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CPA Newsletter #26, Aug 1990

Commission on Preservation and Access

The Commission on Preservation and Access


August 1990

Number 26

Summertime Good News Edition

Joint Task Force on Text and Image Preservation Membership Announced; First Meeting Scheduled

Thirteen specialists in art, architecture, archaeology, geology and geography, history, and medicine have accepted membership on the Joint Task Force on Text and Image Preservation. In developing the task force, the Commission is aiming to assemble a range of professional talent and scholarly interests that would facilitate the discovery of commonalities as well as differences in the preservation needs of disciplines that depend upon both image and text for their intellectual work. The group’s first meeting will be held September 14-15 in New York City.

The decision to assemble a broad range of specialists at the beginning of the Joint Task Force was taken deliberately in the hope that the group might more easily come to grips with diversity while still being able to perceive commonality. It is the Commission’s intention to expand beyond the current disciplinary areas, either by adding members to the task force or by inviting specialists to attend meetings, prepare papers or offer critical comment on a consultancy basis. How such expansion should take place and in what directions will be heavily determined by the deliberations and the findings of the current membership.

A Getty Grant Program award is supporting the task force in connection with two other interdependent activities: A demonstration project on high resolution color microfilm by the Mid-Atlantic Preservation Service, Bethlehem, PA, and a research project on color microfilm being conducted by Image Permanence Institute, Rochester (NY) Institute of Technology. [See related article–“Expanded Research Scope” in this issue.]

Joint Task Force Membership as of June 30: Nancy Allen, Library, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Thomas Battle, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center Library, Howard University, Washington, DC; Robert Brentano, Department of History, University of California, Berkeley; Richard Brilliant, Department of Art History,(Chairman), Columbia University; David Brownlee, Department of History of Art, University of Pennsylvania; Janet Buerger, International Museum of Photography, Rochester; Angela Giral, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University; Anne Kenney, Library, Cornell University; Susan Klimley, Lamont-Doherty Geoscience Library, Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory of Columbia University; Katherine Martinez, Library, Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum; James McCredie, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University; Robert Neiley, Robert Neiley Architects, Boston;John Parascandola, History of Medicine Division, National Library of Medicine.

Research Scope Expanded for Text-and-Image Preservation Microfilming

Research regarding the use of color microfilm for the preservation of publications containing text and images will be expanded based on new findings reported by the Image Permanence Institute (IPI), Rochester, NY. Originally, a January 1990 Commission agreement with IPI called for a study of the dark stability properties of color microfilm. However, examination of Cibachrome film on polyester base has indicated that the dyes are more stable than the base after accelerated aging for extended time periods.

Based on these findings, IPI will be expanding their research to compare Cibachrome and chromogenic microfilm. In addition to measuring the dye fading and stain growth, researchers will evaluate the base properties determined by tensile strength and acidity measurements. The new research will not alter the basic time frame or financial arrangements of the original agreement. IPI’s research is one of three interdependent activities funded by a $254,000 award to the Commission from The Getty Grant Program.

In keeping with a tradition begun in August of last year, this Newsletter highlights good news from a variety of organizations.

Publication of an archives preservation planning document, resource guide, and computer diskette products is being supported by a supplemental grant of $24,388 to the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators (NAGARA), Albany, NY, from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). NHPRC has previously funded development of the product, titled “Preservation Planning for Archives: A Self-Study Approach.”

A coordinated approach to dealing with the critical problem of decaying books in Canada’s libraries will be launched with a grant of $875,000 (US) to the National Library of Canada (NLC) by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. NLC will coordinate a three-year project with the research libraries of McGill University, Universite Laval, the University of Alberta, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Toronto. Key objectives are to promote a coordinated national approach to the conservation effort and to avoid duplication of work and expense in the production of microforms to replace books too brittle to be handled. The project will enable Canada to play a more important role in the international effort to preserve the world’s intellectual heritage.

Regional cooperative preservation programs, microfilming of manuscripts and printed materials, professional conservation treatment of research materials, and general preservation surveys are some of the activities being supported by the New York State Discretionary Grant Program for the Conservation and Preservation of Library Research Materials during 1990-91. Thirty-eight institutions received funding ranging from $1200 to $25,000. The Discretionary Grant Program provides modest financial support to libraries, archives, historical societies, and similar agencies within the state in order to encourage the proper care and accessibility of research materials, promote the use and development of guidelines and technical standards, and support local and cooperative activities within the context of emerging national preservation activities.

