Close this search box.
Close this search box.

CPA Newsletter #49, Sep 1992

Commission on Preservation and Access

The Commission on Preservation and Access


September 1992

Number 49

Fifty Sponsors Pledge Support to Commission

Amherst College
Boston Public Library
Brown University
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Davis
Library of Congress, Los Angeles
University of California, San Diego
University of Chicago
Coalition for Networked Information
Columbia University
Cornell University
Emory University
University of Georgia
Grinnell College
Harvard University
University of Illinois at Urbana
Indiana University
Johns Hopkins University
University of Kansas
Lehigh University
Library of Congress
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Michigan State University
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
University of Minnesota
National Agricultural Library
National Library of Medicine
New York Public Library
New York State Library
New York State Archives and Records Administration
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Northwestern University
University of Pennsylvania
Princeton University
Reed College
Smith College
Stanford University
Syracuse University
University of Tennessee
University of Texas at Austin
Trinity College
The University of Tulsa
Washington University
University of Washington
Wellesley College
Wesleyan University
Williams College
University of Wisconsin-Madison
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Yale University

Fifty higher education organizations have made pledges to support the work of the Commission on Preservation and Access over the next three years. In announcing the sponsors as of September 1, 1992, Chairman Billy E. Frye stated:

The Board of the Commission on Preservation and Access is most grateful for the commitments from these 50 higher education institutions. Such sponsorship is absolutely essential if we are to continue to provide the types of programs and products that we have developed and made freely available to the higher education community over the past five years. We are all too aware of the difficult financial pressures falling institutions of higher education and the painful necessity to balance short-term local needs and long-term, cooperative objectives. We appreciate such willingness to commit scarce resources to our cooperative effort to transmit our intellectual heritage to those who follow us.

When founded in 1986, the Commission was sponsored by nine institutions; in the most recent three-year period, ending June 30, the number of sponsors rose to 34. Sponsors receive expedited mailings of Commission newsletters, reports, and publications, as well as additional complimentary copies of materials upon request. They also are entitled to use the Commission’s preservation exhibits with no service charge.

Chinese Version of Slow Fires Receives Grant

Slow Fires, the film/video documentary on the preservation of the human record produced in 1986 and funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Library of Congress, and the Council on Library Resources, has received a grant of up to $10,000 from the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia toward the production of a Chinese version. The Commission, which has been advocating the use of the film internationally, is seeking additional funds from both l J.. and Chinese sources for the translation and production effort.

Preservation Statistics for Research Libraries Confirm Growth in Spending, Activities

The 1990-91 Preservation Statistics recently issued by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) confirm the continuing growth in preservation expenditures, staffing, and activities on the part of the largest research libraries in the U.S. and Canada. Preservation expenditures for the 117 reporting ARL libraries were over 71 million in 1990-91. Increasingly, funds from external sources are augmenting institutional resources, and a significant portion of preservation budgets comes from grants.

The data also underscore the impact of the brittle books program.

The data offer persuasive evidence that preservation programs are becoming a standard unit in research libraries: 90 institutions indicate they have appointed a preservation administrator–S5 full-time and 35 part-time.

The data also underscore the impact of the brittle books program. During the past year, ARL libraries microfilmed approximately 123,233 volumes, an increase of more than 31,000 volumes over 1989-90 preservation microfilming production. The 1990-91 ARL Preservation Statistics is available from ARL, 1527 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036 for $20.00 to ARL members and $60.00 to non-members; prepaid required.

Mass Deacidification Study Available to Libraries, Archives, Historical Societies

A 175-page report on the organization, operation, and chemistry of mass deacidification activities has been released by the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), an academic consortium that fosters communication and collaboration among 12 major research universities. Mass Deacidification: A Report to the Library Directors was developed to help CIC library administrators position their units for action on mass deacidification. Although the report is not meant to suggest a course of action to institutions outside the CIC, it contains information that will be of interest to others considering mass deacidification needs. Copies of the report are available for $15 from: CIC, 302 East John Street, Suite 1705, Champaign, IL 61820.

CIC members are the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois, Indiana University, the University of Iowa, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, the University of Minnesota, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Preserving Information in Electronic Form

The National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) recently released a study entitled The Archives of the Future: Archival: Strategies for the Treatment of Electronic Databases. The NAPA study and ensuing report, which was prepared at the request of the National Archives, addresses the concerns of historians, archivists, and researchers about preserving government information that is created. maintained, and used in electronic form. The objectives of the study were to identify the major electronic databases in Federal agencies and to develop criteria to appraise databases to determine which ones to transfer to the National Archives for permanent retention. Among its 13 recommendations, NAPA urged the National Archives to take a strategic, active approach in pursuing electronic data from agencies; to place greater emphasis on developing guidelines and agreements with agencies to ensure provision of data in a usable form; and to develop a long-term strategy for accessibility of electronic databases that incorporate s providing networked access to the data and textual databases held by the National Archives. The report is available for $10.00 plus $3.00 shipping from National Academy of Public Administration, 1120 G St., Suite 850, Washington, DC 2000S.

