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CPA Newsletter #51, Nov-Dec 1992

Commission on Preservation and Access

The Commission on Preservation and Access


November-December 1992

Number 51

Board Approves Contracts as Part of Digital Preservation Consortium Activities

Two contracts specifying the development of digital preservation demonstrations were approved by the Commission Board at its October 1992 meeting in Washington, DC. The contracts for preservation and access explorations at Yale University and the University of Southern California build on the activities of an evolving digital preservation consortium

The contract with Yale University, funded from the Commissions grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation details required steps for Phase II of Project Open Book, which seeks to convert 10,000 volumes from microfilm to a digital image library. After focusing in Phase I on organizational aspects including preparation of a budget and selection of a vendor partner, the second phase involves working with the selected vendor, the Xerox Corporation, to devise a production level conversion process while converting about 100 volumes from microfilm to digital images. The contract calls for initial planning activities for Phase II, which is estimated to take 1O months.

The contract with the University of Southern California (USC), supported with the Commission’s grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, represents a portion of a joint venture with Cornell University and the Eastman Kodak Corporation to explore the feasibility of the new Kodak photo-CD process for preservation of and access to deteriorating photographic collections. The contract specifies planning and integration activities at campus and inter-university levels. A systems integrator will plan the system by consulting with technical experts across the USC campus, including the cinema/TV school the signals processing and image recognition lab, the art school, and the history department, among others.

Planning will include consultation with faculty about system requirements, with copyright holders about managing rights in a networked environment, and with vendors–including Kodak–to develop a detailed proposal for funding the implementation of the project on a large scale. The project will proceed in cooperation with similar efforts at Cornell University, to ensure that the standards and objectives are reflective of more than local conditions alone. It is expected that some part of the testbed project will involve the exchange of digitized photographic images on the Internet.

Projects being undertaken by the digital preservation consortium seek to advance the use and utility of digital technology for preserving and improving access to intellectual works of national and international importance through cooperative action and a supportive multi-institutional infrastructure. In addition to Yale, USC, and Cornell, other consortium members are The University of Tennessee, Pennsylvania State University, Harvard University, Princeton University, and Stanford University.

The movement to preserve and disseminate books in electronic form is now so strong it can’t be stopped.

M. Stuart Lynn, quoted in The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 12, 1992.

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Announces Grant for Commission Program Support

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has provided $1.5 million to the Commission on Preservation and Access for use over a period of three and one-half years as program support. The Commission requested funding for those areas deemed most important by the Commission’s clientele as reported in the Review and Assessment Committee Report (September 1991). The grant will help maintain and expand activities in the areas of communications and publications, technology, scholarly involvement, and non-print materials. The Commission’s International Program is supported by another grant from the Mellon Foundation

The Mellon Foundation’s support of the Commission began with an initial grant in March 1988. The important flexibility in the use of those grant funds has been crucial to the Commission’s ability to catalyze action, stimulate cooperative efforts, and respond promptly to new technologies and other unforeseen opportunities characteristic of a volatile technical environment and the changing nature of the preservation challenge.

The Smithsonian Institution Libraries Become 51st Sponsor of Commission

The Smithsonian Institution Libraries has become the 51st sponsor of the Commission. The support of sponsors makes it possible for the Commission to continue existing activities as well as expand into new priority areas in the preservation and access agenda.

All 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

Commission Releases…

Paper From Technology Assessment Advisory Committee

A paper principally authored by TAAC member Michael Lesk entitled Preservation of New Technology is now available. This preliminary exploration into the preservation and archival implications of the newer nonprint media, particularly digital media, opens up many new issues for librarians, information center managers, preservation administrators and archivists.

The report deals with a broad spectrum of policy issues that arise from the short-lived nature of the media itself and the rapid obsolescence of the access technology. It stresses that frequent or regular copying or “refreshing” of the information, images and sound will be necessary to extend the life of the content. This poses not only technical issues, but the more difficult policy issues such as establishing responsibility for their continuing preservation, the new economic considerations, the need for standards and the need to reexamine copyright issues that are posed by this activity. Since an increasing amount of preservation of imperiled print material will itself result in digital formats, the issues involve not only current and future electronic production but future access to our current preservation efforts of print materials.

Preservation of New Technology (Report of the Technology Assessment Advisory Committee by Michael Lesk), October 1992, 17 pages, $5.00.

Results From Survey of Micropublishers

The final results of the Survey of Micropublishers are now available. Managed by the Research Libraries Group, Inc. under contract to the Commission, the survey investigated the practices and use of standards by the producers of first generation microfilm.

The purpose of the survey was to learn how precisely microfilm producers of all types produce and store microfilm. With this data, the preservation community can assess and evaluate the quality of reformatting efforts in both the academic and commercial worlds and can then design preservation strategies for the future.

Conducted in late 1991, the survey was mailed to 675 microfilm producers. Conclusions were reached through data analysis. The survey did not attempt to verify findings through examination of microfilm. Principal conclusions and recommendations are:

  1. The level of adherence to standards for microfilm produced for profit and that produced specifically for preservation purposes is about the same, but the general adherence to standards could be improved significantly by all types of micropublishers.
  2. It would be advisable for the preservation community to develop clear, unambiguous language to describe the purchase, transfer and assignment of rights of microfilms of each generation.
  3. Routine inspection programs for stored microfilm should also be immediately devised and implemented.

