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CPA Newsletter #34, May 1991

Commission on Preservation and Access

The Commission on Preservation and Access


May 1991

Number 34

David B. Gracy II Elected to Commission Board

David B. Gracy II, a preservation and archival educator, has been elected to the Commission board effective April 1991. Gracy currently is the Governor Bill Daniel Professor in Archival Enterprise at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS), University of Texas at Austin. He joined the GSLIS faculty in January 1986 after serving as Director of the Texas State Archives (1977-1986). Prior to the Texas appointment. Gracy was Assistant Professor and Archivist at the Georgia State University Library, where he established the Southern Labor Archives (1971-1977). He also has taught at Texas Tech University and in the Rare Books School of Columbia University. Gracy was appointed to the Commission’s Task Force on Preservation Education in 1989.

In 1987, Gracy was presented with the Texas Excellence in Teaching Award, one of a number of certificates and awards of merit he has received over the past 20 years. The new board member has served as President of the Society of American Archivists, the Society of Georgia Archivists, and the Austin Chapter of the Association of Records Managers and Administrators. His current board appointments include the National Archives of the Episcopal Church and the Summerlee Commission on Texas History, where he is chair of the Task Force on Archives. Among his publications is the article, “Between Muffins and Mercury … The Elusive Definition of ‘Preservation’,” The New Library Scene, 9 (December 1990).

Gracy earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees, both in History, from the University of Texas at Austin, and his Ph.D. in History from Texas Tech University. He received certification as an archivist from the Academy of Certified Archivists in 1989.

Bibliotheqe Nationale–Commission Contract to Hasten International Access to Preservation Microfilm Masters

At a meeting at the Bibliotheque Nationale (BN) on March 27, library officials concluded negotiations on a contract with the Commission to convert to machine-readable form the BN’s entire retrospective register of microform masters. The two-year contract calls for the library to convert 130,000 titles to machine-readable U.S.-compatible format. Payments totaling FF 2,682,000 (approximately $480,000). or two-thirds of the total project cost, will be made by the Commission over the two-year period as production goals are met. The BN is contributing the remaining one-third of the cost.

The joint agreement was developed as part of the International Project, headed by Hans Rütimann. This is the first project to be supported by the $1 million grant awarded last year to the Commission by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The French conversion effort was described as “a model for the kinds of projects that would be of immediate use to the international scholarly community” in the Commission’s proposal.

More than 140,000 monographs, mostly I ¡th-century French literature, have been filmed at the BN’s preservation facility in Sable. However, only about 8,000-10,000 items have been converted to machine-readable form. Early discussions among the BN, the Commission, and the Mellon Foundation indicated that these efforts could be speeded up with outside financial support; consequently, the international availability of BN’s register could be expedited.

The Mellon grant to the Commission, announced in February 1990, is to be used over a period of approximately three years toward costs of creating an international database of bibliographic records for preserved library materials and of facilitating cooperative preservation microfilming outside the U.S. linked to similar work in this country. The BN project is the first of a series of pilot activities to be sponsored in various countries.

In two years, we will have available a research tool which will be appreciated by French researchers. as well as by their American counterparts. I rejoice in this cooperation for the benefit of the international scholarly community to which we are very devoted.

General Administrator of BN, Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie

National Endowment for the Humanities Announces $3 Million for Preservation

Fourteen grants totaling more than $3 million for preservation projects in 11 states were announced in late March by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The awards allow institutions to preserve materials important to the study of history, literature, philosophy, and other humanities disciplines. Seven of the grants support microfilming of books, periodicals, and archival documents. Four of the funded projects are part of the Endowment’s U.S. Newspaper Program, a coordinated effort to locate, catalog, and preserve on microfilm the 250,000 newspapers published in the country since 1690. Two of the new grants will support statewide preservation plans, and the remaining award will fund the development of improved archival storage techniques.

The NEH budget for fiscal year 1991 for preservation programs is $22.6 million. Last month, the Commission–together with the Association of Research Libraries and the National Humanities Alliance–participated in joint testimony before the Subcommittee on the Interior and Related Agencies of the Committee on Appropriations in support of Congressional funding for the 1992 NEH preservation budget. Excerpts from that testimony will be included in the June 1991 Commission newsletter.

Further information on the new grants is available from the Office of Preservation, National Endowment for the Humanities, 1100 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20506.

International Project Tracking on Microfilming Projects

International Project Director Hans Rütimann has begun compiling a collection-level list of preservation microfilming projects abroad. The working list, which is by no means complete, now contains brief descriptions of filming activities and plans in 15 countries. Examples of entries include:

BRAZIL: National Plan for Microfilming Brazilian Periodicals More than 15.000 master negatives are made so far and a joint project with six Latin American national libraries is planned.
CHINA: Ancient Chinese books, mostly Chinese local history; Chinese genealogy materials; “South Manchurian Railway Company’ collections (The Library of Academia Sinica, Beijing).
2,000 titles of Chinese rare books: Qian Long, Qing Dynasty and Sung to Ming Dynasty, 960-1644 AD; doctoral dissertations (Peking University Library).

Chinese ancient materials (14 sub-centers of the Center of National Libraries Document Microforming).

