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CPA Newsletter #69, Jul 1994

Commission on Preservation and Access

The Commission on Preservation and Access


July 1994

Number 69

New Report on Isoperms Helps Formulate Preservation Strategies

How much longer can I expect collections to be preserved if I follow conservation staff recommendations to improve temperature and relative humidity conditions? What are the preservation consequences of allowing wider swings in temperature and percent relative humidity, since tight environmental limits are expensive? Should we cycle between summer and winter storage conditions? If so, what risks and advantages are entailed?

These are some of the questions challenging preservation administrators that are brought into focus in the new Commission publication, Isoperms–An Environmental Management Tool, by Donald K. Sebera. This 20-page publication has been prepared specifically for decision-makers and preservation managers, focusing on how the isoperm method can be used as a quantitative tool to help make choices about environmental conditions in libraries and archives. Though the publication mainly addresses paper as a medium, the principles can be applied to other hygroscopic materials, as has already been done with film materials.

The report starts with a brief review of the chemical and physical factors associated with the deterioration of paper. It then combines the effects of changing temperature and relative humidity on the permanence of paper-based collections into an easily comprehensible form that Sebera terms isoperms. The isoperm representation and analysis provides a unique and useful means of quantifying environmental effects.

Isoperms–An Environmental Management Tool will be distributed to the Commission’s mailing list. Additional copies are available for no charge to sponsors, and for $10.00 to others (prepayment required, with check made payable to “Commission on Preservation and Access”).

Lynn Assumes Commission Presidency

Effective July 1, 1994, M. Stuart Lynn has assumed the presidency of the Commission upon the retirement of Patricia Battin. As announced in last month’s newsletter by Chairman Billy E. Frye, Lynn has been active in Commission initiatives on several fronts. He has served on the Commission’s Technology Assessment Advisory Committee (TAAC) since its founding in 1988 and has been an active member of the Commission’s Digital Preservation Consortium. Lynn most recently held the position of Vice President for Information Technologies at Cornell University, where he was responsible for policy, strategic planning, and coordination of information technologies across the university, including library systems, network services, and associated support services.

Lynn prepared the following statement for newsletter readers as he took office:

… I am excited by the opportunity to take on the presidency of the Commission. Pat Battin has done an outstanding job of establishing the Commission and its hallmark of quality and we all wish her well on her retirement. Her accomplishments have been legendary and have set the framework and tone for the Commission’s future.

Our agenda has been firmly established by Pat and the Board, and I intend to carry that agenda forward. This agenda was spelled out in the Working Paper on the Future issued in February 1994. In the immediate future, we will catalyze further explorations into the use of digital technologies for preserving and ensuring continued access to deteriorating research resources; promote an established science research agenda to address critical technical issues faced by libraries and archives responsible for large, culturally important collections; involve scholars in exploring technology issues as well as selection strategies for preservation and access; and nurture collaboration with international efforts to preserve and provide access to endangered scholarly materials.

The Commission will pursue the 18-month study, Vision 2010, in partnership with the University of Michigan School of Information and Library Studies. This joint effort funded by the Carnegie Corporation will involve individuals from a broad range of activities and professional experience including teaching, research, administration, scholarly communication, publishing, librarianship, and information technology fields to create a vision for how scholarly communication in the 21st-century will be reshaped by changing technological and other forces. As announced last month, a premise of the study is that active planning and a willingness to change are required for higher education to control its destiny in the digital world.

I will be seeking advice over the coming months from the Board and from Commission sponsors as to where the Commission can most usefully focus. I expect to discuss with you a number of possible new initiatives in support of the Commission’s goals.

Once again, it is a privilege to carry forward the Commission’s initiatives. I look forward to working with our varied constituents to achieve our common goal of ensuring continued access to recorded knowledge, whether stored on paper or electronic media, as far into the future as possible.

M. Stuart Lynn

Joint Development of Technology Demos Underway

As part of an expanded exhibit initiative funded by grants from the Gladys Krieble Delmas and H.W. Wilson Foundations, the Commission is collaborating with Johns Hopkins University and the Smithsonian Institution Libraries to develop demonstrations of preservation and access technologies. The demonstrations are being designed for use at scholarly meetings to illustrate various digital alternatives for access to text and image and to underscore the importance of preserving and maintaining the original worth of scholarly materials in the new digital environment.

The demonstrations will emphasize the importance of cooperation among scholars, libraries, archives, computer centers, and publishers in planning for and implementing new technologies. They also will provide concrete examples of tradeoffs regarding the costs and benefits of different preservation and access media.

Johns Hopkins is developing a demonstration illustrating the features of Project Muse, a joint venture of the Johns Hopkins University Press, The Milton S. Eisenhower Library, and Homewood Academic Computing to publish electronically the 42 journals of Hopkins Press. The demonstration will be made available on diskettes for both PC and Mac platforms. The purpose of Project Muse is to offer the press’ journals online as a way to lower production and distribution costs while increasing the value of the journals to the scholarly community. The exhibit materials will describe how the collaborative process evolved among the university’s library, computer center, and press and will illustrate preservation and access issues within an electronic environment.

