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CPA Newsletter #54, Mar 1993

Commission on Preservation and Access

The Commission on Preservation and Access


March 1993

Number 54

University of Iowa, University of Southern California, and Vassar College Bring Sponsor Total to 57

The University of Iowa, The University of Southern California, and Vassar College have joined the ranks of Commission sponsors, bringing the list of supporting institutions to 57. Sponsors include 21 public and 27 private educational institutions, as well as eight public, state, and federal libraries; and one higher education coalition. Continued growth in support of the Commission has helped to increase national and international response to preservation and access. All sponsors receive expedited mailings of publications, newsletters, and other information. The Commission’s two preservation and access exhibits are also available to sponsors at no charge.

Merged Preservation Database from Four Countries Distributed by CEC

At a January 1993 Peer Review Meeting called by the Commission of the European Communities (CEC), a test database of the European Register of Microform Masters (EROMM) containing successfully merged bibliographic records from England, France, Portugal, and Germany was presented to the partners. Among the products distributed at the Paris-based meeting were technical descriptions and a microfiche edition of the test database, as well as a magnetic tape containing more than 10,000 test records. The merging of the bibliographic records originating in several European countries is a technical “first.”

As reported in the July 1992 newsletter, the EROMM contract–co-funded by Directorate XIII of the CEC and the Commission on Preservation and Access–calls for making available in a common database bibliographic information about preservation microfilms. The pilot phase took records from the national libraries of the four countries named above and created a UNIMARC-based file, expected to be compatible with the minimum data requirements for an international register of microform masters being developed cooperatively by the several nations that attended a May 1990 Zurich meeting sponsored by the Commission on Preservation and Access.

At present, an extension of the contract is being sought to: 1) work out some remaining technical details before the full test database of some 50,000 records is created; 2) examine various options to create a firm administrative and financial base for Phase II and beyond; and 3) establish guidelines for the addition of other countries’ records to EROMM.

Four Members Join Commission Board

At the Commission board meeting held February 5, 1993, four persons were welcomed as members.

Ambassador Nicholas A. Veliotes, has served as President of the Association of American Publishers since 1986, and has spent over 30 years in foreign service, posted to such countries as Italy, India, Laos and Israel. He also served in such positions as Deputy Director of the Policy Planning Staff, Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of State, Deputy Assistant Secretary and Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, as well as Ambassador to Jordan and Egypt. He received his BA and MA from the University of California at Berkeley.

Winston Tabb, Associate Librarian for Collections Services at the Library of Congress, directs a staff of 1,500 employees and is responsible for the library’s acquisitions, processing of materials, and preservation as well as special research activities. Tabb has been with the Library of Congress since 1972, and has served there in many different positions since his arrival. He represents the Librarian on the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, the advisory committee to the White House Conference on Libraries and Information Services, and the Association of Research Libraries. He also serves as the library’s liaison to the Research Libraries Group (RLG) Shared Resources Committee and as secretary to the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Section on Interlending. He holds an MA in American Literature from Harvard University and an MLS from Simmons College.

Professor Klaus-Dieter Lehmann, General Director of Die Deutsche Bibliothek, is responsible for the design of new national bibliographic services, bibliographic utilities, questions of management, close cooperation with publishing companies and specialized information services. He currently serves on many German, European and international committees concerning library policy, including the UNESCO Intergovernmental Council of Federal Information Program, the German Commission for UNESCO, IFLA National Committee (Section on Information Technology), and the Commission of the European Communities. He holds an MS in Physics and Mathematics, and did his postgraduate work in library science in Frankfurt am Main. (Welcomed in absentia).

Betty G. Bengtson, Director of University Libraries at the University of Washington, served in a number of research library cataloging departments until she was named head of the cataloging department at Georgetown University Library in 1975. In 1982 she joined the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, as Associate Professor and Associate Director for Technical Services. In 1988 she served as Associate Director for Bibliographic Control and Access at the University of Washington until 1990 when she was appointed to her current position. She is currently active with a number of library and service committees and professional associations, and the author of many publications dealing with library science activities and services. In April 1991, on behalf of the National Humanities Alliance, the Association of Research Libraries, and the Commission, Bengtson testified in Congress in support of funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities brittle books program. She holds an MLS from Catholic University and a Masters of General Administration from the University of Maryland.