Five cooperative preservation projects by comprehensive research libraries in New York State have been funded by the state s Program for the Conservation and Preservation of Library Research Materials. (1) New York University. Syracuse University, and New York Public Library will be cooperating with the preservation of historical photographic materials. (2) New York University, New York Public Library, Julliard School, and Mannes College of Music will collaborate with preservation photocopying of music research collections. (3) Syracuse University, University of Rochester, New York Public Library, New York University, and Syracuse University will work together on the preservation of acetate-based audio materials. (4) Cornell University and New York State University will join together to preserve the heritage of the state’s agricultural and rural economy. (5) State University of New York (SUNY), Stony Brook; Cornell University; New York Public Library; New York State Library; SUNY Binghamton; Syracuse University: and University of Rochester will be working jointly on phase 111 of a state Cartographic Materials Preservation Project. The grants range from $22,383 to $118,977.

Preservation expenditures during 1988-89 for 107 members of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) increased 23.6 percent over the previous year, according to ARL Preservation Statistics 1988-89. The recently-released compilation reports that funds from external sources are increasingly augmenting institutional resources, with a significant portion of preservation budgets coming from grants. The 107 reporting institutions spent $60-million for preservation in 1988-89; total preservation staff in the 107 libraries was 1620, an increase of 12.5 percent over 1987-88. ARL Preservation Statistics is published annually and is available for $20 to ARL members and $60 to nonmembers from: ARL, 1527 New Hampshire Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20036.

Guidelines for recording preservation data in either the Cataloging or Union List Subsystems of the OCLC Online Union Catalog (OLUC) have been developed, based on recommendations of the OCLC Preservation Task Force, a group of 10 preservation officers and librarians from OCLC-member and Research Libraries Group (RLG)-member libraries. Many preservation projects are funded by National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grants, whose rules stipulate that librarians should communicate information about items planned for preservation to avoid duplication of effort. The OCLC database provides a way to communicate such information to libraries. OCLC is a nonprofit computer library service and research organization whose computer network and products link more than 10,000 libraries in 39 countries.

A sizable study of preservation needs expected to benefit thousands of academic, public, special and school libraries throughout the U.S. and 38 other countries is being initiated by OCLC. The study will include a survey of library needs and the development of a model program to meet those needs. OCLC’s RONDAC (Regional OCLC Network Directors Advisory Committee) Ad Hoc Committee on Preservation has selected Dr. Margaret Child as its consultant for the study, which will be conducted in conjunction with planning for the RONDAC Preservation Program. The goals of the RONDAC project are to identify existing programmatic preservation services within regions; suggest new and expanded services; and coordinate strategies with existing national efforts such as those sponsored by the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH), the Commission, the Research Libraries Group, and the Library of Congress.

Exploring the Promises of Technology
Cornell, Xerox and the Commission Join in Book Preservation Project

Cornell University, Xerox Corporation and the Commission are collaborating in a pilot project to test an advanced technology for recording deteriorating books as digital images and producing, on demand, multiple high-quality copies. The 18-month research and development study with potential benefits for libraries worldwide will include scanning 1,000 volumes in Cornell’s Olin Library into a digital image storage system. The test is being funded partially by the Commission.

Xerox, based in Stamford, CT, is providing the technology and extensive staff support. Both the Library and Information Technologies units at Cornell University are involved in the study. Participants expect the combined value of funding, equipment and personnel to bring the project’s total cost to several million dollars.

The project will explore the technical feasibility and cost-effectiveness of the process; the criteria for selecting materials to be preserved; and methods of cataloging, searching and retrieving the stored materials. This is tremendously exciting,” said Alain Seznec, the Carl A. Kroch University Librarian and former dean of Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences. Many scholars in the humanities are fully aware of the deterioration of library collections, but they are reluctant to let go of real, paper books. This technology offers a way to have our cake and eat it, too.”

