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CPA Newsletter #45, May 1992

Commission on Preservation and Access

The Commission on Preservation and Access


May 1992

Number 45

Joint Task Force Issues Final Report; Recommends Test Projects

The Joint Task Force on Text and Image, whose work is supported by the Getty Grant Program, has completed its final report, Preserving the Illustrated Text. The 32-page publication presents the challenges of text-cum-image preservation through both words and photographs of embrittled and deteriorated materials. The perspectives of researchers, faculty, and scholars from a variety of disciplines are combined with those of librarians and archivists in thoughtful discussions of image attributes (e.g., color, black-and-white. size. and adjacency of text and image), the distribution of images in texts, the uses and users of text-cum-image, conservation versus preservation, and alternative technologies for preservation of text and image. Among the conclusions:

  • An important beginning can be made on the preservation of books and periodicals in the 1850-1880 era in almost all disciplines that depend on images in texts. Current microfilm techniques. i.e., high-quality. high-contrast black-and-white filming. can be used for preserving most of the books in this era. since colored or halftone illustrations are uncommon, and the bulk of illustrations are line cuts or drawings.
  • The preservation of halftone illustrations in text. increasingly common after 1880. requires further exploration, including additional data about the distribution of images in texts and exploratory trials of alternative technologies for preservation.
  • The available information about the number and types of images in various kinds of publications in various epochs is insufficient and undependable for large ranges of time and materials.
  • Further information is needed about the effectiveness. costs and requirements of alternative technologies for preservation of post-1880 text-cum-image material. A serves of pilot projects that have been begun by the Commission should be continued and expanded to learn what time, effort. and special problems are involved in capturing text and image by scanning. continuous-tone black-and-white and color microfilming, and in converting among these media for archival storage.

Preserving the Illustrated Text (32 pages, April 1992) is being distributed to the Commission’s mailing list. Additional copies are available for $10.00. (Commission sponsors receive all publications on a complimentary basis.)

Testimony for Neh Preservation Programs Highlights Progress, Need for Full Funding

Testimony scheduled for April 9, 1992, on behalf of the fiscal year 1993 appropriations for the National Endowment for the Humanities highlighted the success of the Endowment’s preservation activities as evidenced by the growing numbers and high quality of materials resulting from project grants. The testimony also emphasized the need for full funding in 1993 and the development of a new five-year plan by NEH to be submitted with the fiscal year 1994 budget.

As in previous years. the testimony was cosponsored by the Association of Research Libraries. Commission on Preservation and Access, and National Humanities Alliance. Merrily Taylor, University Librarian. Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, provided the testimony before The Subcommittee on the Interior and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. House of Representatives, as “the representative of one of the thousands of academic and research libraries across this nation benefiting from the National Endowment for the Humanities’ program to preserve and provide access to deteriorated cultural and scholarly resources.”

Copies of the full written testimony are available from the Commission. Selected excerpts follow:

… The Division provides the nation’s libraries and archives with an absolutely vital mix of financial support, advice, and leadership that enables us to contribute to and participate in collaborative preservation and access programs. NEH’s well-designed program allows us to make the most of our limited financial and human resources by fostering cooperative, non-duplicative solutions to our most pressing preservation problems….

For the past three years, witnesses speaking on behalf of ARL. NEH, and the Commission have highlighted the devastating brittleness of the materials we are rescuing in our requests for support. This year, however, we will focus not on the horrendous condition of what needs saving. but instead on the growing numbers and the high quality of materials emerging from the program.

NEH recently reported that 450,000 volumes are either already filmed or undergoing filming as part of the Brittle Books program. Nearly half a million of the nation’s most valuable scholarly resources are being saved for future generations, and they are being saved on stable, high-quality microfilm that will allow for transfer to any type of developing electronic format

It is worth noting at this point that preservation and access remain intimately related. Since NEH and other federal funding permits not only the filming but the online cataloging of titles, the use of our collections has increased dramatically. Between 1990 and 1991, interlibrary loan photocopies generated by Brown’s Special Collections increased by 179 percent, from 2073 to 5778. Requests for materials doubled. Once scholars are aware that an item exists, and know where to find it, they need no special urging to use it! …

The crucial thing to remember in reviewing the impact of NEH’s preservation leadership upon our country’s scholarly resources is that the story told by Brown and Rhode Island is by no means unique or idiosyncratic. We are not one of the nation’s ten greatest library collections. we will never equal some of our ARL colleagues in terms of scope or depth across our entire holdings. We are, however, a fine academic library with a handful of collections that are national treasures and deserve to be preserved for use by the nation. In this time of rising materials costs and shrinking educational budgets, our university would simply not have the resources to do large scale preservation microfilming or conservation treatment on its own

The FY-93 proposal of $18 million for libraries and archives is $2.3 million below the fifth-year target. We are concerned that a continuing falling away from the carefully developed targets will (a) decrease the momentum of the program that has truly become a national effort to save these irreplaceable materials, and (b) threaten the overall goal of saving three million volumes…. Given the clear success of the first few years, we recommend, Mr. Chairman, that you request the NEH to develop a revised capability statement with funding targets for the second five-year cycle (i.e., FY-94 through FY-98).