… as we put certain key American collections into electronic formats, we are substituting technology for paper…. The Library of Congress already holds over 8 million items–newspapers, manuscripts, journals, documents–in microform…. In due course, microform7ns will surely give way to digital storage….

Address before the Information Industry Association, Washington, DC., May 1, Dr. James Billington, Librarian of Congress, LC Information Bulletin, June 15, 1992

Special Report
Research on the Use of Color Microfilm

Research projects sponsored by The Getty Grant Program on the suitability of color microfilm for preservation have submitted final reports after two years of investigation and experimentation (see January 1992 and May 1992 newsletters). The research is closely related to the work of the Joint Task Force on Text and Image, also sponsored by The Getty Grant Program, whose final report, Preserving the Illustrated Text, was published by the Commission in May 1992. The Commission contracted with the Image Permanence Institute (IPI) and MAPS The MicrogrAphic Preservation Service, Inc., to conduct research and demonstration projects to aid the field of art history in establishing a comprehensive approach to preservation. The substantive content of the final reports follows, since the Commission will not be distributing the complete reports. Information on specific aspects of the research is available from James Reilly, IPI, Rochester Institute of Technology, Frank E. Gannett Memorial Bldg., P.O. Box 9887, Rochester, NY 14623-0887 and Lee Jones, MAPS, Nine S. Commerce Way, Bethlehem, PA 18017.

IPI: Color Microfilm Dark Stability

Project Summary

The project “Permanence of Color Microforms for Library Preservation” was a two-year study to explore the comparative dye stabilities of chromogenic and silver dye bleach (SDB) microforms. In addition to dye fading, the physical properties of the gelatin emulsions and film supports were also studied. The permanence of color microforms is a concern in the library community because a large segment of embrittled library material cannot be adequately preserved by simple black-and-white microfilming. For any original book, map, art reproduction or manuscript in which color is an integral part of the information content, there must be a way to preserve the color component of the image.

Although manufacturers of both SDB and chromogenic film provide dye stability information for their products, this project is the first that integrates an examination of dye, gelatin and film support stabilities. For most of the measured properties it was possible to use a mathematical model known as the Arrhenius Relationship to predict the behavior of dyes, gelation emulsions and plastic supports under typical storage conditions.

Incubations were carried out at both 50% and 15% RH in order to determine the humidity sensitivity of the various microfilms. It is generally known that lower humidity will benefit the life of dyes, gelatin and plastic supports, but the degree of benefit is less know.

Materials tested in this project proved to be surprisingly stable. As a result, although the basic requirements of the project were met, data collection is expected to continue for several more years.

Key Project Result(s)

  1. Color microfilming is a viable preservation method. Even at room temperature, it is possible to preserve master color microform images as long as 100 years.
  2. Overall, at room temperature and moderate RH conditions, Cibachrome SDB films exhibit superior permanence to chromogenic microfilms.
  3. In the accelerated aging studies, films sealed in bags had a shorter life than films free-hung in the chambers. This is likely due to harmful degradation byproducts being trapped in the sealed bags and accelerating deterioration. Unfortunately, the bagged film tends to reflect more closely how film is stored in real life than open, free-hung film does.
  4. Insufficient data is available to make predictions regarding the dark stability of Cibachrome dyes. However, one could reasonably expect two to three centuries to pass before significant dye fading occurs under room temperature and moderate RH storage conditions.
  5. The dark stability of Cibachrome dyes is far superior to chromogenic dyes.
  6. While the polyester support of Cibachrome films may not be as stable as some other polyester bases, it is still at least as stable as triacetate.
  7. Predictions for the future physical properties of Cibachrome film emulsions. However, Cibachrome emulsions can be expected to remain in usable condition for at least 200 years at room temperature and moderate RH conditions.

Table 1

Table I shows the predicted or estimated time in years before each microfilm loses 30% of its most fugitive dye at room temperature and 50%, RH. Which of the three dyes (cyan, magenta, or yellow) is the least stable dye is indicated. The Cibachrome film did not reach the desired 30% dye loss, thus values for these films have been estimated and the least stable dye could not be predicted.

