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CPA Newsletter #56, May 1993

Commission on Preservation and Access

The Commission on Preservation and Access


May 1993

Number 56

From the Commission Board…
Preservation and the Library of the Future

Every so often, this newsletter will include some commentary from Commission Board members. In this first column, Chairman Billy E. Fry, Provost of Emory University, envisions a strong, relationship between the nationwide preservation program and the evolution of the library of the future.

These days just about everybody with any interest in libraries is writing or talking about the library of the future, or so it seems. The dream we all share is that through the power of computer and telecommunications technologies the libraries of the nation and the world will be linked with one another so that consumers may have access to any information located anywhere in any format quickly at reasonable cost. Inflation and the decay of brittle paper are eroding the capacity of our independent libraries to provide access to information while the added costs of new technologies and the explosive increase in published information are overwhelming them. one can only hope that the electronic “virtual library” becomes a reality sooner rather than later. It is no longer a question of whether this dream will become a reality, but how quickly and how cost effectively it will happen.

The idea is not a new one, of course. I’m told that digitization of word, sound and image has reached the point where design of the virtual library is in large part technically feasible today. The principal problems lie in such areas as economics, regulatory policy (copyright), ownership and authority, institutional organization and cooperation. As these problems are solved and agreements about goals, costs, responsibility, and authority are reached among a consortium of institutions with a commitment to the idea, the virtual library will rapidly begin to fall in place. Along with the institutional and economic issues, other limiting factors are the relative shortage of digitized books and journals, especially in the humanities in the near term, and, of major consequence, the fragility of the electronic formats, which must be managed in ways vet to be determined.

My point in commenting on this familiar scene is to suggest that there is potentially a very significant relationship between the nationwide preservation program, as it is evolving under the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the evolution of the virtual library. The preservation program is having to solve many of the same kinds of problems that will be encountered in making the virtual library a reality, including:

  • the development of uniform guidelines and protocols for creating and cataloging material in film and electronic formats;
  • agreement, in effect, to move from strict local autonomy to a significant degree of shared ownership or authority over these materials;
  • development of local, regional or national repositories with the capacity to store, retrieve, replicate and distribute any item at reasonable cost;
  • and, critically important, procurement of funding that gives individual institutions the capacity and incentive to participate in a cooperative program without undue adverse consequences to the local institution.

There are, of course, major barriers in the preservation program that also loom large in the prospect of the virtual library. These include developing appropriate economic and commercial structures and copyright law and overcoming cultural resistance to any change that threatens the traditional concept of the library. These and other residual problems notwithstanding, it seems to me that the preservation program is making important contributions to the evolution of the virtual library in two ways: first, it is giving us experience in working out some of these difficult organizational, policy and behavioral problems. It has already given us invaluable experience in going beyond talk of cooperation to actual cooperation with major shared benefits for all over the long run. Second, the preservation program — in progressively generating a major collection of microfilm masters — is addressing many of the management issues and questions about costs of reformatting that we will confront in the networked electronic library of the future.

This is undoubtedly a simplistic characterization of a problem that in its details is complex. However, it can be done. When it happens, the virtual library will be many steps closer to reality, and the significance of the various efforts in which so many of our institutions are involved will be amplified far beyond their original intent. It is my hope that beyond its intrinsic goal of preservation, the National Endowment’s preservation program will provide a major impetus toward shared collection development and management and access based on digital technology–the virtual library of the not too distant future.

Libraries will remain societies dedicated to the preservation of an ancient technology with the new. As for the signs and symbols reflecting the memory of a civilization and the preservation and dissemination of knowledge, the virtual book and the virtual library will only enhance these fundamental tasks.”

“The Futurecast,” quoted from the Library Journal, March 15, 1993

“…the codification of knowledge and the process of enhancing human learning will be the cornerstones of the next phase of human history. In the second industrial revolution, the wealth and power of nations will be based on nonmaterial resources, by the ability to create and facilitate knowledge. Seen in this light, the librarian is a natural leader for the age of knowledge that is now unfolding”

“The Futurecast,” quoted from the Library Journal, March 15, 1993

Culpeper Grant to Support Education, College Library, Communications Initiatives

The Charles E. Culpeper Foundation has announced a grant of 17,000 over a two-year period to the Commission to support the College Libraries Committee, a series of seminars for library school deans, and the communications and publications program. The grant will facilitate a number of interrelated initiatives.

The funding will enable the College Libraries Committee to continue its biannual meetings for two years and to conduct business between meetings. Its agenda will include exploring the potential for college libraries in the developing areas of digital preservation technology. The grant also will support the conduct of two 2 day seminars for library school deans to stimulate new and creative thinking in reconceptualizing preservation education for librarians for the 21st century. Finally, the award will help support the broad-based advocacy of the Commission’s communications program, including the production and distribution of this newsletter and other reports.

The Charles E. Culpeper Foundation is a private, non-profit, charitable foundation established under the will of the late Charles E. Culpeper, one of the early pioneers in the bottling and marketing of Coca-Cola. In recent years, the Foundation has disbursed approximately 6 million a year to activities in health, education, arts and culture, and the administration of justice.

German Task Group Releases Report on Paper Deterioration

A Federal-State Task Group, appointed by the Deutsches Bibliotheksinstitut has released a report based on the group’s study of paper deterioration. The group studied the causes, the extent of the problem, and effects and consequences of paper deterioration in libraries and archives, as well as in the administrative sector. The report (Federal-State Task Group Paper Deterioration Report) culminates with a section devoted to recommendations based on results of the study. For more information write to the Deutsches Bibliotheksinstitut, Bundesallee 184/185, 1000 Berlin 31, Germany.