The Smithsonian Institution Libraries (SIL) demonstration will showcase color and black-and-white images drawn from rare books and other special collections materials that reflect the subject interests of the Libraries’ 18-branch system. Broadly speaking these include natural history, anthropology, history of technology, decorative arts, and aviation history. The exhibit will provide examples of the types of decision-making required when images are digitized for preservation and access. Photo-CDs, transparencies, photographs, and other access media will be produced by Luna Imaging, Inc., Venice, CA., to highlight differing properties and capabilities for scholarship and research purposes.

With technical support from the Eastman Kodak Company, the Commission has provided demonstrations from the University of Southern California and Cornell University at previous scholars’ annual meetings. For more information, contact Program Officer Maxine Sitts.

From The Commission Board…
The Imperative of Preservation Education

By David B. Gracy II

The following are excerpts from a talk by Dr. David B. Gracy II, Associate Dean and Governor Bill Daniel Professor in Archival Enterprise at the University of Texas Graduate School of Library and Information Science and a member of the Commission’s Board. The talk was given at the Commission’s Library Deans’ Forum.

Important for us at this gathering at Belmont is the broad concept of preservation as the means of achieving the societal goals of planning for, providing, and maintaining access to that information which, experience has taught us, has value in the present and will have value in the future….

When the situation of a library, archives, or other information institution becomes tight, that is precisely when preservation is needed the most. A good course in preservation for each student in library and information science–whatever corner of the field the student intends to make the site of his or her life’s work–will demonstrate the simple truth that preservation is better stewardship because it coordinates all resources toward extending the life of information through actions….

That preservation is proactive, good stewardship (which gives administrators a powerful tool for shaping their holdings for the fast-approaching future) is precisely the point that brings us here. Put plainly, the Commission believes that a thorough comprehension of the issues, options, challenges, practices, and potential of preservation is central to the proper and full education of professionals in libraries, archives, indeed, all information domains, for managing the information world we are in, not to mention the one we inexorably are moving into.

The would-be professional needs to enter the field with knowledge both broad and deep, and with a credential from a recognized institution to demonstrate the possession of that knowledge. Preservation is not just for the preservationists any more. All graduates need a substantial understanding of both what preservation is and how it gives them an important context within which to make major decisions throughout their careers working at the interface between, on the one hand, the mass of information in its variety of media and, on the other, the potential user of it.

As schools develop courses focusing on emerging technologies, as we at Texas are doing this spring, attention to preservation issues becomes more, not less, important. Emerging technologies are ephemeral. Without attention to how society maintains access to the information in them, we stand to lose more information over time (and a short time) by virtue of using them than has been the case by the use of predecessor technologies. This is a serious, indeed, frightening, problem, as the recently disclosed loss of untold wealths of data from space missions, because tapes were poorly stored and then deteriorated beyond readability, shows as but one example.

Given this background of the progress to date of preservation education and of the increasing importance preservation considerations are playing in the administration of our libraries, archives, and other information agencies, and given the catalytic role that the Commission has played and continues to play in stimulating thinking about important issues in the preservation realm, it should come as no surprise that the Commission is interested in fostering exploration of the shape of the library and information science curriculum that will best provide professionals equipped to deal with the media, technology, format, and data exchange and transfer challenges already breaking on our horizon.

Our actions in the preservation realm now are too much reactive. But when every student realizes that practicing preservation, broadly defined as maintaining access to information in its myriad of formats, is inherently the work of the library and information science professional, we will have moved significantly into a proactive posture and thus will be in the best position to achieve that goal of providing that challenging access.

David B. Gracy II

Library Deans’ Forum Considers Education Needs for 21st-Century

An April 1993 grant from the Charles E. Culpeper Foundation to the Commission is supporting an exploration of changing educational needs for librarians as digital technologies are increasingly used for both the preservation of deteriorating paper documents and the creation of new knowledge. The grant provided funds for a two-and-a-half day seminar held at Belmont Conference Center, Elkridge, MD., on January 18-20, 1994.

The seminar focused on the changed environment, the need for a critical reassessment of professional education and prospects for librarianship in the 21st-century. Eight individuals who have been working with the Commission were invited to share their professional experiences with the deans, to comment on how their responsibilities have changed since their educational preparation, and to speculate on the educational requirements for the librarian and archivist of 2010.

David B. Gracy II, Associate Dean and Governor Bill Daniel Professor in Archival Enterprise at the University of Texas Graduate School of Library and Information Science and a member of the Commission’s Board, posed a challenge for the conferees: The profession needs to think deeply and profoundly about a future in which the explosion of information media and systems of distribution will demand radically new strategies for preserving the human record. Excerpts from his presentation can be found in the accompanying Board editorial, The Imperative of Preservation Education.