Dye predictions made at 24°C in accordance with ANSI IT9.9-1990
Summary of Dye Stability Properties
Film Type Time in years
for 30% Loss of
Least Stable Dye
Least Stable Dye
Cibachrome CMM 200 – 300 (estimated)
Cibachrome CMP 200 – 300 (estimated)
Eastman 5243 25 Cyan
Eastman 5272 25 Cyan
Eastman 5384 40 Yellow

Table 2

Table II contains predictions in years for the gelatin emulsion on each ot the films to reach a mushiness value of 50 grams if stored at room temperature and 50% RH (Mushiness is a measure of how much load must be applied to a 0.007 inch sapphire stylus to break though a wet gelatin emulsion.) Fifty grams does not necessarily represent the point at which the film is no longer useable; it is a very conservative minimum estimate of the useful life

Mushiness predictions made at 20°C
Summary of Emulsion Mushiness Properties
Film Type Years to Reach
50 Gram
Cibachrome CMM 100
Cibachrome CMP 100
Eastman 5243 500
Eastman 5272 500
Eastman 5384 800

Table 3

Table III lists the predicted number of years required for the tensile break stress of the plastic support to decrease by 33% when stored at room temperature and 50% tH (Tensile break stress is a measure of how much force is required to break a sample of plastic film base under controlled conditions.) Such a large physical property change is an indication of serious chemical breakdown of the plastic support; however, film which retains 66% of its original tensile break stress may still be usable in practice.

Break stress predictions made at 20°C
Summary of Break Stress Properties
Film Type Years to Reach a
66% Retention of
Break Stress
Cibachrome CMM 250
Cibachrome CMP 200
Eastman 5243 250
Eastman 5272 250
Eastman 5384 250

General Conclusions

  1. Under cold storage either chromogenic or SDB color materials can be kept for many centuries. Thus, with cold storage, either type of color microfilm can be considered “permanent”.
  2. With respect to the stability of image dyes, gelatin and film support, if storage conditions are likely to be at room temperature and moderate RH, there is little doubt that Cibachrome microfilm is a significantly better choice than chromogenic film. Collections using color microfilm will also have to weigh other factors before making their selection of film. With respect to sensitometry, Cibachrome film is slower and has higher contrast making it somewhat more difficult to work with. Local environmental laws may make processing Cibachrome film difficult. Finally, in the case of service and use copies of film, handling damage may nullify any longevity benefit gained by using Cibachrome. All of these problems can be dealt with in different ways and may not be problems at all.

MAPS: Color Microfilm and Continuous Tone Processing

The two parts of this contract had widely different results, but both contributed information to our understanding of the issues involved….

Continuous Tone Processing (CTP)

The contract was awarded just as MAPS was taking delivery on its first Herrmann & Kraemer 16/35mm computer controlled camera . . . while the frustrations of the continuous tone processing project, detailed below, were being experienced, startlingly good results were achieved using the Herrmann and Kraemer (H&K) camera and Kodak AHU camera film on continuous tone materials. The prospects are that these results can be further improved if either a CTP technology can be implemented or a special film for continuous tone material can be found. . .

The original intent was to purchase a license from H&K and to receive instruction in implementing the process in our processing laboratory. Just as negotiations were about to be concluded with H&K, that company received several very large contracts for other work . . . subsequent discussions with H&K led us to begin testing an alternate route to successful filming of continuous tone materials. It turns out that H&K uses its own CTP technology only in the most difficult cases, cases where the subject material has a very narrow tonal range and very low contrast. They have explored the use of duplicating films as original camera films. While MAPS’ efforts in this area have taken place outside of the current contract, the activity should be of interest to the Commission, the Getty Grant Program, and others interested in capture of black and white continuous tone material for preservation purposes.

Initial tests were frustrating indeed, since no images at all were captured using Kodak duplicating film in exposure ranges thought to be sufficient…. In order to expose duplicating film in a microfilm camera, 80 times more light must reach the film. This means that either one must increase exposure by 80 times, increase the intensity of light by 80 times, or, and more reasonably, provide the added exposure by a combination of more intense light and longer exposure times. These requirements mean that only cameras capable of adjustable exposure times and alternate light sources are capable of using duplicating film as a continuous tone filming medium. Testing is still at a very early stage, but already results are promising. There is a clear improvement in capture of continuous tone values using duplicating films as opposed to results using conventional AHU camera films. MAPS will continue testing this strategy and will be pleased to share its progress with those interested.

Thus, while making no progress on the originally proposed project, definite strides have been made in the development of a way to capture continuous tone materials with much improved fidelity on films that will qualify as preservation films.

Preservation Color Microfilming

The purpose of the preservation color microfilming project was to learn how to use Cibachrome (now Ilfochrome) in the Herrmann & Kraemer camera in order to offer a preservation quality color microfilm option to the preservation community….

