky doors allow outside air in, and allow desirable winter humidity to escape. Keep a few sweaters and blankets for staff or visitors who feel cold with the temperature around 65 degrees Fahrenheit, and explain why you’re keeping things cool.
  2. Seal windows. Use plastic sheets and tape to seal windows on the inside in winter. In storage areas, line windows with aluminum foil. and seal them more completely with gypsum wallboard and plastic. The foil will reflect sun away to reduce heat in summer. and will also keep light out of storage areas.
  3. Keep outside doors and windows closed; weatherstrip. Weatherstrip doors, and make sure doors and windows stay closed to prevent exchange of unconditioned outside air. Test seals: if a strip of tissue paper waves in the breeze when it s held up to a crack the seal isn’t tight.
  4. Block radiant heat from radiators. If you can’t moue collections well away from radiators in storage or exhibit spaces. cover wallboard with reflective foil and position this barrier between the radiators and collections to protect objects from “line-of-sight” heat transmission.
  5. Keep equipment at one level 24 hours a day. Don’t change settings on climate equipment for nights or weekends, since damaging humidity fluctuations usually result. This includes both heat and window air conditioners. Be sure humidifiers or dehumidifiers are on, and that they’re always adequately filled (or emptied) to maintain steady conditions. Choose a lower constant humidifier setting to prevent it from running out of water. or raise the constant RH setting on your dehumidifier so it will not overflow or shut off from too much water. While improving the stability of conditions 24 hours a day usually requires little or no capital investment, using the equipment you have continuously almost always increases annual energy costs. Keep in mind that some of the most acute short-term damage to collections is caused by discontinuous operation of climate-control equipment.
  6. Separate collections that need special conditions; use available spaces the best way. Look at the available storage areas. Can you modify your use of space to suit the collections better? Are some spaces more stable, or more easily improved than others? Do some materials in your collections (like parchment or vellum) need different conditions from others? Can these be segregated into groups with similar needs? This may reduce the need for new or improved conservation environments.

Permanent Paper Support Continues to Grow

International Publishers Association

The International Publishers Association adopted a resolution in October calling for its members and affiliates to use acid-free papers whenever possible for uncoated stock, and to use alkaline pH for coated stock until standards are available. In addition, the association calls for a note in all such publications that acid-free paper is being used.

Wilson Library Bulletin

Joining several other journals, the Wilson Library Bulletin will begin noting within its review columns when books are published on alkaline paper, by placing the infinity symbol at the end of the bibliographical information. The new practice began in the January 1990 issue, where Editor Mary Jo Godwin also discussed the procedures used by the Bulletin in the This Month at WLB section.

December Meeting Results:
College Libraries Committee Investigates Expanded Communications Role; Training for Part-Time Preservation Personnel

Communication and training needs were discussed by members of the College Libraries Committee during its third meeting, held December 6, 1989, at Commission headquarters. Michael Haeuser, Head Librarian, Gustavus Adolphus College, was welcomed as a new member, replacing David A. Kearley, Librarian, University of the South.

A sample column for possible publication in College and Research Libraries News met with unanimous support from the committee. If it is accepted, the column will be used to further spread knowledge about preservation activities to college and university library personnel beyond the immediate contacts of this committee. The committee continues to receive results from a survey of the Oberlin Group and others describing their endangered materials that may be candidates for preservation microfilming. A committee subgroup has encouraged college libraries to develop funding strategies for preserving these materials. When the new NEH guidelines are published, Will Bridegam, chair of the subgroup, will alert survey respondents to their availability.

A discussion on education and training for the part-time preservation librarian occupied the major portion of the meeting. Lisa Fox, Program Coordinator for SOLINET, led an extensive discussion on the assumptions, topics, schedule, and design for a possible new course for part-time preservation librarians. There was a consensus that any course that is developed be provided on an equitable basis. and that some scholarship assistance be provided to help achieve this goal. In addition, colleges and universities intending to send staff members would be expected to state their commitment to preservation. Recommendations regarding this course will be made by the committee to the Commission in advance of the next meeting, which was set for Monday, April 23.

Committee Members: Willis E. Bridegam, Librarian, Amherst College; Barbara J. Brown. University Librarian, Washington & Lee University; Joel Clemmer. Library Director, Macalester College; David Cohen, Director of Libraries. College of Charleston; Caroline M. Coughlin. Library Director, Drew University: Michael Haeuser, Head Librarian. Gustavus Adolphus College: Jacquelyn M. Morris, College Librarian, Occidental College: and Kathleen M. Spencer (chair). Library Director, Franklin & Marshall College.

American Philosophical Association Hosts Brittle Books Exhibit

photo omitted

The Commission premiered its new “giant brittle book exhibit at a meeting of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association in late December. The exhibit featured a one-of-a-kind, two- by three-foot brittle book bound in leather, created by Kent State University Audio Visual Services, University Libraries and Media Services. Examples of normal-sized brittle books from the New York Public Library were on display, along with testing pens from Abbey Publications for determining the level of acidity of the paper. Philosophers were particularly interested in how they could influence decisions at the campus and national levels to preserve materials of value to their research and teaching programs. The giant book travels next to the College Art Association conference February 15-17, 1990, in New York City.

graphic omitted

A limited number of the “Going, Going, Gone” brochures developed by the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services, American Library Association, are available on a complimentary basis from the Commission, which helped sponsor a second printing. The six-panel brochure succinctly explains the problem of brittle books and then suggests some positive actions on the part of scholars, historians, researchers, writers, and students interested in helping save the books. The Commission will provide up to five free copies on a one-time basis, upon written request. Single and multiple copies are available from: ALA Graphics, American Library Association, 50 East Huron St., Chicago, IL. 60611. (Single copies 50 cents, with SASE; request catalog for multiple copies.)

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
Maxine K. Sitts–Program Officer, Editor
Pamela D. Block–Administrative Assistant


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