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CPA Newsletter #53, Feb 1993

Commission on Preservation and Access

The Commission on Preservation and Access


February 1993

Number 53

1992 International Project Update on Microfilming Abroad

A newly-published activity report of the International Project, which draws and expands upon the Commission’s Annual Report, July 1, 1991 June 30, 1992 features a descriptive listing of microfilming projects in 30 countries. The update also discusses cooperative and national programs, new technologies, mass deacidification, and future priorities. The update on microfilming states:

The most prevalent reformatting remains with microfilm; small, medium, and large-scale projects are underway in many countries and the need for an informational infrastructure–bibliographic control–* overwhelming…. Progress is being made toward an internationally shared database capacity for bibliographic information about microform masters, nodes for the collection of such data are being developed, and arrangements are being made for the exchange of information among nodes.

Information about microfilming projects at the collection level includes descriptions and contact points from 30 national libraries that responded to a questionnaire. The results confirm varied conditions throughout the world. For example, the Helsinki University Library reported extensive microfilming not only of Finnish literature, but also of many special collections of Russian and Latvian newspapers. It is expected that during the next ten years, approximately one million pages of Russian newspapers will be filmed. Further information about microfilming projects abroad can be obtained from–and sent to–Hans Rütimann, International Project Director, 312 West 77th Street, #G, New York City, New York 10024.

The International Project 1992 Update is being mailed to the Commission’s mailing list. Additional copies are available while supplies last for 10.00, with prepayment by check required (made payable to Commission on Preservation and Access, U.S. funds only). Orders can be addressed to Sonny Koerner, Communications Assistant, Commission on Preservation and Access, 1400 16th Street, NW, Suite 740, Washington, DC 20036.

University of Miami, Mount Holyoke Join Commission Sponsors

The University of Miami (FL) and Mount Holyoke College (South Hadley, MA) have become sponsors of the Commission, bringing the list of supporting institutions to 54. Sponsors include 37 universities; eight colleges; eight public, state, and federal libraries; and one higher education coalition. This broad base of support is essential to the Commission in developing a responsive and flexible approach to nationwide and international preservation and access agendas. Sponsors receive expedited mailings of newsletters and publications, as well as complimentary additional copies upon request. They also are encouraged to borrow the Commission’s exhibits with no service charge.

Cornell, Stanford to Experiment with Sharing Electronic Scholarly Resources

Cornell and Stanford Universities have signed a memo of understanding to conduct a one-year project providing experience in the sharing of electronic scholarly resources using the existing national networking infrastructure. Both universities are members of the Commission’s Digital Preservation Consortium, which provides an opportunity to conduct the experiment within a larger framework.

Cornell is interested in providing to its users electronic access to a major bibliographic database (GEOREF) that Stanford already has made available on its campus. Cornell has obtained permission from the database producer, the American Geological Institute (AGI) to negotiate a method in which Cornell would act as a remote (additional) user of their material which is maintained on Stanford’s computers.

In exchange for the use of this resource, Cornell will offer Stanford the use of the CORNELL DIGITAL LIBRARY (CDL) and its associated client software. CDL was created as the result of a joint project between Xerox, the Commission and Cornell. The CDL currently consists of the full text bitmapped images of over 1,000 volumes of which 550 are selected mathematics titles with imprints earlier than 1920. The CDL includes not only the digital images of these volumes and their document structure, but also client software–still under development–to browse and view the material over the network.

Preservation of Dance Heritage Focus of Mellon Grant

The Dance Heritage Coalition has received a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to identify and develop collaborative methodologies and systems that preserve and make accessible the creative contributions of American dance. During the three year grant period, the Coalition will work in four areas:

  • Access–to create a national union catalog of dance documentation available to all on a single national bibliographic database.
  • Documentation–to develop a national documentation strategy for collecting and preserving dance, its choreography and performance.
  • Preservation–to articulate a systematic national program for the survival of dance documentation.
  • Education–to provide educational opportunities on various levels in connection with all its activities.

Among the initial projects will be a white paper on options for the preservation of video documentation. The coalition will seek additional funding to tackle cataloging arrearages at the New York Public Library, Harvard College Library, the San Francisco Performing Arts Library and Museum, and the Library of Congress. Finally, the coalition will pursue issues related to copyright and intellectual property, especially of video, in cooperation with interested volunteers from the American Bar Association.

