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CPA Newsletter #33, Apr 1991

Commission on Preservation and Access

The Commission on Preservation and Access


April 1991

Number 33

Barbara Goldsmith Elected to Commission Board

Barbara Goldsmith, an author, journalist, and social historian who has championed preservation issues to the American public, has been elected to serve on the Commission board effective April 1991. As a trustee of the New York Public Library (NYPL), Goldsmith was a driving force behind NYPL’s Commitment Day, March 7, 1989, hailed as a landmark in book preservation. On that date, over 100 publishers and authors committed themselves to the use of acid-free paper for first printings of quality hardcover trade books.

It was more than 10 years ago when Goldsmith–researching in libraries for a novel she was writing –discovered the problem of brittle paper. She spearheaded a group called Authors and Publishers in Support of Preservation of the Printed Word and mobilized PEN (poets and playwrights, essayists and editors, and novelists), the Authors Guild, and the Association of American Publishers to declare their commitment to the use of acid-free paper. Her drive to bring the need for permanent paper to the attention of the public did not end with NYPL’s Commitment Day. She has since made many personal appearances and written several articles on the issue.

Goldsmith is a graduate of Wellesley College and has been awarded honorary doctorate degrees from Syracuse and Pace Universities. She also is a recipient of the Brandeis University Library Trust award. She was named a trustee of NYPL in 1987.

National Advisory Council on Preservation Gains New Member

John C. Vaughn has joined the National Advisory Council on Preservation (NACP) as the representative for the Association of American Universities, where he serves as Director of Federal Relations. The NACP, which meets annually, is composed of representatives from 22 library, academic, governmental, and scholarly organizations concerned with preservation and access issues.

Commission Launches Project on Scientific Research

The Commission is launching a project to further distribute news of scientific research with implications for preservation needs. The project is a follow-up to the Directory of Information Sources on Scientific Research Related to the Preservation of Books Paper. and Adhesives, which was published in March 1990. (Copies of the Directory remain available at no cost from the Commission.)

In consultation with scientists and researchers, the Commission is selecting reports potentially useful for preservation programs in libraries and archives. Copies of chosen reports will be distributed to a panel of preservation professionals representing various institutional perspectives. Panel members will read reports in the context of their institutions’ needs, and will prepare informal reviews on the implications and usefulness of the research.

As worthwhile reports are identified, the panel members and the Commission will distribute information on the findings to broader preservation communities. The effectiveness of this approach will be evaluated at the end of a one-year test period.

The panel members are: Margaret Byrnes, Head, Preservation Section, National Library of Medicine; Tom Clareson, Preservation Service Manager, AMIGOS Bibliographic Council; Richard Frieder, Preservation Officer, Northwestern University Library; Karen Garlick, Senior Conservator, National Archives and Records Administration; Kenneth Harris, Director for Preservation, Library of Congress; Howard P. Lowell, State Archivist and Records Administrator, Delaware State Archives; Jan Merrill-Oldham, Head, Preservation Department, University of Connecticut Library; and Christine W. Ward, Chief, Bureau of Archival Services, New York State Archives.

Scholarly Advisory Committees:
Progress on Selection Strategies

The Scholarly Advisory Committee on Art History, at its most recent meeting in February, began designing a systematic process for generating a significant bibliography of art periodicals and subjecting the list to scholarly review to identify the titles deemed most significant for art historical research. The Committee, at earlier meetings, had come to the opinion that the first priority art historical materials were probably to be found in art periodicals, various sorts of catalogs. and corpora. Periodicals seemed a practical way to begin, for it appeared likely that adequately long runs of major periodicals could fairly easily be located for the time period of publication that was most threatened by embrittlement.

The group considered a number of alternative approaches, including existing general bibliographies and reference lists, specialized field lists, and bibliographic utility-generated lists of periodicals. Further exploration of the feasibility of several alternatives will be required, but the general outlines of the next phase are clear and the committee is committed to the review task.

