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CPA Newsletter #29, Nov-Dec 1990

Commission on Preservation and Access

The Commission on Preservation and Access


November-December 1990

Number 29

AALL Completes Micropublisher Survey Pretest

Included as an insert to this newsletter is the final report from the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), with which the Commission contracted in summer 1989 to pretest a form for surveying companies, agencies, and libraries that produce and store first-generation master negatives. The survey covers microform production and quality control, storage of first-generation master negative film, storage containers and enclosures, and inspection of stored first-generation negatives. (For more information, see the August 1989 and March 1990 Commission newsletters.)

According to Willis C. Meredith and Naomi Ronen of the Harvard Law Library, who conducted site visits to seven micropublishers representing 12 different companies:

The opportunity to have face-to-face discussions with production personnel at a variety of companies allowed us to improve the survey form. The information gathered by this form will be essential to future preservation planning on a national level.

The pretest demonstrated the need for a comprehensive survey. The answers that we received from the companies in the pretest and our discussions with production personnel show that there can be major differences between the standards used for the production and storage of master negatives for commercial purposes and for preservation. It must be a priority to determine what these differences are.

All the publishers that we talked with were eager to discuss these differences as well as the ways that they can work with preservation librarians. Given the importance of this discussion for preservation, we suggest the immediate investigation of how to continue and expand the sharing of ideas and concerns started by the pretest.

The Commission has distributed advance copies of the report and draft survey form to nearly 100 persons on its mailing list.

Scanning Automatic Format Recognition Not Yet Viable

A research project conducted under a Commission contract to the Research Libraries Group, Inc., (RLG) has concluded that the tested scanning and automatic format recognition (AFR) technology cannot be considered at this time as a viable mechanism for converting printed bibliographic records into machine-readable MARC format. By establishing as fact what can and cannot be accomplished currently, the project results represent a significant contribution to our knowledge of available technological options for the conversion of preservation search tools. Tests were conducted with Optiram Automation Ltd., London, the only company currently identified with a system that might be capable of dealing with the complexities of library catalog records. For the tests:

Optiram was supplied with photocopies–one card per page–of 300 cards, 50 from each of six RLG member libraries. The quality of the source data varied widely, from clean, well-typed cards with consistent layout, to manuscript cards. Many had smudges and erasures, handwritten annotations in any available space, and words or numbers written across the hole. Some appeared to be on buff or blue stock so that photocopying only exacerbated their native illegibility. In short, they were normal cards to be found in any library catalog more than 25 years old (and some much younger).

RLG concluded that content designation problems were not solved for the test, and that the premise that Optiram’s combination of scanning and AFR might provide a straightforward means of creating directly usable MARC records from printed source material was not validated. RLG plans to pursue investigation of a centrally managed mass reconversion program that would combine scanning and AFR capabilities with vendor-supplied post-processing and authority work.

Copies of the two-page project report are available from Trish Cece, Communications Assistant.

New Report on Copyright and Preservation

The copyright implications of large-scale preservation and access programs are explored in a paper prepared for the Commission by Robert L. Oakley, Director of the Law Library and Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. Copyright and Preservation: A Serious Problem in Need of a Thoughtful Solutionaddresses the specific concerns and issues of copyright compliance arising from the unprecedented massive reformatting of deteriorating books and journals printed on acid paper.

Oakley reviews the sections of the copyright law covering the copying of printed materials for preservation purposes and emphasizes the fact that the current copyright law does not include provisions for the distribution of information in electronic format. In addition to a comprehensive review of the copyright law and subsequent judicial interpretations, Oakley proposes a number of alternative means to protect intellectual rights while providing, at the same time, expanded access to preserved materials.

According to Oakley, congressional revision of the current law is unlikely without a consensus among the library and publishing communities on the importance of the problem and the appropriateness of the proposed changes to the Copyright Act. The 65-page paper has been distributed to the Commission’s U.S. mailing list. Additional copies are available for $15.00. Orders must be prepaid, with checks (no cash) made payable to “The Commission on Preservation and Access.” Payment must be in U.S. funds.

Annual Report Distributed

The 1989-90 Annual Report of the Commission has been distributed to all those on its mailing list. The 49-page report describes the work of the Commission from July 1, 1989. through June 30, 1990, and features a special section on progress being made with the technical assessment agenda. The support of the Commission’s expanded base of 36 sponsors is acknowledged in the report, which is dedicated to the many activists and funding agencies, both public and private, whose sustained efforts remain essential to the collaborative successes of the preservation and access movement. Additional copies are available at no cost while supplies last from Trish Cece, Communications Assistant.