The Commission board has accepted with regret the resignation of one of its original members, Kenneth R.R. Gros Louis, Vice President, Indiana University and Chancellor – Bloomington Campus. Gros Louis noted that although he remains a strong supporter of the Commission, his schedule as an academic officer has made it difficult for him to attend board meetings.


A rare 17th-century book of poems and a $1.1 million remainder trust marked the occasion in honor of Dr. James F. Govan’s retirement after a 19-year tenure as university librarian at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH). One of the Commission’s original board members, Govan co-founded the Triangle Research Libraries Network in 1977 and garnered more that $5 million in private support for the library at UNC-CH. The university’s Chancellor, Paul Hardin stated, “The library’s collection has nearly doubled under Jim Govan’s guidance. His dedication to the library, the very heart of the university, is a major reason we are able to celebrate this special milestone.”

Preservation Symposium for Administrators to be Held in Southwest

A preservation symposium for administrators and legislators scheduled for April 29, 1993, is targeted to key decision makers and leaders who are instrumental in providing funding and support for preservation and conservation activities. A number of college and university provosts and presidents, state legislators and officials of libraries, archives, and government agencies in the Southwest have been invited to attend the symposium to be held at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas.

The event is co-sponsored by SMU, the Commission on Preservation and Access, AMIGOS Bibliographic Council, Inc., the Alliance for Higher Education, and the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies and Preservation/Conservation Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

Commission Chairman Billy E. Frye is scheduled as the keynote speaker addressing the importance of preserving information resources. Accompanying Dr. Frye will be both Commission exhibits; coordinated with the help of AMIGOS, they will be displayed to help emphasize the importance of preservation and access, and exemplify the cooperative nature among the members involved in the organization and execution of the symposium. For more information contact Maureen Pastine, Director, Central University Libraries, SMU, at (214)768-2400.


After completing its tour at SMU, the modular exhibit is scheduled to appear at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) in Long Branch, NJ, in early May 1993. MARAC obtained the exhibit through Commission sponsor Princeton University. For more information about borrowing either or both of the exhibits, contact Communications Assistant Sonny Koerner.

Pilot Survey to Help Develop Quality Assurance Criteria for Preservation Microfilm

A pilot survey of the technical quality of master negatives produced during the first years of the brittle books program of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Division of Preservation and Access, is being conducted under contract to the Commission by MSTC, Fairfax, VA. The survey is intended to help establish quality assurance criteria for preservation microfilm.

The technical success of the NEH brittle books program–a 20-year effort to reformat three million deteriorating items for preservation and access purposes–relies on the production of technically acceptable microfilms, distribution copies that are of adequate user quality, and storage of microfilms to minimize deterioration over time. The audit will address each of these requirements.

The preservation departments of the libraries at Ohio State, Yale, and Harvard Universities are contributing to the study by providing approximately 1% of the master and printing negatives they have filmed under the NEH brittle books program. Participating libraries are using the pilot project as an opportunity to assess some of their practices as well, including storage of master negatives and bibliographic control. MSTC, a independent firm that provides assessments of microfilm quality to government and corporate customers, was asked to develop an inspection procedure and methods for determining the quality of first- and third-generation microfilm. Data gathering and analysis will address image quality, with associated procedures and inspection for evidence of deterioration. An initial goal will be to establish bench marks for a continuing inspection/audit program.

A report to the Commission, which is expected to include budgetary cost information for continuing inspection/audit services and generalized initial findings, is due later this year.