Because there was no prospect of getting into a high volume color microfilm environment, all processing was done on contract with Microcolor International…. The first stage of testing involved understanding how to achieve good results on the grey scale technical target and simultaneously good color balance. Filter materials had to he acquired and tested in order to learn the effects of various filter packs on the resulting film images….

One of the more disappointing client tests involved material from an art and architecture collection. After several attempts to achieve faithful reproduction colors, it was agreed that the test was worthy of inspection by the owning library. Their evaluation was that what we perceived as consistent with the original material was, from their perspective, not 100% faithful….

Other color test projects included a newspaper’s color prints which, admittedly, are never very good. The client w as more satisfied since MAPS produced images that were perceived to be close approximations of the original colors.

It is our view that color microfilming for preservation purposes still has a future. However, that future for the art community may include marrying color microfilm with color digitizing equipment in order to allow the client to achieve the color balance that meets their requirements.

MAPS has not abandoned color microfilm for preservation purposes, but has scaled back its expectation of the role this format may play in preservation projects without some very sophisticated post processing technology.

It is expected that some communities will he less concerned with absolute color fidelity replication than they are with color distinction. Geographers and cartographers come to mind.

In preservation color microfilming, the fact that one is recording a copy of an image or artifact on an entirely different medium underscores the literal impossibility of capturing all of the color nuances of the original….

In one project, MAPS discovered (certainly not for the first time) that high quality black and white duplicates can he made from Cibachrome original film. In the process of doing so it was also noted that the thicker and softer emulsion created more opportunity to scratch the original being duplicated.

NEH Awards $18.7 Million in Preservation and Access Grants

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has announced 54 new grants totaling $18.7 million that will help libraries, museums, and other institutions across the country preserve endangered materials. The largest of the grants, $2.39 million, went to a collaborative effort to microfilm more than 28,000 brittle volumes from 15 libraries. The Southeastern Library Network (SOLINET), in conjunction with the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries, will coordinate the microfilming of more than 28,000 volumes on North American, Latin American, and African history and culture.

Also within the brittle books program, a grant of $194,000 will allow the New York State Historical Society to stabilize and increase public access to a unique collection of 20,000 American maps that document western expansion from the 1 7th century to the present.

The grants were made by the Endowment’s Division of Preservation and Access, which provides support to microfilm deteriorating publications, stabilize material culture collections, increase access to collections, and provide preservation training for staff.

Rebecca Kelly New Communications Assistant

Rebecca Kelly, a recent graduate of the University of Maryland, has been appointed to replace Patricia Cece as Communications Assistant. While at the University of Maryland, Ms. Kelly worked at the College of Library and Information Services and the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship in the College of Business and Management. Her work experience in the academic world includes communications and public relations. She has a degree in English and hopes to pursue a Master’s degree in the same area.

As Communications Assistant, Ms. Kelly is responsible for maintaining the Commission’s newsletter subscriptions and mailing lists. She also handles requests for publications and loans of exhibits and Slow Fires videos. Sponsors of the Commission can contact her to request additional complimentary copies of publications and reports.

LC Holds Conference on Preservation Research and Development

The Library of Congress’ Preservation Directorate is holding a small invitational conference on library preservation research and development late this month. Invited research and library managers will present papers describing their programs and will participate in round table discussions to identify common interests and clarify preservation research needs and priorities. The Directorate expects to publish the proceedings. The need for the conference evolved from a meeting of preservation and collection development officers and library administrators convened to foster the development of a national preservation program. The University of Chicago and the Association of Research Libraries jointly sponsored the meeting, which was held in Chicago.

… but for the growing concern generated in the seventies in the United States … the world-wide action to stimulate preservation awareness and restore it to its place in library administration might still be a matter for the future…. … The preservation movement has achieved an international momentum which must be maintained if the brittle book syndrome is not to blot out substantial periods of the world’s cultural history.

” Preservation A Bitter Harvest, by Frederick W Ratcliffe, Cambridge University Library, in Cadernos de Biblioteconomia, Arquivistica e Doumentacao, Lisbon, Portugal (2) 1991, pp 7-18.

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–President
Maxine K. Sitts–Program Officer, Editor


Did you enjoy this post? Please Share!


Related Posts

CPA Newsletter #104, Nov/Dec 1997

The Commission on Preservation and Access Newsletter November/December 1997 Number 104 CLIR to Survey Models of Digital Archiving ow can we ensure that digital documents

CPA Newsletter #103, Oct 1997

The Commission on Preservation and Access Newsletter October 1997 Number 103 Donald Waters to Head Digital Library Federation onald Waters has joined the staff of the

CPA Newsletter #102, Sep 1997

The Commission on Preservation and Access Newsletter September 1997 Number 102 Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Formed by Merger he Council on Library

Skip to content