One portion of the discussion turned around critical distinctions surrounding the selection of scholarly resources for preservation microfilming. Many of the field s rare materials are not in immediate danger of embrittlement because of the high quality of the rag paper on which they were printed. Although conversion to microform of such non-endangered rare materials can increase scholarly access to them, the principal rationale for preservation microfilming is to save content in danger of being lost due to brittleness, with highest priority being given to scholarly importance. The very poor quality of paper on which some Third World publications have appeared, for example, in pre-historic archaeology–as well as their relative inaccessibility–makes them prime candidates for preservation microfilming.

Members of the Art History committee are: Nancy S. Allen. Librarian. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Elizabeth Boone, Director of Pre-Columbian Studies, Dumbarton Oaks; Professor Richard Brilliant. Department of Art History and Archaeology. Columbia University: Professor Marvin Eisenberg (Emeritus), Department of the History of Art, The University of Michigan: Professor Lorenz Eitner, Department of Art, Stanford University: Professor Larry Silver; Department of Art History. Northwestern University; and Professor Deirdre C. Stam, School of Library Information Science, Catholic University of America

The Scholarly Advisory Committee on Modern Language and Literature began drafting a final report to the Commission at its February meeting. The committee also is working to involve more widely the membership of the Modern Language Association (MLA) in the preservation of threatened research resources for literary scholarship. Arrangements have been concluded for holding a special gathering of the leaders of MLA Sections and Discussion Groups at its annual meeting in San Francisco next December. This gathering will be addressed by J. Hillis Miller. Chairman of the Scholarly Advisory Committee, and by Elaine Marks, one of its members who is also Second Vice President of MLA. The purpose of the session is to raise awareness of preservation issues on the part of MLA members and to obtain advice from the specialized subdivisions of the organization as to the location and identity of important scholarly materials that are prime candidates for preservation.

Serving on this committee are: Professor Emory Elliott, President’s Chair of English, University of California. Riverside: Professor John Fisher (Emeritus), Department of English. University of Tennessee, Knoxville: Professor H.L. Cates, Jr., Department of English, Duke University: Professor Elaine Marks, Department of French, University of Wisconsin Madison Professor. J. Hillis Miller, Department of English and Comparative Literature. University of California. Irvine: Professor W.J.T Mitchell, Department of English, University of Chicago; Professor Rainer Nagele, Department of German, The Johns Hopkins University; Professor Catharine R. Stimpson. Dean of the Graduate School-New Brunswick and Vice Provost for Graduate Education, Rutgers University Henry W, Riecken serves as Senior Program Advisor to the Commission for the Scholarly Advisory Committees.

To those with ears to hear libraries are really very noisy places. On their shelves we hear the captured voices of the centuries-old conversation that makes up our civilization, or any civilization. Here is the most convenient, most portable, and, in many ways, the most durable carrier of speech we have ever found: the book.

“Libraries and Learning,” by Timothy S. Healy; The Bookmark; page 200; Spring 1990,

Special Report

Joint Preservation Conference of Association of Physical Plant Administrators and the Commission on Preservation and Access

Attendance and Interest at High Levels

by Joel Clemmer, College Libraries Committee

Reflecting the growing concern over deteriorating contents of the nation’s paper-based collections, 101 librarians, physical plant personnel and architects met February 28-March 1 , 1990, in Washington, DC, to discuss preservation of library and archival materials. The two-day conference, jointly sponsored by the Association of Physical Plant Administrators (APPA) and the Commission, had as its goal fostering better working relationships among participant groups in order to improve environmental conditions of library and archives materials. The turnout was much higher than expected, with an almost equal number of facilities administrators and librarians in attendance, as well as several architects.

The conference keynote address by Dr. Billy E. Frye, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost of Emory University and chair of the Commission, provided convincing evidence of the magnitude of investment in the nation’s research libraries, each of which has an estimated replacement cost of $150-200 million dollars, as well as the threats to preservation of their contents. Donald G. Kelsey, Library Preservation Officer for the University of Minnesota, provided detail on the deterioration of paper and the effects of fluctuating temperature and relative humidity and pointed out that staff with specialized knowledge, such as custodians, can be immensely helpful in identifying problems if mechanisms are in place to get their input.