Cornell Reports on Phase II Progress with Access to Digital Library of Preserved Materials

In a series of interim reports to the Commission, Cornell University is relating progress in advancing the role of digital technologies for library preservation and access. During Phase II of the Joint Study in Digital Preservation supported in part by the Commission, Cornell intends to test access over the Internet to the Cornell Digital Library and to determine the feasibility of digital-to-microfilm conversion.

More specifically, the components of Phase II include:

  • Provide browsing capability from any workstation to descriptive information about digital documents in the Cornell Digital Library, and facilitate requests for the delivery of printed copies.
  • Develop an image delivery system that translates images stored in the Cornell Digital Library for transmission to a variety of systems.
  • Deliver digital images to common workstations including Sun workstations, IBM PS2 computers, and Apple Macintoshes, and evaluate the quality of interface software and of the onscreen display.

Another key objective of Phase II is to establish the feasibility of digital-to-microfilm conversion. Cornell’s investigation is centering on determining whether digital files could be used to produce microfilm output that meets national technical specifications for preservation. These specifications cover a wide range of issues including the preparation of documents; composition of the film stock; quality of image capture as defined by reduction ratio, image placement, resolution and density; film processing; and storage.

The primary finding of a pilot demonstration of the conversion process, conducted with Image Graphics, Inc., Shelton, CT, is that microfilm meeting accepted national standards can be produced from 600 dpi scanned images for text printed at 4 point type and larger. Virtually all books published from 1800 to 1960–which covers the period of paper’s greatest brittleness–were printed in type sized ranging from 5 to 6 point and above. Cornell has concluded that 600 dpi scanning and the resulting film can serve as a viable means for capturing and preserving brittle books. Even though the technical feasibility has been demonstrated, some of the issues surrounding quality, processing, costs, and vendor services have yet to be resolved. An upcoming report during Phase II will address the promise of digital technology as a means for reformatting illustrated material.

During Phase I of the project, Cornell and Xerox Corporation captured the contents of nearly 1,000 brittle books as digital images as it developed the College Library Access and Storage System (CLASS) to meet preservation reformatting needs. CLASS was designed as a network compatible, distributed system intended to be as open as possible. (For background information, see Joint Study in Digital Preservation. Phase I (September 1992, 47 pages) available from the Commission for $10.00, prepayment required). A final report from Phase II is expected later this year.

ANSI Announces Revision to Standards

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) adopted a revision of the ANSI standard for permanent paper on October 26, 1992. This 1992 standard applies to papers used in unpublished documents as well as those in printed books, and increases the base of the previous edition by including provisions for both coated and uncoated paper. The revision effort involved a number of specially commissioned paper tests that were conducted by the American Institute of Paper Science and Technology. A grant from the Mellon Foundation helped to support the testing program which was also part of a broader effort to promote the use of permanent paper in biomedical literature.

The revised standard is officially entitled the American National Standard for Permanence of Paper for Publications and Documents in Libraries and Archives (ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992), and is scheduled for publication this month. For copies, contact Transaction Publishers, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08903.

1993 Update on NEH Brittle Books Program

The Commission now has available a 1993 updated version of the progress on the 20-year brittle books program managed by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The simple, two-page graphic uses a series of pie-charts to illustrate the progress of the program, which currently involves 65 participating institutions that are filming, or have filmed, approximately 530,000 volumes.

New Order Form Available

A revised version of the Commission’s publication order form is now available. The updated form includes order numbers that coordinate with stock and supply numbers. This process will help expedite order turnaround and efficiency. Those ordering or requesting publications are encouraged to include these numbers with all queries. A copy of the new form can be faxed or mailed upon request to Communications Assistant Sonny Koerner.

Photos and Graphics Needed for Mass Media Use

Over the last few years, the Commission has responded to a number of requests from the mass media for photos and graphics dealing with preservation and access. Organizations such as the Cable News Network (CNN) and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), as well as print publishers from around the world, are among those who have contacted the Commission for information and visual materials. Those able to donate or lend materials illustrating preservation and access activities and issues are asked to contact Communications Assistant Sonny Koerner.


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