End-User Products for Text-And-Image Preservation

A demonstration of the variety of end-user products available from black-and-white and color microfilm is underway at MAPS, The Micrographic Preservation Service, Inc. MAPS will work with brittle materials containing a mixture of text, black-and-white illustrations, foldout maps, and other variant combinations of text and image. The Commission Board approved a contract for the project earlier this year, acting on a recommendation of the Joint Task Force on Text and Image. The project and the work of the Joint Task Force are funded by the Getty Grant Program.

The contract specifies that MAPS will oversee the filming of 29 illustrated numbers of the New York State Museum Bulletin including color plates, and the creation of both silver print masters and CD-ROM discs with keyword searching. The New York State Museum worked with the librarians at Columbia University to compile a test sample of the Bulletin which the Task Force identified as an “excellent test case”

It is an old, valuable, heavily illustrated and currently much-used source of information on a variety of subjects. For example the issues on stone are widely consulted by architects. The inclusive dates for this study are 1887-1959, and the volumes are very brittle. Many of the maps cannot be unfolded without cracking.

The demonstration is expected to produce both black-and-white and color microfilm images and selected color plates in 105 mm film. MAPS will be subcontracting with Herrmann &, Kraemer, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, for the color microfilming. The color images will then be digitized to create enlarged reproductions using color printers. The contract also calls for a CD-ROM version, which will be used as part of a travelling exhibit for professional meetings to test the results with scholars and scientists.

Cooperative Preservation Activities: Update on Reports and Resources

Two reports that are proving useful for the planning and development of cooperative preservation programs remain available from the Commission. although supplies are limited.

A September 1991 report, Working Together–Case Studies in Cooperative Preservation by Condict Gaye Stevenson, provides a review of a variety of services and activities developed by cooperative preservation programs over the past two to three years. Information for the 36-page report was acquired through literature searches, telephone interviews at case study sites, and review of documents from the programs.

Included in the review are case studies of the: Office of Library Archival Materials Preservation, Connecticut; Los Angeles Preservation Network: Nebraska Documents Preservation Advisory Council: Preservation of Acetate-Based Audio Visual Materials. New York: Oklahoma Preservation Initiative: and Pittsburgh Regional Library Center Preservation Service. Conferences and meetings, service providers, and newly-organized cooperatives are referenced. The report includes a three-page selective bibliography.

Stevenson compiled the publication during a three-month internship with the Commission as she was completing her degree at the School of Library and Information Science at the Catholic University of America. The report is appearing as a chapter in Advances in Preservation and Access, volume I (Westport. CT: Meckler Corporation, 1992).

A second resource available from the Commission is a report on the National Conference on the Development of Statewide Preservation Programs held March 1-3, 1989. at the Library of Congress. The 107-page report was edited by Carolyn Clark Morrow, Harvard University’s Malloy-Rabinowitz Preservation Librarian, to be a practical tool for states interested in developing preservation plans.

The Commission previously has distributed both reports on a complimentary basis to those on its mailing list. Remaining copies may be ordered by sending a check ($5.00 for Working Together …. $15.00 for National Conference …) made payable to “Commission on Preservation and Access” to Trish Cece at the Commission. (Commission sponsors receive all publications on a complimentary basis.)

Planners of cooperative programs also may borrow exhibits from the Commission for display at conferences. seminars, and other public events.

Focus on Native American History Information–That, recognizing its special relationship to Native American peoples, the federal government immediately begin a comprehensive program to collect, preserve, and make available documents relating to Native American history, emphasizing equitable access, including electronic formats.

Resolution NIP08-4, The White House Conference on Library and Information Services, 1991

Board Approves Contracts for Digital Image Demonstrations

The Commission Board has approved contracts with the University of Tennessee and The Pennsylvania State University to explore the potential of digital image technology as a preservation and access medium. The contracts, recommended to the Board by the Technology Assessment Advisory Committee, are part of an ongoing collaborative effort by eight universities to develop the necessary practices and protocols for the interinstitutional transfer of preserved scholarly resources.