An entertaining and demonstrative role-playing exercise between Nancy Gwinn, librarian, and Michael Lee, Office of Plant Services for the Smithsonian Institution, clearly demonstrated the challenges of communication within organizations. Lawrence Steubing, Head of Engineering Services at the Smithsonian, introduced a case study outlining the challenge of renovating the “John Smith Library at Midwestern University.” The hypothetical library facility offered a challenging panoply of problems, including inadequate space and patchwork mechanicals. Participants had the evening to consider John Smith’s array of problems.

The final day of the conference led off with reviews of issues by Smithsonian experts: architectural power and HVAC (Lawrence Steubing); security (Robert Burke); fire suppression systems (J. Andrew Wilson); custodial maintenance (Charles Dunn); and maintaining the facility for a reliable environment (Howard Wink). Although the presentations successfully delivered an information base from which participants could deal with the challenges of the case study, they also served to reinforce a principal theme of the conference: that, in the words of Wink,

“Success comes when the facilities manager and customer [librarian] understand each other’s problems.”

Maureen Sullivan, conference facilitator, guided the group into a final exercise that again reinforced the need for cooperation among professions …

“The librarians in our group talked about what should be done; the engineers and physical plant people wanted to talk about how to do something.”

… as well as providing opportunity for a high degree of innovative thinking…

“Consider moving the college to a milder climate”

“Put everything in an addition and leave the old building as a monument to 1949 architecture.”

Sullivan closed the successful conference with a summary of a principal theme: that librarians and physical plant personnel work in the same institutions and thus share the same mission. Success for each depends on collaboration and communication.

Smithsonian participants were chaired by Michael League. The Commission’s planning team consisted of Joel Clemmer, DeWitt Wallace Library, Macalester College; Donald Kelsey, University of Minnesota Libraries, and Patti McClung, Research Libraries Group.

For more information on the conference …

The Association of Physical Plant Administrators of Universities and Colleges (APPA) is planning to issue a publication from this conference, which will include the text of Frye s address. For more details, contact: Steve Glazner. Director of Communications, APPA, 1446 Duke Street, Alexandria VA 22314-3492.

Excerpts from the conference keynote address
by Dr. Billy E. Frye. Vice President for Academic Affairs
and Provost of Emory University, and Chair of the Commission

” …The value of the collections of the 119 ARL [Association of Research Libraries] libraries alone, with over 350 million volumes is between $25-35 billion, a number that, just coincidentally, happens to be close to the pent-up cost of urgent deferred maintenance of the entire physical plants of the nation’s colleges and universities! Surely such an asset deserves to be treated with utmost respect.”

“Clearly, environmental control is one area where good physical plant management can have an enormous positive effect on preservation both by increasing the longevity of paper per se, and by giving us more time in which to deal with the problem and over which to spread the costs. There are limits on what can be done, of course, since people and books must occupy the same space. But knowledge of the role environmental conditions play surely can suggest options–such as the importance of maintaining constant conditions in the stacks, irrespective of academic schedules or outside conditions.”

A Library Director’s View of the Conference

The following Evaluation Form was volunteered by Thomas W. Leonhardt, Dean, University Libraries, University of Pacific, Stockton, CA.

     The Association of Physical Plant Administrators

               of Universities and Colleges

        1446 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314-3492

              703/684-1446, FAX: 703/549-2772



       February 28-March 1, 1991--Washington, D.C.