Mass Deacidification in Research Libraries

Mass Deacidification Systems: Planning and Managerial Decision Making–a 24-page report by Karen Turko, Head of Preservation Service, University of Toronto–is now available from the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). The preface states: Only a few ARL libraries have embarked on a planning process for the deacidification of their collections on a large scale. While the challenges facing libraries are substantial, limited progress has been made in resolving basic managerial and operational issues. During this critical transition period, it is important to identify and examine these issues and to analyze different available options. This report is intended to aid in that process by looking at mass deacidification from a management perspective. It explores issues such as selection of material for treatment, collection management, and financial considerations.” Copies are available for $15.00 (prepaid) from: ARL, 1527 New Hampshire Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20036.

A Research Review:
Paper Strengthening at the British Library

The following research review was prepared at the Commission’s request by Peter G. Sparks as one follow-up to the Directory of Information Sources on Scientific Research, March 1990.

“Paper Strengthening at the British Library: Recent Developments in the Graft Copolymerization Technique,” by C.E. Butler, D.W.G. Clements and C.A. Millington, in Preservation and Technology: Proceedings of a Seminar at York University Z0-21 July. 7988 pp. 65-74, (National Preservation Office Seminar Paper, 3) ISBN O 7123 01720.
This report should be definite reading for preservation officers and librarians interested in following technical developments in the use of multiple treatment processes for the strengthening of paper bound in books. The authors present a review of the theoretical approach, early laboratory and pilot plant studies, library requirements, and key results and conclusions to date, all of which raise several questions and whet the appetite for more information, which is promised in the future.

After a brief historical introduction the paper moves into an explanation of how the process works. Every page in the book needs to be impregnated with a mixture of two different liquid chemicals (monomers) which are then polymerized, using gamma radiation, to a solid copolymer which is claimed to be chemically bonded (grafted) to the cellulose molecules of the paper. This combination of a significant level of solid copolymer in the paper (15 to 20% by weight) and the bonding of the copolymer to the cellulose lends strength to the weakened paper. Later in the paper, under conclusions, the authors note that adequate impregnation time is needed to get a good distribution of the liquids in the pages and that it is essential for all volumes to receive the same gamma radiation dose in order to get a good result. These two requirements should generate some interesting trade-offs in solubility effects of the monomers on inks and adhesives and should make also for some special book handling procedures. Some ongoing work with book handling is mentioned, and the presence of solvent effects is acknowledged as manageable. A passing reference is made to the possibility of combining deacidification into the process but this notion is not elaborated upon as part of the active experimental program.

It is clear from the data presented that the process can achieve an adequate level and a uniform distribution of polymer within a book, and also show reproducible polymer loading between similar or different books in a pilot plant trial. Polymer loading accounts for a 15 to 20% increase in the book’s weight. These positive results are very important because the process could not be seriously considered for further development without them.

The paper strengthening data are worth careful study. These data are from early studies and show fold strength enhancement for a variety of papers in the range of 5 to 10 times. The interesting observation is that none of the paper samples went into the treatment in a truly brittle condition, i.e., with an MIT fold equal to or less than 1. The lowest initial fold values were 8 and 9, and the highest 295. Conclusion five notes that good increases were observed in most papers but that results were variable when the paper’s initial fold value was less than ten.

One is led by this to ask the question of just how effective will this process, or for that matter will any strengthening process, be in adding flexural strength to really brittle papers Maybe what we are really talking about is strengthening just the weak-to-moderate strength papers that are not yet brittle. The latter is a very important task that will keep the already enormous mound of brittle books from getting larger; however, strengthening may not be able to delay significantly the need to transfer information on existing brittle papers to another preservation format. The library preservation field could use some more data and discussion on this point in order to clarify the issue.

The paper does mention that some further studies are being done at a testing laboratory to observe the effects of the treatment on the long-term aging characteristics of treated papers, and that initial results are encouraging. All in all the paper does a good job at showing the nature and the complexity of the effort needed to iron out the details of establishing a workable mass treatment process. The authors should be encouraged to keep publishing the scientific results of this important project so the library preservation field can continue to benefit from their future work.

Paper Progress

House Passes H.J. RES. 226 on Permanent Paper

H.J. Res. 226, establishing a national policy on permanent paper. was passed by the House by voice vote on September 17. The Senate approved the House amendment on September 26. The bill is being sent to the President for his signature.