In light of these findings, RLG plans to review procedures for the inspection of stored microfilm and issue guidelines.

Survey of Micropublishers, by Erich Kesse, University of Florida, October 1992, 12 pages, $5.00. Also available Supplementary Material (including survey results and Appendix), October 1992, 78 pages, $10.00

For both publications, prepayment in U.S. funds is required, with checks made payable to “Commission on Preservation and Access,” and sent to: Rebecca Kelly, Communications Assistant, Commission on Preservation and Access, 1400 16th Street, NW, Suite 740, Washington, DC 20036-2217. Please refer to complete title when ordering. Commission sponsors receive all publications at no charge.

Annual Report Highlights Preservation Efforts Around the World

This year the focus of the Commission’s Annual Report is on the present and future efforts of preservation specialists around the world. The 1991-92 report features a special section titled “An International Perspective” written by consultant Hans Rütimann. Previous annual reports have highlighted the “users and keepers” of knowledge–the library, archival and scholarly communities, while this year’s report conveys developments in technology, leading toward the digital library framework of the future.

Education and training, archives, the Brittle Books program, and institutional initiatives are also covered. The 55-page report has been distributed to all on the mailing list. Additional copies are available tree of charge, while supplies last.

Media Alternatives from Preservation Microfilm

A demonstration project to create alternative media from preservation microfilm has been completed by MAPS The MicrogrAphic Preservation Service, Inc. The project originated when Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Geological observatory Library, in collaboration with the Geoscience Information Society of the Geological Society of America, sought to demonstrate to the scientific community the variety of end user media formats possible from preservation microfilm both black-and-white and color [See the article in the October 1992 newsletter, “Geologists Demonstrate Image Technology.”] The project is an outgrowth of the work of the Joint Task Force on Text and Image, supported by The Getty Grant Program. MAPS’ final report to the Commission includes the following findings.

Eighty-nine color prints and drawings were used to produce Cibachrome (now Ilfochrome) preservation quality color microfilm. For comparison black-and-white preservation quality microfilm also was produced. Viewing the full frame A-6 fiche in its entirety (approximately 4″ by 6″) still presents some challenges. Although there is at least one projection viewer manufactured in Europe, all U.A. fiche readers known to MAPS will project only portions of a full fiche. Overhead projectors will project the image onto a screen, but details tend to wash out; maps tend to suffer most from this defect.

Paper copies of the A-6 color fiche images made with color duplicators varied in quality. Efforts to produce reasonable quality on a lower end model were not successful. With a more advanced copier, colors are not particularly faithful and resolution is less than desired, but true color distinctions were made clear. “Some of the images approached true respectability while others simply indicated different color values within the image,” the report states. Paper copies from a photographic laboratory were better, “even rivalling the printed material itself.”

The images on a CD-ROM produced from 35mm black-and-white microfilm are “better than anticipated and should he useful….” Time constraints precluded filming the material in 35mm color, to scan and include on the disk. Compatibility of the disk’s access and search software with standard hardware and operating systems later proved to be a difficulty. The MAPS report concludes: “The most difficult part of this project lies ahead; seeing that the scientific community understands the options facing it as the printed resources supporting their academic efforts move inexorably toward useful pieces of paper dust … the use of film… does not preclude the conversion of that medium to any of a number of others, including CD-ROM….”

More information is available from: MAPS, Nine S. Commerce Way, Bethlehem, PA 18017.

Bibliotheque Nationale Progresses with Microfilm Master Conversion

The Biblioteque Nationale reports progress in converting to machine-readable form its entire retrospective register of microform masters. The conversion is a joint project conducted under contract to the Commission with funding from The Andre W. Mellon Foundation. The two-year contract awarded in March 1991 specifies that the BN’s converted records will he shared with U.S. bibliographic utilities for use by librarians and scholars in the U.S. and abroad. Most of the titles are nineteenth century French literature.

As of August 1992, well over 100,000 records had been either transcribed onto coding sheets, prepared on fiche or augmented if already in machine readable-form. Keyboarding of all 126,424 records was due to begin in mid-November, with editing and other tasks completed at the end of the contract term in March 1993. Microform masters are stored in Sable, while orders for duplicates will be processed by the BN in Paris.

SOLINET’S 2nd Preservation Management Seminar to be Held at Wellesley, July 22-30, 1993

SOLINET will hold its second preservation management seminar at Wellesley College in Massachusetts from July 22 through July 30, 1993. The first seminar, held in July 1991 at Washington and Lee University, received high evaluation scores from participants and their sponsoring institutions. The seminar is co-sponsored by SOLINET and the Commission. Attendance is limited and successful applicants will be selected by the College Libraries Committee of the Commission.

The seminar will enable academic libraries to implement effective, decentralized strategies for preserving their general collections. The 20 selected participants will acquire priorities, an action plan, and a timetable, as well as drafts of some critical documents tailored to their own libraries. Costs for tuition, room and hoard are $1,500. The Commission will award one scholarship to a qualified individual. To receive more information, a brochure and an application form, contact: Julie Arnott at SOLINET, 1438 West Peachtree Street, NW Suite 200, Atlanta, Georgia 30309-2955 or call (404) 892-0943, ext. 256 or 1-800-999-8558.

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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