The Core Administrative Committee of the coalition consists of representatives from the four institutions listed above. Margaret Child is meeting with the group as the Commission’s liaison.

The library profession is … a profession that is informed, illuminated, radiated, by a fierce and beautiful love of books. A love so overwhelming that it engulfs community after community and makes the culture of our time distinctive, individual, creative and truly of the spirit.

Frances Clarke Sayers

Improved Reproduction of Continuous Tone Materials Reported by MAPS

A process under development at the MicrogrAphic Preservation Service MAPS, Bethlehem, PA, using direct duplicating film rather than traditional camera film results in “greatly improved reproductions of continuous tone materials on microfilm,” according to MAPS personnel. The process involves using a Herrmann & Kraemer camera equipped with halogen lamps and Kodak 2470 direct duplicating film. The 2470 direct duplicating film, commonly used for production of print masters, is a silver gelatin on polyester base and meets criteria for preservation microfilming. The test film was judged “not ideal, but … very promising.” The 2470 film is better able to reproduce shades of gray than traditional camera film, and resolution was “excellent”–a 14.0 pattern was discernible at a reduction of 14X = 196 lines per millimeter.

Pilot Project Demonstrates CD-ROM, Fiche Products

The Geoscience Information Society of the Geological Society of America demonstrated color and black-and-white end-user formats possible from preservation microfilm during the Geological Society’s meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio, October 24-29, 1992. The demonstration featured (CD-ROM and microfiche products created from originals of the New York State Museum Bulletin, supplied by the New York State Library.

Geologists compared fiche, CD-ROM. and print end-products for legibility and usefulness to research. The demonstration discovered that it is difficult to locate viewing monitors powerful enough to produce suitable scanned images; it appears that access hardware is lagging behind capture capability. The following excerpts are from a report by Susan Klimley, Librarian, Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory.

“As geologists examined the materials, questions were posed: How important is preserving the color Is it better to save more of the literature in black and white? Or spend the premium price for color preservation?

  • Geologists for whom color was important oftentimes were unwilling to make a ‘decision.’ The cost differential was apparent to these people and although many felt color as very important, they saw the reality of the cost figures.
  • Many geologists suggested being very selective about which maps were preserved in color. Others suggested adding a pattern coding to replace the color coding on the maps.
  • … Many geologists expressed relief that librarians were working on the preservation problem and were surprised to find that there was funding for preservation efforts. Geologists were almost uniformly realistic about the amount of funding likely to be available for preservation and that choices will have to be made.

… Even though we tried to focus discussion on the question of color preservation, the other problems of the geologic literature were apparent …. The problem of printing the oversize maps was clear….


The color microfiche produced by Herrmann and Kraemer are a potentially successful preservation media for the geological literature. The color adequately represents the color coding present in the original maps. When a comparison between the original maps and the fiche was made, it was clear that there is a significant variation from the original colors. However this was not thought to be a problem … The resolution of the color and the black and white fiche was thought to be excellent…

Considerable time was invested in trying to find an appropriate viewer for the large frame fiche…. Trips were made to view microform readers for maps and newspapers that were supposed to accommodate full frame fiche, however none of these improved viewing enough to warrant recommendation….


The CD product was definitely a ‘beta’ product…. Simple black and white line drawings were quite clear. Photographs were difficult to identify without reference to the original (no grey scaling had been done, which explained the poor quality …). Color images were not scanned in color due to the high cost of quotes received. The black and white images of color maps were extremely difficult to read on the monitors. Color coding and considerable detail were lost…. The size of images posed a problem on the computer monitors we used. Single page images could not be seen on one monitor screen…

Print Products

The high quality of our text prints was unexpected. The poor quality of our screen images had been attributed to the monitor, the scanning level, and/or the fact that we were using publications with turn-of-the-century type faces. The evidence of the clear printed text suggests … that we were experiencing ‘monitor lag’ rather than having a problem with the scanning level or text.