1. On a scale from one to four, one being excellent, was the information presented at the seminar valuable and useful?
2. What was the most beneficial information you received?
Without detracting from the rest of the program, I found the presentation on fire prevention to be the most helpful, especially when I got back to my library and discovered the awful truth about our own shortcomings and the lack of protection by building codes. As a library director I need to keep up to date with developments in fire safety and the other issues that the seminar so capably addressed.
3. Was anything omitted from the program that would have enhanced it?
I think that each aspect of the program could have been longer The speakers pointed out that their talks were pared down because of the time constraint. I would still vote for this overview type of seminar when time is a problem but would have appreciated more time for the fire protection segment and for overall maintenance including deferred maintenance, preventive maintenance, and maintenance planning when designing a new building. remodeling, or retrofitting a warehouse down in the industrial part of town. I see value in allowing more library case studies to be presented, perhaps prepared in advance and submitted so that the panelists/speakers/reactors could then discuss them I think that many academic libraries have unique aspects of the general problems that could use illumination.
4. If this seminar was held again, would you encourage others from your institution to attend?

The length of the seminar should be two full days.

Additional comments:
The University of the Pacific Library would be glad to host/sponsor such a seminar for the west coast. I think that d good audience from California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and a couple of others could be assembled easily. Co sponsorship by the Commission on Preservation and Access and other library organizations in the West could probably be arranged with no difficulty. I am quite serious about the offer

To me, an audience of library directors and directors of physical plants would be ideal. Even if we delegate a lot of the things we do. we need to be familiar with the broad issues and even some of the details. We don t need to be experts but we need to know which questions to ask and what kind of answers to expect. We must often choose options that are not ideal but then we need to know what the risk and possible consequences are.

5. In addition to developing programs such as the Preservation of Library and Archival Materials Seminar, would other information and materials be useful, and if so, please describe:
As I mentioned above, you could probably do seminars on given segments on the preservation seminar. I would suggest that even when doing the preservation seminar, it be made clear that this is preservation in its broadest and most useful context. That is how I received this seminar in Washington and found it most useful.

Change in Application Deadline for Preservation Management Seminar

The deadline for the Preservation Management Seminar co-sponsored by the Commission and SOLINET, the Southeastern Library Network, has been changed from March 15 to March 30, 1991. (A March 15 deadline was given in the March 1991 issue of the Commission’s newsletter.) The eight-day seminar for librarians with part-time preservation responsibility will be held July 20- 27, 1991, at Washington Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. The 16 applicants selected to attend will learn how to assess and prioritize their libraries needs, and how to implement a successful preservation effort that is appropriate to the goals of their collection. The cost for tuition, room and board is $1,200.

Faculty who will be teaching the seminar are: Lisa Fox, Program Development Officer for Preservation, SOLINET; Carolyn Clark Morrow, Malloy-Rabinowitz Preservation Librarian, Harvard University: Carol Eyler, Head of Technical Services, Mercer University; and Charlotte Brown, College Archivist & Special Collections Librarian, Franklin and Marshall College.

For further information and application instructions, contact the SOLINET Preservation Program, 400 Colony Square, Plaza Level. Atlanta. GA 30361- 6301, or call at 800-999-8558 or (404) 892-0943.

A Demonstration of Image Processing and Distribution

by Michael Lesk
Technology Assessment Advisory Committee

NOTE: The February 1991 Newsletter announced an interlibrary image distribution demonstration with implications for deteriorating scholarly materials scheduled for January 23, 1991. Technology Assessment Advisory Committee member Michael Lesk was on hand for that demonstration. and submitted this informal report to the Commission:

On January 23, 1991, I attended a demonstration at Columbia University of a Commission/GTE image storage and retrieval demonstration. The demonstration was run by Angela Giral of the Avery Library at Columbia, Clayton Andrews of Columbia, Bill Steele of GTE, and Jean Baroa of Avelem (a French company). The Avery Library views this primarily as a preservation activity, not as an improved access activity.

They have scanned 50 images and are storing them at the Library of Congress on hard disk, using 1.5 Mbit satellite link between LC and Columbia to transmit the images, and displaying them on a variety of devices. It appears the images were mostly digitized from 35mm slides, although some were digitized from fiche and some from paper. The typical stored file is perhaps 2000 x 2000 pixels, each 24-bit color. They are displayed on devices typically 1000 x 720 with 8 or 24-bit color.

