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CPA Newsletter #35, Jun 1991

Commission on Preservation and Access

The Commission on Preservation and Access


June 1991

Number 35

Congressional Testimony Calls for Full-Level Support for NEH Preservation Program

Testimony of a research library director and a Pulitzer Prize-winning scholar before the House Appropriations Committee on April 18,1991, stressed the importance of sustained funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities to maintain the momentum of its 20-year brittle books program and other preservation activities. Betty Bengtson, library director at the University of Washington, Seattle, and Dr. James McPherson, Edwards Professor of American History, Princeton University, testified for the Association of Research Libraries, the National Humanities Alliance, and the Commission.

Speaking as one of many concerned stewards of unique national resources, Bengtson strongly advocated the continuation of full funding for the five-year preservation plan first introduced to the Congress in 1988. That plan, articulated by Endowment Chair Lynne Cheney, called for $17.7 million in the year 1992. The NEH request for FY92 proposed a modest increase of $200,000 over FY91, to $16.6 million, rather than the $1.1 million increase projected in the five-year plan.

Bengtson’s testimony urged restoration of the full $17.7 million, and also requested continued funding (for up to 10 percent of the microfilming budget) to offset expenses for the stabilization of illustrated materials and repair of damage incurred in microfilming. In addition, the testimony called for a supplement of $1.5 million to respond to the expanding momentum in the U.S. Newspaper Program and the efforts to preserve special collections of historical records, documents, and manuscripts.

Providing a scholar’s perspective was Dr. James McPherson, author of the book Battle Cry of Freedom, which won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1989. McPherson described his discovery of deteriorating materials while conducting research for his doctoral dissertation, which also became his first book:

“As I turned these precious but highly acidic pages, some of them tore and crumbled in my hands no matter how carefully and delicately I handled them. I was horrified by the experience of damaging, perhaps destroying the very sources that nurtured my knowledge…. Over the thirty years since that experience, things have changed and improved a good deal. Nearly all of the newspapers and many of the pamphlets I used then have subsequently been microfilmed…. This has been a great benefit not only to me but to many students whose graduate and undergraduate research I have directed.”

photo omitted

Betty Bengtson. Director of Libraries University of Washington Seattle. and Dr. James M. McPherson. Edwards Professor of American History. Princeton (University. show an embrittled book–Mortality Statistics 1935 (U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census)–to the Subcommittee on the Interior and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. House of Representatives, on April 18, 1991.

Cornell Digital Preservation Contract Extended 5 Months

The Commission has extended for six months its contract with Cornell University for a joint digital preservation demonstration project. As noted by the study’s principals, the project has made substantial progress over the past year, but the development, testing, and modification of the prototype equipment and software has occurred over a longer period than originally anticipated. The August 1990 and March 1991 newsletters include articles on this project, which is now scheduled to conclude in December 1991.

Mellon Grant to Support Mass Deacidification Round-Table

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a grant to the Northeast Document Conservation Center, a non-profit regional center specializing in preservation of paper based materials, to sponsor a round-table on mass deacidification. The two-day invitational planning meeting will be held September 12-13, 1991, at NEDCC’s headquarters in Andover, MA. Participation is limited to ten members of the Association of Research Libraries, which is cooperating in the event. The keynote speaker will be Richard DeGennaro, Roy E. Larsen Librarian of Harvard College and former Commission board member. Organizers of the meeting will publish the central papers and discussion as a book, edited by Dr. Peter G. Sparks, who is coordinating the program. Sparks is the author of the Commission report, Technical Considerations in Choosing Mass Deacidification Processes.

NCLIS Requests States to Use Alkaline Paper

The National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS) has requested all state governors and state librarians to inform them of their progress regarding the use of permanent paper. In March 1991, Charles E. Reid, Chairman of the U.S. NCLIS, sent a letter to all states urging them to use alkaline paper. NCLIS will assemble the information in a report to the President and Congress, which will describe the status of state-level implementation of the national policy on permanent paper (Public Law 101-423).

Library of Congress Preservation Office Publishes Mass Deacidification Bibliography

Bibliography on Mass Deacidification, a 32-page report by Carole Zimmermann, is now available from the Library of Congress Preservation Office. According to Zimmermann, the purpose of the report is to reach all audiences interested in the preservation of book and paper materials through mass deacidification. The bibliography provides a broad presentation of available literature, including materials from scientific, library science, and popular works.

Kenneth E. Harris, Director for Preservation and a member of the Commission’s National Advisory Council on Preservation, states in the foreword: Mass deacidification of paper was not too long ago only a wishful concept. Much to the advantage of libraries and archives, this budding technology continues to advance with a fresh infusion of ideas and resources. The hectic pace of progress over the past few years has justifiably translated into an increasing proliferation of literature. It is hoped that this bibliography, which we expect to update periodically, will serve to keep us informed about recent developments in the field.”