A national program of microfilming all Hungarian newspapers began in 1969 (National Library). Between I and 1.5 million pages of newspapers are filmed annually. Hungarian newspapers from libraries in Slovakia and Yugoslavia have also been filmed under this program. Filming is now being extended to include journals and individual collections (manuscripts, theatrical materials, etc.).
Israel Judaica Archival Project:
Filming of the variant readings of the Babylonian Talmud; 40-volume Koosevski concordance; Eastern European Manuscript collections (i.e., the Saltykov-Schedrin Library in Leningrad permitted the filming of 17,000 Hebrew manuscripts and fragments).

Other countries in the draft list include: Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Poland. Spain, Taiwan, and Venezuela. Rütimann is obtaining additional information about projects in Algeria, Chile. Egypt, Syria, and Tunisia. He has asked that persons with information about additional projects contact him at the Commission.

Giant Brittle Book Exhibit Scheduled for Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri

The Giant Brittle Book exhibit is scheduled to travel to Dawson, Pennsylvania, where it is being shown at the Pittsburgh Regional Library Center Spring Conference from May 15 to May 17, 1991. In late August, the display moves to the Ohio State University Libraries preservation exhibit in Columbus, where it will remain until October 11. The American Theological Library Association will show the giant book at the American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature annual meeting, to be held in Kansas City, November 23-26.

The Giant Brittle Book is available free of charge, except for shipping charges. For more information contact Trish Cece. Communications Assistant, at the Commission.

Reader’s Digest Preservation Article Continues International Trek

We continue to receive reports of foreign language versions of “Our Printed Past in Peril,” a Readers Digest article by Robert Wernick that calls for action to save books made from acid-based paper. The article has appeared in the following editions: Portugal (August 1990), Brazil (date unknown), Far East (Hong Kong, February 1991), and Danish (August 1990). Earlier Commission newsletters reported on French, German, and British editions. Readers Digest plans to publish adapted versions of the article in most, if not all, of its 39 international editions, which are translated into 17 languages and read by 38 million people.

Congressman Sidney Yates Honored for Preservation Advocacy

Congressman Sidney Richard Yates, a major proponent of federal support for nationwide, coordinated preservation activities and a chief advocate for sustained funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities preservation program, was presented with a resolution of thanks and commendation by the Commission last month. The U.S. Representative from Illinois was cited for his “vision and leadership in ensuring the preservation of this nation’s cultural and intellectual heritage and in guaranteeing broad access to this heritage for all citizens.”

A limited number of copies of the resolution are available at no charge from Trish Cece, Communications Assistant at the Commission.

A Tribute to the Honorable Richard Yates
United States Representative from Illinois

A Resolution of Thanks and Commendation
for the
Establishment of an Expanded Preservation Program
Within the National Endowment for the Humanities

Whereas As a result of the acidic paper used for printing books and other materials of scholarly value since the mid-1800s, our nation has been confronted with a massive and steadily increasing problem of deteriorating historical documents;
Whereas As Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Interior and Related Agencies of the Committee on Appropriations, Congressman Yates has consistently advocated federal support for preservation of this endangered body of our nation’s scholarly and cultural heritage;
Whereas Congressman Yates has championed an expanded program within the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Office of Preservation to rescue millions of deteriorating historical and scholarly materials and to make them freely available to the American public
Whereas To accomplish this seemingly insurmountable task, Congressman Yates, joined by his esteemed Congressional colleagues, set the stage for action by asking the difficult, driving questions needed to stimulate planning, and persevered by continuing to exhibit his involved, personal interest as plans developed;
Whereas Congressman Yates confronted a problem of daunting scope for others, and provided the discernment and foresight necessary to address that problem through a workable program fostering literacy, learning, and equal access for all persons to our diverse national heritage;
Whereas Those who benefit from Mr. Yates’s involvement and interest are many:

  • the nation’s governmental and historical recordkeepers at federal, state, regional, and local levels;
  • the higher education community and all guardians of scholarly resources
  • future generations of scholars and students
  • the users of the hundreds of thousands of library collections that together constitute a major financial and educational asset of the United States; and ultimately
  • the entire American reading and viewing public


That the Commission on Preservation and Access hereby commends and thanks Congressman Sidney Richard Yates for his vision and leadership in ensuring the preservation for the nation’s cultural and intellectual heritage and in guaranteeing broad access to this heritage for all citizens

For several days after my first book was published I carried it about in my pocket, and took surreptitious peeps at it to make sure the ink had not faded

James M. Barrie

Update Statewide Preservation Programs Conference Report

Distribution of the report from the 1989 statewide preservation programs conference, announced in last month s Commission newsletter, has been delayed. We expect to receive shipment of the publication from Harvard University this month. We will promptly distribute complimentary copies as described in the April 1991 newsletter and fill any prepaid orders.

Our children and communities must be armed with the powerful tools of history, much still locked away in dusty archives, for that knowledge is the best source of hope and dreams. Our children can and must be active in their own salvation which is essential not only for their personal survival but for the survival of our cities, indeed our nation.

Please make sure that the information in archives reaches the children. Please don’t think they are too young! Their energy and creativity will astound and delight all of us.

Excerpt from testimony of Joan Maynard, Executive Director., Society for the Preservation. of Weeksville and Bedford Stuyvesant history, speaking on “Archives, Unique Research Resources and the Future of New York” at a public hearing on October 4, 1990 at New York’s City Hall; For the Record, The Newsletter of the New York State Archives and Records Administration and the New York State Historical Records Advisory Board, Vol. 9, No. 1, 1991

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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