In the demonstration, the librarian would search for pictures having various MARC field contents, and then display them on a screen. It was possible then to request either a local printout on a grey-level monochrome printer, or a remote print on a color printer followed by mailing. A dialup line is used to access the LC station; the satellite is only for transmitting the images.

The strong points of the demonstration are:

  1. A 3:1 compression of the images based on hierarchical coding plus Huffman coding, reducing the transmission time to about 2.5 seconds per image.
  2. The ability to use ordinary IBM PC type hardware for all system functions.
  3. The ability to use ordinary IBM PC type hardware for all system functions.
  4. The ability to adapt to quite a variety of input and output devices (I saw an Eikonix slide scanner, a Howtek color page scanner, an Alden low-cost thermal printer, and several color screen displays, including a wide-screen HDTV set).
  5. A typical MARC-based Boolean search system for catalog information on the images.
  6. A user interface that allows the user to specify the resolution of his terminal, and the area of the picture to be displayed, and using progressive transmission sends only the minimum number of bits needed to display what has been requested at the maximum screen resolution.

Weak points were:

  1. The satellite link was down the day of the demonstration.
  2. I am not sure the resolution is totally adequate for all serious use by art or architecture students (although anything is better than being told the item is unavailable because it’s too fragile).
  3. I am not confident the system can be scaled up. The kind of color scanning that was being done require a great deal of manual attention to get faithful color representation. I hope that the new Kodak color standards will help here.
  4. Some of the displays are pretty slow. [Ed. Note: As a result of this demonstration, a new program is being developed to speed the presentation of the display.]

Special Report Inside:

Viewpoints from three attendees of a joint preservation seminar for facilities managers and librarians/archivists–the first of its kind–are presented in a special insert to this newsletter. The seminar was cosponsored by the Association of Physical Plant Administrators and the Commission to foster better working relationships among participant groups in order to improve environmental conditions of library and archives material. Attendance figures and initial evaluations indicate the event was a success. An excerpt from the keynote address by Dr. Billy E. Frye, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost of Emory University, and Chair of the Commission, indicates the shared responsibility for preserving scholarly resources discussed at the event:

“Given the explosion in the volume and costs of published material . . . it is obvious that no institution working alone can build adequate collections any more than it can save the acidic collections it already has working alone. Rather, we ought to envision a time when the autonomous individual collections of our nation’s research libraries are melded into a large dispersed collection to which we all contribute and in which we all share equally, with appropriate allowances for our respective needs and investments; a time when our faculty and librarians will make choices between acquisitions and other expenditures not on the criterion of “volumes added” but on the basis of “units of access” provided…. … [E]ven if this distant vision comes into existence, it will not absolve us of individual responsibility for our libraries. Far from it, such an evolution would only underscore the responsibility that each institution has to build and protect its own library resources as an integral part of a larger entity. The library as a physical facility will remain a vital part of each academic community. Again, therefore, I admonish you never to underestimate the value of this asset, economically or intellectually, nor to underestimate the importance of your own role in preserving this asset and making it both a pleasant and profitable place where scholars and students engage their basic medium, the accumulated information, knowledge and wisdom of the ages.”

Report From 1989 Statewide Preservation Programs Conference Being Distributed

A report on the National Conference on the Development of Statewide Preservation Programs held March 13, 1989, at the Library of Congress is being distributed by the Commission free of charge to its sponsors, state library and archives agencies, and others on its mailing list. Like the conference itself, the report was a cooperative effort. Contributing to its publication were: Harvard University Library (design and production), the Library of Congress (photographs), and the Commission (costs of publication and distribution). The report was edited by Carolyn Clark Morrow, Harvard’s Malloy-Rabinowitz Preservation Librarian, to be a practical tool for states interested in developing preservation plans.

Copies of the report remaining after its complimentary distribution will be available, while supplies last, for $15.00 (U.S. funds required) from the Commission. Send checks made payable to Commission on Preservation and Access” to Trish Cece, Communications Assistant. The publication also will be submitted to ERIC, the Educational Resources Information Center.


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