Other speakers were Carolyn Morrow, Malloy-Rabinowitz Preservation Librarian at Harvard University Library; Deanna Marcum, Director of Public Service and Collections Management I at the Library of Congress; Donald Waters, Associate University Librarian at Yale University; Maxine Sitts, Program Officer, Commission on Preservation and Access; Don Willis, Vice President of Electronic Product Development, UMI; Stuart Lynn, Vice President for Information Technologies at Cornell University; and Kenneth Kay, Executive Director of the Computer Systems Policy Project. Invitees were:

Daniel Atkins, Dean
School of Information & Library Studies
University of Michigan

Toni Carbo Bearman, Dean and
School of Library & Information Science
University of Pittsburgh

Richard W. Budd, Dean
School of Communication, Info & Library Studies
Rutgers University

Charles D. Churchwell, Dean
School of Library & Information Studies
Clark Atlanta University

Blaise Cronin, Dean
School of Library & Information Science
Indiana University

Leigh Estabrook, Dean
Grad School of Library & Information Science
University of Illinois

Jose-Marie Griffiths, Dean
Grad School of Library & Information Science
The University of Tennessee

Richard H. Lytle, Dean
College of Information Studies
Drexel University

Barbara B. Moran, Dean
School of Information & Library Science
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Ann E. Prentice, Dean
College of Library & Information Services
University of Maryland

Jane B. Robbins, Director
School of Library & Information Studies
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Fred W. Roper, Dean
College of Library & Information Science
University of South Carolina

Brooke E. Sheldon, Dean
Graduate School of Library & Information Science
University of Texas at Austin

F. William Summers, Dean
School of Library & Information Studies
Florida State University

The remaining portion of the Culpeper Foundation’s grant will be used for a cooperative venture between the Commission and the University of Michigan School of Information and Library Studies (SILS), which recently received a grant from the Kellogg Foundation to support a five year program to restructure the professional ILS program. SILS will be inviting participation by other ILS schools during the coming year. To register to receive more information on this emerging project please send a request by email to Professor Karen Drabenstott at

Permanent Paper Policy Document Available

The Library of Congress has made available over the Internet the Second Report to Congress on the Joint Resolution to Establish a National Policy on Permanent Papers, from the National Archives, the Government Printing Office, and the Library of Congress. This is the second of the three reports to Congress required by Public Law 101-423 (Permanent Paper). It summarizes actions and events during 1992 and 1993 that have supported and assisted implementation of the law, and also discusses actions and events that have the potential for hampering the rate at which implementation moves forward.

The law was passed by Congress and signed by the President in October 1990, and states in Section 1 that “It is the policy of the United States that Federal records, books, and publications of enduring value be produced on acid free permanent papers.”

Working toward the goal of establishing a government-wide alkaline paper standard, NARA developed during 1993 a bulletin (in the final stages of release) to the heads of Federal agencies. The bulletin will advise agency heads of the permanent paper policy established by Public Law 101-423, will suggest initial steps agencies should take to implement that policy, and will advise agencies to use alkaline paper for all Federal records. The completed bulletin is scheduled for dissemination to agency heads in mid-1994 and is to be accompanied by guidance for procuring alkaline papers for Federal records.

The report identifies the following issues for future consideration:

  • The possible difficulty in monitoring the Federal Government’s progress in increasing the use of permanent paper if Government printing is decentralized.
  • The anticipated difficulty of acquiring off-the-shelf papers that are alkaline if they also contain higher levels of post-consumer waste paper.
  • The composition of “permanent” papers. How much lignin can be present in paper without compromising permanence?

Second Report to Congress on the Joint Resolution to Establish a National Policy on Permanent Papers, December 31, 1993 is available on LC Marvel (gopher to, port 70). The document is also available in Conservation OnLine (CoOL) in database cool-cfl.

Survey Results Identify 387 Permanent Papers

Abbey Publications has surveyed nearly 60 paper mills in the U.S. and Canada in order to gauge how many printing and writing papers on the market qualify as permanent under the newly revised American National Standard for permanent paper (ANSI/NISO /Z39.48-1992). The survey reports a total of 387 papers that meet the ANSI standard, 69% of which contain either recycled or post-consumer fiber, supporting the idea that paper can be both recycled and permanent.

The 51-page booklet, North American Permanent Paper, lists each paper by type or use, company and name of paper. The publication also includes a copy of the questionnaire and background chapter on the nature of permanence, history of paper permanence research, recycled paper, standards, testing for permanence, the national policy on permanent papers, and state and local action on acid-free papers.

The booklet is available for $7.00 (plus $3.00 for overseas postage) from Abbey Publications, 7105 Geneva Drive, Austin, TX 78723.

Preservation Science Council Releases Final Two Projects

The Commission has made available preliminary descriptions of the final two of six projects developed in 1993. These descriptions deal with longevity tests for PVAs used in double-fan adhesive binding and the effect of moisture in collections under fluctuating RH and temperature.

As with the first four projects, the Commission is seeking support and involvement of interested parties in funding and conducting the needed research. To date, one of the six projects is funded and underway, and three others are being developed collaboratively.

Copies of the final two projects have been mailed to key contacts. Others interested in receiving copies can mail a request and a self-addressed mailing label to the attention of Sonny Koerner at the Commission.

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.

M. Stuart Lynn–President
Maxine K. Sitts–Program Officer, Editor
Sonny Koerner–Managing Editor

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