Rep. Pat Williams (D-MT) introduced H.J. Res. 226, which is the House version of S.J. Res. 57 passed by the Senate in July 1989. S..) Res. 57 was introduced by Sen. Claiborne Pell (D-RI). Both of these resolutions promote and encourage the printing of books of enduring value on alkaline paper.

Comments from the Paper Industry

On August 1 and 2, the House Administration Subcommittee on Procurement and Printing, chaired by Rep. Jim Bates (D-CA, held hearings on HR 4523, the Congressional Recycling Act of 1990. to require Congress to purchase recycled paper products to the greatest extent practicable. One of the witnesses. Thomas Norris of P.H. Glatfelter Co., representing the American Paper Institute, noted that acid-free recycled paper was available and that the requirements for the use of recycled and permanent paper could be accommodated without conflict.

from ALA Washington Newsletter, August 15, 1990. page 2 (published by the American Library Association’s Washington, DC, office)

Recently, there s been a lot of discussion about the growth of acid-free papermaking in the United States. Many paper manufacturers have already converted to this process; more are planning to do so in the near future. In fact, many industry experts predict that almost half our paper capacity will be alkaline by the end of 1990…. [A]rchival quality has long been important to book publishers, libraries, governments and others interested in materials that withstand the ravages of time. However, this permanence factor is now becoming important in other areas as well. Increased litigation and continued regulation of many industries mandate efficient records management. More permanent documents can be important in legal and financial matters….

From Alkaline Papermaking – The Wave of the Future, Brochure (1990, 10 pp.) from Hammermill Papers, 6400 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, TN 38197-7000

Without giving it a second thought, ten generations of Americans lost a basic freedom which has yet to be totally regained. When paper went acid, written records and images became destined for eventual destruction. The further our societies advanced, the more we destroyed the evidence of our progress. From the viewpoint of history, volumes of knowledge, wisdom and creativity may as well have never been recorded…

…. As both a high-performance industry and a group of concerned citizens, the paper industry should lead the permanence issue and define it by matching customer needs and wants and setting new standards for quality. performance, and the environment…. The industry can provide the leadership to step out in front on the issue. Time is of the essence.

Martin Koepenick, Innova International (a company providing public affairs counsel on global market issues and having extensive dealings in the pulp and paper industry), “Permanent paper: The freedom to choose,” in IMA (Paper Industry Management Association), January 1990, pp.21-24.

ARL Publishes Updated Alkaline Briefing Package

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has published a revised and updated version of the 1988 ML Briefing Package entitled Rescuing Knowledge: The Case for Alkaline Paper. The publication was produced collaboratively with the support of the Commission, the American Library Association and the National Humanities Alliance. The paperbound book includes the following sections: Overview and Background, Paper Industry Developments, Library Community Initiatives, Author and Publisher Support, Federal and State Government Responses. Standards, and Fact Sheets. Complimentary copies were mailed to the Commission’s sponsors. Copies are being sold by ML, 1527 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036.

Newsletter Insert

American Association of Law Libraries/Research Libraries Group Microform Master Survey: Report on the Survey Form Pretest to the Commission On Preservation And Access

Submitted by
Willis C. Meredith
Naomi Ronen
September 11, 1990

In the spring of 1989, the Commission on Preservation and Access contracted with the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) to pretest a survey form that will be used in a worldwide survey of companies, agencies and libraries that produce and store first generation master negatives. In the pretest process, draft survey forms were to be mailed to 7 publishers representing approximately 12 different companies, and site visits were to be made to 7 different production facilities. The information and suggestions gathered by this process were to be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the form and to determine if changes were needed.

The pretest is complete

The survey form was developed by the Preservation Committee of the Research Libraries Group and the Special Committee on the Preservation Needs of Law Libraries of the American Association of Law Libraries. In the first step of the pretest process, forms were sent out to four publishers who had agreed to participate. They were asked to fill out the form and add their comments, suggestions and criticisms. This information was used to redraft the form. The form was then sent out again to the original four participants and three additional companies, and site visits were scheduled to each company. The site visits allowed face to face discussions of the form with production personnel and first hand observation of the production processes. After the site visits were completed, the form was revised a final time. The form has been sent to the Research Libraries Group.