Although microfilming does allow copying for distribution, many patrons don’t like it for access,’ said M. Stuart Lynn, Cornell’s vice president for information technologies. Lynn also is a member of the Commission’s Technology Assessment Advisory Committee (TAAC), which is tracking on this program and other digital technology developments. According to Lynn, digital image scanning can be highly efficient for access because multiple copies can be made quite readily at any time after the document is digitized. Digitizing also enables material to be transmitted across the nations computer data networks. High-quality copies that are created are stored as a scanned digitized image for distribution and reproduction as needed, rather than in alphanumeric form, as numbers and letters. Although a computer could not be used to search such digitized images for certain passages or to index them, the scanned documents could be converted into alphanumeric form at some later time.

The Cornell-Xerox project will explore the potential capabilities of digital image technology to combine the storage and duplication characteristics of microfilm and the usability of paper reproductions with transmission and distribution capabilities not available with film and paper. Lynn noted that although several libraries have developed customized systems for similar purposes, the project is the first to work toward providing higher-quality images and a standardized system that ultimately can be used by any library.

Xerox’s vice president of worldwide marketing and customer relations, Charles E. Buchheit, said, “Through joint projects like this, Xerox gains a better understanding of the requirements of document users. The Cornell project is an example of Xerox employing its capabilities to provide solutions to document problems that cannot be solved using existing methods. And while many technologies are limited to preservation, this solution also provides access to stored materials.” Further information is available from Sam Siegal, Cornell University News Service (607) 255-5678, or Bob Wagner, Xerox Corporation, (716) 423-1320.

The Commission’s involvement in the project is made possible by a general program grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Committee Report on Image Formats

Applications of digital technology to preservation and access needs are explored in a new report to the Commission from the Technology Assessment Advisory Committee (TAAC). The 10-page report is one of a number expected from the TAAC–a group of seven individuals from industry, publishing, and academia that advises the Commission on possible new technologies for dealing with endangered materials. This first report, Image Formats for Preservation and Access(July 1990), compares digital and microfilm imagery and concludes that making either kind of copy is preferable to leaving acidic paper to decay.

The report looks at image formats as they relate to preservation, storage, conversion, and transmission. A basic assumption is that the primary expense of salvaging a book is in the selection process and initial handling, while the cost of later conversion from one modern medium to another is comparatively small.

Digital imagery offers libraries substantial long-term promise, according to the report’s principal author, Michael Lesk: “Digital imagery, where books are scanned into computer storage, is a promising alternative process. Storing page images of books permits rapid transfer of books from library to library (much simpler and faster than copying microfilm). . . At present the handling of these images still requires special skills and equipment few libraries possess, but there is rapid technological progress in the design of disk drives, displays, and printing devices. Imaging technology will be within the reach of most libraries within a decade.”

However, the report also stresses the need to continue with current preservation methods: “Because microfilm to digital image conversion is going to be relatively straightforward, and the primary cost of either microfilming or digital scanning is in selecting the book, handling it, and turning the pages, librarians should use either method as they can manage, expecting to convert to digital form over the next decade. Postponing microfilming because digital is coming is only likely to be frustrating and allow further deterioration of important books.”

To help stimulate further discussions on this subject, the Commission has distributed copies free of charge to all those on its mailing list. Additional complimentary copies are available while supplies last.

The report represents the views of all TAAC members–(Chair) Rowland C. W. Brown, President, OCLC (retired); Adam Hodgkin, Managing Director, Cherwell Scientific Publishing Limited: Douglas van Houweling, Vice Provost for Information Technologies, University of Michigan: Michael Lesk, Division Manager, Computer Science Research, Bellcore: M. Stuart Lynn. Vice President, Information Technologies, Cornell University Robert Spinrad. Director, Corporate Technology, Xerox Corporation: and Robert L. Street, Vice President for Information Resources, Stanford University.

Another Commission Sponsor

Swarthmore College has joined with 35 other academic institutions to help sponsor the Commission s activities. The support of the higher education and research library community is a vital component of the Commission’s capacity to facilitate national and international initiatives for the preservation of our scholarly resources and written heritage.


Robert D. Stueart, Dean of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College in Boston, recently joined the Task Force on Preservation Education. This group of educators is exploring the current status of preservation education, the projected requirements for the next decade, and ways in which existing programs can be strengthened and expanded to meet the new challenges.


Our nation can ill afford the price we will pay for limiting our access to information.

Senator Daniel P> Moynihan (D-NY), in introducing a bill to exempt the Library of Congress and other major research libraries from the Gramm Rudman automatic budget cuts. (1986).

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
Patricia Cece, Communications Assistant


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