Color photographic and photocopy prints were made from the color microfiche…. Resolution on page size images was very good. Both the photographic and photocopy versions were acceptable … There was no question that the resolution and color fidelity on the photographic copies were superior. Oversize images continue to be a problem.

The Future

The Geoscience Information Society intends to continue its exploration of preservation priorities with the Geological Society of America. It is expected that a resolution for a joint GIS/GSA Preservation Task Force will be presented to the GSA Council in the spring and that a meeting will he held at the annual meeting next fall.

Possible areas of exploration for the future include closer examination of the uneven scanning detected by one of the viewing geologists and scanning some of the NYSM Bulletin images at 600 dpi for comparison with the present project.”

This pilot project demonstration was an outgrowth of the work of the Joint Task Force on Text and Image. supported by The Getty Grant Program. The end-user products were developed b the MicrogrAphic Preservation Service MAPS under contract to the Commission. See the October 1992 and November-December 1992 newsletters for additional information.

U.S.-Based Training Concludes for Deutsche Bücherei Staff

Three staff from the Deutsche Bücherei have completed their 11-week internship program in the management of preservation microfilming operations with the MicrogrAphic Preservation Service MAPS, Bethlehem, PA, and have returned to Leipzig to help establish and manage a new large-scale preservation microfilming unit. MAPS personnel conducted the training in processing, duplication, special film treatments, and quality assurance under contract to the Commission; continuing assistance will be provided to the trainees over the next three months. The training program wa.s scheduled to coincide with the acquisition of the first preservation microfilming camera at the Deutsche Bücherei.

The contract was supported with funds from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. In Germany, it is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of collections are threatened and 12 to 16 percent are already brittle. In addition to microfilming projects, the German Research Council is financing work toward a national preservation strategy.


Advances in Preservation, Volume I – 1992, by Barbra Buckner Higginbotham and Mary E. Jackson. Westport, CT: Meckler Publishing. Due to delays in publication, some chapters do not reflect current status. Several essays review past Commission initiatives, in particular those by Battin, Stevenson, Rütimann, Marcum, Sparks, and Kenney and Personius. The editor notes in the introduction: As Patricia Battin says in her essay in this volume, “If the preservation challenge for the nineties could be characterized by one word, that word would be ‘choice.’ If one could suggest a second theme, perhaps it might be “change.” Choice and change: for a field that anticipates much of both during the coming years, a new annual seems very appropriate.

Mass Deacidification of Paper, A comparative study of existing processes, by Astrid-Christiane Brandt (translated by Peter Thomas). Paris: Bibliothque Nationale. In his foreword, Jean-Marie Arnoult, Technical Director of the Bibliotheque Nationale, writes: “This study is intended to bring together information which is relevant –both from a scientific and library economics viewpoint–and material which is of essential importance for library and archive curators faced with the problems of paper degradation. The study also shows that the shortcomings and imperfections of existing techniques are such that further research is essential to develop more satisfactory processes, so that paper deacidification may finally become a standard procedure. Available from Bibliotheque Nationale Technical Division, 58, Rue Richelieu 75084, Paris CEDEX 02 France.

Sonny Koerner New Communications Assistant

Sonny Koemer, a graduate of Bowie State University, has joined the Commission as the new Communications Assistant. A transfer student from the University of Alabama, Mr. Koerner was selected as a White House Intern after moving to the Washington area to complete his degree in Communication. While at the White House, he worked closely with the Points of Light Initiative, and aided in the initial meetings of the Commission on National and Community Service.

As the Communications Assistant, Mr. Koerner will be responsible for maintaining the Commission’s newsletter subscriptions and mailing lists, as well as handling publication inventory and requests. In addition, he will promote and coordinate the lending of the Commission’s two large exhibits (The Giant Brittle Book and the Modular Panel Exhibit), and the Slow Fires video. Sponsors of the Commission can contact Mr. Koerner for more information, or to request additional complimentary copies of publications and reports.

Inside: German View of Digital, Film Technologies

Included with this newsletter is the translation of an article on digital technology and microfilming for preservation and access written by Dr. Hartmut Weber, director and department head at the archives administration of the federal State of Baden-Württemberg. Dr. Weber supports the notion that “filming, coupled with modern information access systems, not only contributes to technical progress, but, more importantly to the preservation of the originals….”

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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