Bibliography on Mass Deacidification is available at no charge from the Preservation Office, Library of Congress, Madison Building, LM-G21, Washington, D.C. 20540.

Preservation Article Wins Award from Association Of Physical Plant Administrators

“The Library Environment and the Preservation of Library Materials,” by Carolyn L. Harris and Paul N. Banks, has been selected as the winner of the 1991 Rex Dillow Award for Outstanding Article by the Professional Affairs Committee of the Association of Physical Plant Administrators of Universities and Colleges (APPA). The award will be presented on July 23 at APPA’s Annual Meeting in Orlando, FL.

The article first appeared in the Fall 1990 issue of Facilities Manager and is now reprinted in Preservation of Library and Archival Materials, a compilation of presentations from the seminar on environmental conditions for housing of library and archival materials, held February 28-March 1, 1991, in Washington, DC. That seminar was sponsored jointly by APPA and the Commission. The compilation is available for $28.00 to APPA member institutions and for $35.00 to non-members (includes postage and shipping). Send check with order to APPA Publications, P.O. Box 753, Waldorf, MD 20604.

Yates Honored for Expanded Preservation Program

photo omitted

U.S. Representative Sidney Yates (right) accepts a resolution of thanks and commendation from Dr. Billy E. Frye, chairman of the Commission (left) during a meeting at the congressman’s office, April 18, 1991. Joining in the applause are Henriette Avram, Associate Librarian for Collections Services, Library of Congress, and Dr. James M. McPherson, Edwards Professor of American History, Princeton University. Avram is a member of the Commission board. McPherson is author of Battle Cry of Freedom, which won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1989. The Commission met with the Illinois congressman to express appreciation for his leadership and vision in establishing an expanded preservation program within the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Contributors to the framed resolution:

Hand -marbled paper- by Don Guyot. Colophon Book Arts, Olympia. WA.
Acid-, alum . and rosin-free paper-by Mohawk Paper Company, Cohoes. New York
Typesetting & design by Design Innovations-Ten Point Type, Washington, DC
Matting and framing by B. David’s Custom Framing, Washington, DC

Association of Research Libraries Introduces Preservation Program Models

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has announced the publication of Preservation Program Models, a report to assist research library directors in their efforts to shape programs that will produce significant advances in preserving North American research collections for current and future use. Preparation of this report was supported by the H.W. Wilson Foundation. It discusses “the ten components of a comprehensive preservation program to which library administrators must give attention,” and includes organizational models for preservation programs based on four size groupings of ARL libraries. Copies are available from the ARL Executive Office, 1527 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036, for $20 ($40 for non-ARL members).

College Libraries Committee Reviews Past Two Years Looks Ahead to New Agenda

The College Libraries Committee recently concluded its second year of operation and is preparing a report detailing its accomplishments. Since the committee has proven particularly valuable in incorporating college libraries into the national preservation agenda, the members agreed to continue to serve on the committee as currently constituted and to develop a proposed agenda for further action.

The committee’s education sub-group has selected 16 persons, including the winner of a Commission-sponsored scholarship, to attend the July 1991 Preservation Management Seminar cosponsored by the Commission and SOLINET, Inc. (see the January 1991 newsletter). Members were very satisfied with the number of applicants for this newly developed seminar and with the high level of individual qualifications and institutional support shown in the applications. The names of those selected will be made public after they confirm their attendance. The committee will conduct an evaluation of the event six months after its completion to measure its effects on institutional practice and is moving ahead with plans to hold a second seminar in 1992 in either New England or the Mid-Atlantic region.

The committee met at Commission headquarters in April; its next meeting will be on October 4,1991.

Stamp Collectors Encourage Preservation Action

The Arthur Salm Foundation is offering stamp collectors free copies of Collectors Club of Chicago, Report Number 1 (March 1991), a report on the acidic content of album pages. The foundation also is encouraging all album page manufacturers to offer acid-free pages to stamp collectors. The new report includes information on 64 different album pages and a glossary of technical terms. Initial tests found no difference in the acidic content between album pages and the same page with a plastic overlay. Loose-leaf pages bought from discount stores were also tested, since many collectors use these for storage.

To obtain the report, send a legal-sized, stamped, addressed envelope to the Arthur Salm Foundation, 1029 N. Dearborn Street, Chicago, IL 60610. Further reports are planned.

We confront the danger of historical amnesia. As the sources for understanding our national past deteriorate and vanish, we will gradually lose our sense of identity, our capacity to understand who and what we are, how we got that way, and why. We will be unable to grapple with the problems that confront us today and in the future in an intelligent way because we will not be able to analyze the origins and development of these problems.

Dr. James McPherson, From April 18. 1991. testimony in support oF NEH Funding.

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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