Plans Advance for Management Training, New Technologies

At a March 12 meeting at Commission headquarters, the College Libraries Committee selected 22 applicants, including a recipient of a scholarship funded l y the Commission, to participate in the second Preservation Management for College Libraries Seminar. The committee also committed itself to fostering the future of the seminar by serving as advisors and advocating that it be offered in other locations throughout the U.S. The seminar was cooperatively developed by the committee and the Southeastern Library Network, Inc. (SOLINET), and first conducted by SOLINET in the summer of 1991.

Since the seminar is in the public domain, the committee agreed that other interested.d organizations should ht encouraged to sponsor the seminar, continuing its focus on the management concerns associated with part-time preservation administrators in college libraries.

Committee members also reviewed Project IBID’s proposal to the U.S. Office of Education Title IIC for partial support of a two-year demonstration to determine the feasibility of keeping needed out-of-print hooks available to college libraries and others by scanning them, storing them in digital format, and using high-speed equipment to print copies on demand. Since the proposal calls for the first scanning of 250 titles to begin in early 1994, the committee decided to begin title selections while the grant is being reviewed. It also requested that the Preservation Managers Council, which is cooperating in the project, begin its selection at this time. The proposal will be acted upon in october 1993. Project IBID has been supported with funds and in-kind contributed costs from Amherst College, the College of Charleston, SOLINET, and the Commission.

The committee accepted with regret the resignation of one of its founding members, Joel Clemmer, Library Director, Macalester College. The committee, which was convened in February 1989, is composed of library directors from institutions representative of the nation’s liberal arts colleges.

Current members are Willis E. Bridegam, Librarian, Amherst College; Barbara J. Brown, University Librarian, Washington & Lee University; David Cohen, Director of Libraries, College of Charleston; Caroline M. Coughlin, Library Director, Drew University; Michael Haeuser, Head Librarian, Gustavus Adolphus College; and Kathleen M. Spencer Chair), Library Director Franklin & Marshall College.

Digital Projects, Support for Preservation Emerge as Priorities

At its second meeting on March 19, the Preservation Managers Council identified the research and development projects of the digital preservation consortium as a primary Commission priority. The council, which represents managers of large institutional preservation programs, also identified heightened advocacy for broad-based support of preservation and access as another top priority.

The seven-member council saw a need for individual institutions to become more active in involving and informing scholars in preservation and access explorations They also proposed that institutions become more vigorous in garnering funds for preservation and access projects. It was agreed that a major role for the Commission is assistance as an advocate, educator and fundraiser among constituencies outside the institutional setting. A film sequel to Slow Fires that examines preservation and access questions raised by new technologies, now under consideration by the Commission board would be a major contribution this effort.

The group also agreed on the importance of continued institutional support for the National Endowment for the Humanities ( NEH ) brittle books microfilming program. The administrators discussed how to enhance the availability of the 500,000 preservation microfilms produced under this program so far and also explored the emerging and future responsibilities of preservation administrators in a changing environment.

The council was convened last year to provide a forum for the contributions of managers of large preservation programs to the Commission’s activities. The group is planning to become a communication link to scores of preservation administrators throughout the U.S. and Canada. Meetings are held in the spring and fall.

Council members are Margaret Byrnes Head, Preservation Section, National Library of Medicine; Ellen Cunningham-Kruppa, Preservation Officer, University of Texas, Austin; Richard Frieder, Head, Preservation Department Northwestern [University; Kenneth Harris, Director for Preservation, Library of Congress; Carolyn Clark Morrow, Malloy-Rabinowitz Preservation librarian, Harvard University; Barclay Ogden, Head, Conservation Department, [University of (California, Berkeley; and Christine Ward, Chief, Bureau of Archival Services, New York State Archives and Records Administration

ARL Publishes Preservation Resources Guide

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has published seven Preservation Planning Program resource guides, supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The guides offer libraries comprehensive, easy-to-use information relating to the major components of a preservation program. Titles are: Options for Replacing and Reformatting Deteriorated Materials; Collections Conservation; Commercial Library Binding; Collections Maintenance and Improvement; Disaster Preparedness; Staff Training and User Awareness in Preservation Management; and Organizing Preservation Activities. The guides are designed to provide normative information against which a Library measure its preservation efforts and enhance existing preservation activities or develop new ones. They are available, prepaid, for $15 each ($70 per set of 7). orders and payment should be sent to The Association of Research Libraries (ARL), Publications Dept., Dept . #O692, Washington, DC 2007-0692. For additional information contact Gloria Haws, ( 202 ) 296-86S6.

Provided as an insert to this newsletter is the eight-page report, The Preservation of Archival Materials, from the Task Forces on Archival Selection. The Commission supported the work of the task forces to identify and consider key issues related to the preservation of archival materials. Further support was provided by The Research Fellowship Program for the Study of Modern Archives at the Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan. Additional copies of the report are available for $5.00 from the Commission while supplies last.

A decision model for assigning preservation priorities developed by the task forces is being field tested by the Research Libraries Group (RLG), Inc., Mountain View. CA. After completion of the field test, the results will be made widely available by RLG.

Goldsmith Honored by NYU

New York University (NYU) has honored author Barbara Goldsmith for her ongoing lectures at the university and for establishing the Goldsmith Preservation Laboratory at NYU’s Elmer Bobst Library. She received the NYU Presidential Citation presented by university president, L. Jay Oliva. Goldsmith, a Commission board member, is a long-time advocate of book preservation and acid-free paper.

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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