The purpose of the pretest was to improve the form, insure that it would gather the information needed and eliminate as many instances of ambiguous and poor wording as possible. Companies completed forms with the understanding that company-specific information would not be published as part of the pretest report. This condition facilitated the sharing of ideas and information. As it turned out, most of the companies involved felt that the information gathered did not reflect poorly on their companies. In any case, only summaries of responses are given. In addition, the sample was not selected randomly and the results of the pretest cannot be used to determine the percentage of microfilmers using any particular production method or standard. A goal of the full survey will be to gather the information needed to make this assessment.

It should also be stated at the outset that commercial micropublishers do not necessarily see themselves as being in the preservation business. They are in business to produce a quality product for sale. They also have a self interest in producing a quality master negative since the master negative is the principal asset of the company.

The pretest and the discussions with company personnel did demonstrate several facts about the survey process, and suggested topics that should be discussed in the context of national preservation efforts.

First, the results of the pretest suggest that there are many variations on a theme in the world of commercial micropublication. Practices on almost every aspect of production, storage and access can vary from company to company. The complexity of the applicable standards and the economics of publication and distribution almost guarantee that there will be permutations. The commercial publishers surveyed in the pretest stated that they are concerned with standards for production and storage, but that they also have to be concerned with the economics of production and sales.

This means that while a publisher may follow industry standards, the company probably does not follow preservation standards for the production and storage of master negatives. The purpose of the survey will be to determine the differences between industry and preservation standards, if any.

Second, we can only rely on the information gathered by the survey form to a certain extent. The survey form was only partially successful in pinpointing the areas of difference and providing a complete picture of company policy and production procedures. Information gathered by the form will paint a broad picture. A form of any reasonable length cannot, however, follow the step by step production process in the detail necessary to understand important differences. This was confirmed repeatedly by the site visits. Therefore, the results from the full survey will be indicative rather than definitive.

Third, compliance with standards can be dependent on the degree to which others in the chain comply: filmers are dependent on film and chemical manufacturers, publishers on storage firms, and librarians on filmers, for example. In other words the survey collects information from the libraries, publishers and other companies that produce microfilm. We did not visit storage facilities that are run as independent companies to see that the standards are being met or that measurements are being taken accurately. Another example is testing for residual thiosulfate done by independent laboratories. All of these are outside the scope of this survey, but should be concerns for the future.

Fourth, the information gathered in this pretest and in any future larger scale surveys should be considered the starting point for commercial publisher/preservation administrator/library community discussions on these and other issues. Scholarly micropublication should be a component in the effort to reformat brittle materials for preservation, but there are important concerns for libraries and for micropublishers that must be addressed. Most importantly, there is a need for better communication and understanding.

Many publishers are aware of the preservation efforts going on in this country and around the world. Some, in fact, are now offering contract preservation microfilming services. On the other hand, some publishers are not fully informed about the issues and concerns of the library community for the security of and access to master negatives. Two publishers stated that the survey form brought home to them for the first time the nature of the preservation problem and the national responsibility of the company for the security of master negatives. Another publisher was aware of the issues but could not afford to store master negatives under secure conditions. That publisher was very interested in discussions of possible central storage for master negatives.

Other publishers expressed concern about possible misunderstanding of their business practices. They stated that they produce a quality product that in their opinion meets standards in all important instances, and that they could insure this with less testing than is called for in the standards.

As we try to resolve important issues of standards for preservation microfilm and the relation of scholarly micropublication to preservation, we need to know what the differences are. The survey will provide a broad picture of what is done by all parties concerned. The pretest suggests that the full survey will find that there are similarities between the production of micro- film for scholarly publication and for preservation, but there are differences as well arising from differing needs and concerns. The publishers contacted are eager to talk about their business and work with the library community. If nothing else, the survey will raise the level of understanding on the part of publishers and of librarians alike of what the other is doing and why.

The original intent of this project was to pretest a form. During that process, however, we talked with corporate officers, production managers and plant personnel at seven companies. For us, this has been an educational experience as well, and many of the people we talked with felt the same. The process was also congenial. One early concern was that the survey might be seen as a library preservation versus commercial publisher enterprise. This was not so. Publishers were eager and proud rather than defensive about demonstrating their procedures and products. They were also very interested in a continuing dialog about preservation concerns.

We strongly suggest that an appropriate and pressing next step is to explore ways to continue and to expand the dialog and sharing of concerns started by the pretest.

The remainder of the report deals with specific recommendations for the survey process.