The Pennsylvania State contract is for a project that will examine the potential of digital image technology for archival collections. The library will collect cost and management data, explore the utilization of alternative combinations of storage technologies, and evaluate access and service improvements made possible by digital technology in conformance with communication protocols designed to provide interinstitutional transmission of digitized materials.

At the University of Tennessee, the library will inquire into the potential of digitized page images as a long-term preservation technique for both text and graphics, using scholarly materials relating to late 19th and early 20th century music, composition, and performance. Both contracts are pending, awaiting delivery of necessary equipment.

Other research and demonstration projects are underway at Cornell University, where 1,000 brittle mathematics books have been digitized and are available for printing on demand, and Yale University, which is looking at the infrastructure necessary to digitize an existing collection of preservation microfilms.

Medieval Academy Continues Preservation Initiatives

The Council of the Medieval Academy of America voted to continue its Committee on Library Preservation until 1995 during its annual meeting in March 1992. The committee functions as the Commission’s Scholarly Advisory Group on Medieval Studies. At its annual meeting, the Medieval Academy also sponsored a session on ‘ The Destruction and Preservation of the Medieval Heritage,” which included talks on conservation and preservation microfilming projects and a showing of the film, Slow Fires.

On display were the committee’s list of preservation projects in medieval studies; its recent report, Preserving Libraries for Medieval Studies–Working Papers from the Colloquium at the University of Notre Dame. March 25-26, 1990 (available for $10.00 from Sophia Jordan, 219 Hesburgh Library, University of Notre Dame, Notre, Dame, IN 46556); and real crumbling books on medieval topics.” Last month, the Medieval Academy borrowed the Commission’s modular panel exhibit for display at the International Congress of Medieval Art Meeting in Kalamazoo, Ml.

16 Preservation Projects Funded by Title II-C in 1991

A new list released by the Strengthening Research Library Resources Program, HEA Title II-C, U.S. Department of Education, provides information on 16 projects funded in 1991 that include preservation activities. This program awarded a total of $851.780 last year specifically for preservation. Some of the 16 projects include bibliographic control and!or collection development components. Projects with high levels of preservation activities are:

Preservation Microfilming of the Dwight W. Morrow Papers, Amherst College, Amherst, MA.

Preservation of a Heritage Collection: Identifying and Preserving the Core Literature of Entomology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

Archival Records in Audiovisual Media: Access and Preservation and Preservation of Russian Illustrated Books and Photographs of the Imperial and Early Soviet Periods. New York Public Library, New York. NY.

Preservation Microfilming of Arabic Materials, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ.

Preservation of the Russian Embassy Collections, Stanford University, Hoover Institution, Stanford, CA.

Federation of Southern Cooperatives and Emergency Land Fund Papers. Tulane University, New Orleans, LA.

Digitizing the Trust Territory Photograph Collection, University of Hawaii, Honolulu. HI.

Conservation and Preservation of Confederate Imprints, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, VA.

The complete list of preservation projects is available from Linda Loeb or Louise Sutherland, Program Staff. Library Programs, U.S. Department of Education, 555 New Jersey Avenue, NW, Room 404. Washington. DC 20208-5571.

The Occidental College library. which received no increase in its budget this year, worries about the number of books with pages grown brittle with age. About 25 per cent of its 500,000-volume collection is virtually useless….

… Yale University librarians estimate that about 80 per cent of their nine-million-volume collection is printed on acidic paper, which becomes brittle with age. Already about 3.5 million volumes–nearly 40 per cent of the collection–are no longer usable. “Given the fact that we’re considered one of the meccas of scholars, we have a special responsibility for preservation,” says Millicent D. Abell, university librarian.

The Chronicle of Higher Education. February 19, 1992. “Threat to Scholarly Resources: Rising Costs and Dwindling Budgets Force Libraries to Make Damaging Cuts in Collections and Services”

New Guidelines for Loan of Commission Exhibits

Information sheets describing the Commission’s exhibits available for loan and a new application form for obtaining the exhibits are available from Trish Cece at the Commission. The new procedures have been developed to meet the increasing number of requests for the exhibits. To date, the freestanding modular panel exhibit has been scheduled for display at five events during 1992 (University of Tennessee, the Medieval Academy, AMIGOS, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Pennsylvania State University), and the tabletop giant brittle book exhibit has been booked for four events (Washington University Medical Library. Lafayette College, Amherst College and the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation).

The exhibits may be borrowed for display at conferences, seminars. workshops, and other special events. Institutions also may use the exhibits for short-term display at their own location. Each exhibit is designed to be combined with locally-produced materials to create a customized presentation.

New procedures require the borrowing institution to complete an application form and to pay all shipping charges, plus a $100 fee. (The fee is waived for Commission sponsors.) In some cases, shipping charges can be shared with other institutions.

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


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