Collaborative Preservation Projects

NEH Support for Statewide Institutional Collaboration

Several of the grants announced recently by the National Endowment for the Humanities are supporting collaborative efforts to preserve the knowledge in deteriorating library and archival materials. All together, NEH’s Office of Preservation announced more than $7.2 million in new grants involving projects at 23 institutions located in 15 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The first grants in a new category that supports the development of comprehensive statewide preservation plans were awarded to the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, the Nebraska Library Commission, and the North Carolina Preservation Consortium.

Thirteen museums and libraries nationwide are participating in a collaborative project of the Research Libraries Group, Inc. NEH funding will support the microfilming of 2,000 volumes of late 19th-century and early 20th-century art periodicals important to research in the history of art and architecture.

The Southeastern Library Network. Inc., received a grant of over $1.25 million to microfilm over 18,000 brittle books and serials held by 12 institutions in six southeastern states.

Five projects receiving grants are part of the Endowment’s longstanding United States Newspaper Program, a coordinated effort to locate, preserve on microfilm, and catalog in a national database the 250,000 newspapers published in this country since 1690. Organized on a state by-state basis the program benefits from the cooperation of the Library of Congress and the Online Computer Library Center. Four grants enable continued participation in Iowa, Maryland, Missouri, and New York. The fifth grant will enable Oklahoma to begin participating.

Pennsylvania Consortium Develops Preservation Guide

The Oakland Library Consortium, composed of The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, the University of Pittsburgh Library System, and the Carnegie Mellon University Libraries, has published a basic introduction to preservation entitled Preserving Library Resources: A Guide for Staff. Prepared by the Consortium’s Standing Committee on Preservation, the booklet is geared for staff who may not otherwise receive training in preservation. Full and part-time staff in departments such as circulation, reference, periodicals and stack maintenance can benefit from the guide. according to the consortium. Copies can be purchased from the Oakland Library Consortium at Hunt Library, Room 302 Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh. PA 15213-3890. Quantity discounts are available.

Southwest Preservation Capacity Grows

AMIGOS Bibliographic Council, Inc., has begun developing a preservation service that will provide information, training, and consultation to libraries and archives in Arizona. Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, using a $160,000 grant from th National Endowment for the Humanities. AMIGOS’ new preservation service is expected to serve as a catalyst to subregional and state-based preservation planning initiatives in the southwest.

Newsletter Distribution Update

Beginning this month, this newsletter’s distribution changes slightly. Commission sponsors are receiving an advance copy of the newsletter. mailed first-class. All addresses on the current mailing list (including sponsors) are receiving one copy of the newsletter, mailed nonprofit rate.

You can help reduce the Commission’s mailing costs by notifying us of unwanted subscriptions and by sending address corrections and changes to Trish Cece, Communications Assistant. Please include your old address label with your request.

Preservation in the Media

As preservation continues to capture the attention of more segments of society, it has become the subject of a growing number of articles and videos produced by the business community. In many cases, these productions can be used to help inform others about preservation and access issues. For example, available at no (or low) cost are:

  • In The Electric Library (OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc.) Benjamin Franklin visits a library of today. He finds remarkable similarities and differences when he compares libraries from 1731 to the libraries of 1990. Electronic possibilities for preservation and access are considered. Contact Tom Clareson at OCLC (1-614-764-6000) to obtain a free copy.
  • In Providing a Future for the Past, University Microfilms International describes how books, newspapers, and archives printed on acid paper are prone to decay and offers a look at preservation microfilming as a cost-effective solution to a growing problem. Contact Tina Creuguer at UMI (1-800-521-0600, ext. 805) to obtain a free copy. Un Canada, 1-800-343-5299.)
  • In “On the Edge of the Digital Decade” (Fall 1990 Benchmark, a quarterly magazine for Xerox customers), a full-page sidebar “A Marriage of the Digital and Paper Worlds,” describes the newly instituted demonstration project sponsored jointly by the Commission, Xerox Corporation, and Cornell University (see August 1990 Commission newsletter). Contact Benchmark’s editor, at Xerox Corporation, 101 Continental Blvd., ESC1-502, El Segundo, CA 902454899 to obtain a copy.

We have this highly sophisticated maneuver where for $20 or whatever you can go out and buy this thing that looks like a tile. You open it up and see black on white. It makes no sound, but you have this weird communion with it. and the marks make a noise in the brain. And you stage in your mind s eye a whole psychodrama for hours and hours. Isn’t that weird?

Author Paul West, as quoted in The Washington Post s Book Review Section.

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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