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CPA Newsletter #80, June 1995

Commission on Preservation and Access

The Commission on Preservation and Access


June 1995

Number 80

National Digital Library Federation Agreement Signed

Leaders of fifteen of the nation’;s largest research libraries and archives and the Commission on Preservation and Access signed an agreement on May 1, 1995, that pledges collaboration toward the establishment of a National Digital Library Federation. At the signing held at Harvard University, the founding members of the Federation collectively responsible for hundreds of millions of cultural, scholarly and historical resources agreed to cooperate on defining what must be done to bring together from across the nation and beyond digitized materials that will be made accessible to students, scholars, and citizens everywhere, and that document the building and dynamics of United States heritage and cultures.

A primary goal of the Federation is the implementation of a distributed, open digital library accessible across the global Internet. The library will consist of collections expanding over time in number and scope to be created from the conversion to digital form of documents contained in founding member and other libraries and archives, and from the incorporation of holdings already in electronic form.

In support of that goal, the Federation will establish a collaborative management structure, develop a coordinated funding strategy, and formulate selection guidelines to ensure conformance to the general theme of U.S. heritage and culture. The Federation also will adopt common standards and best practices to ensure full informational capture and guarantee universal accessibility. The agreement recognizes and acknowledges the important leadership role that the Library of Congress has played in raising as a national issue the need for such a digital library.

The first phase of the Federation’;s work will be completed in six months. During that time, a sub-group coordinated by the Commission and composed of senior members of the staffs of the founding institutions will develop an action plan to address, among other issues, funding strategies and the involvement of additional institutions, both large and small. This newsletter will report regularly on developments.

The Agreement and list of its signers are included with this newsletter.

Task Force Receives Delmas Foundation Grant

The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation has awarded a grant of $10,000 in support of the work of the Digital Archiving Task Force, a joint project of the Commission and the Research Libraries Group (see January and March 1995 newsletters). The group, co-chaired by Don Waters, Associate University Librarian of Yale University, and John Garrett, Director of Information Resources at the Corporation for National Research Initiatives, was formed in response to the growing concern about how digital information will be preserved for the future.

The task force is investigating the archiving of digital information, taking into account organizational, legal and economic issues. The task force will widely circulate an interim report among librarians, archivists, curators, technologists, and relevant government and private sector organizations for comment. A final report is scheduled for completion by late summer, 1995.

For more information on either the Federation or the Task Force, contact M. Stuart Lynn, Vice President for Technology, (510) 548-2244; email

AMIGOS Announces Seminar Acceptances

The following individuals have been selected to participate in the third Preservation Management Seminar for College Libraries designed for staff with part-time responsibilities for preservation. This year, the seminar is being managed by the AMIGOS Preservation Service, Dallas, TX. Developed originally by the Commission’;s College Libraries Committee (CLC), the training session has been offered every two years in a different part of the nation. This year, the July 9-17 event is to be held at St. John’;s College, Santa Fe.

Participants selected to attend include three international librarians sponsored by the Commission’;s International Program. One U.S. participant was selected by the CLC to receive free tuition.

The CLC and the SOLINET Preservation Program (Atlanta, GA) jointly planned and conducted the first seminar, and the second seminar was managed by SOLINET. Serving as lead instructor this year is Lisa Fox, who led the first two seminars. The program will focus on the administrative aspects of preservation activities, recognizing that each department within a library has a responsibility to help ensure enduring access to scholarly resources.

Accepted participants as of May 15, 1995:

Brad Cole, Northern Arizona University
Mary Sieminski, Clark University
Jami Peele, Kenyon College
Carrie Marsh, The Claremont Colleges
Mary Chalker, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Cecilia Aros Hunter, Texas A&M – Kingsville
Mary Wilson Stewart, James Madison University
Sarah Bryan, University of Central Arkansas
Sandra Harris, Linda Hall Library
Josephine Igbeka, University of Ibadan, Nigeria
Alexandra Dipchikova, National Library of Bulgaria
Ramón Sánchez Chapellin, National Library of Venezuela
Galina Kislovskaya, Library of Foreign Literature, Moscow

A few more applicants can be considered, according to Tom Clareson, Preservation Service Manager at AMIGOS. For more information, contact him at 1-800-843-8482.

New Report Explores Digital Resolution for Replacing Text Materials

In Tutorial: Digital Resolution Requirements for Replacing Text-Based Material: Methods for Benchmarking Image Quality, authors Anne R. Kenney and Stephen Chapman propose a way to estimate resolution requirements for the digital conversion of texts. This 22-page illustrated tutorial is an outgrowth of work at the Cornell University Library Department of Preservation and Conservation.

Digital conversion presents a number of challenges. What kinds of scanning techniques does one choose for documents selected for digital preservation? For instance, the choice of how many dots per inch (dpi) will depend on the nature of the material being digitized. How does one assess the level of resolution needed to reproduce all significant detail? Kenney and Chapman propose the use of the Digital Quality Index formula to help determine resolution requirements for a wide range of documents and different scanning systems.

The tutorial begins with a discussion of the attributes of documents selected for preservation. These fall into four categories: text/line art; halftone; continuous tone; and mixed. Scanning methodologies, compression techniques, and visual inspection requirements are then covered.

The report suggests guidelines for scanning source documents such as monographs, serials, agency records, manuscripts, and halftone and continuous tone images. It concludes with recommendations to institutions contemplating the use of digital technology to convert paper and film-based material. Charts, tables, and figures accompany the text throughout.

Tutorial: Digital Resolution Requirements for Replacing Text-Based Material: Methods for Benchmarking Image Quality(April 1995, 22-pages, ISBN 887334-38-6) is available for $10.00 (prepayment by check only, U.S. funds). Commission sponsors receive publications at no charge.

Finding Aid Project Working Toward Consensus

The Berkeley Finding Aid Project began as a collaborative endeavor to test the feasibility and desirability of developing an encoding standard for archive, museum, and library finding aids (see February 1995 newsletter). Initial funding came from the Department of Education Higher Education Act Title IIA Research and Demonstration program (October 1993-September 1995). ArborText (Ann Arbor, MI) and Electronic Book Technologies (Providence, RI) have provided additional support in the form of software grants.

In April 1995, the Commission funded a conference on the project at the University of California, Berkeley. The purpose of the conference, attended by about 50 representatives of special collections, archives, libraries, and museums, was to build a consensus to advance the encoding scheme developed in the project from a “prototype standard” to “working standard.” A working standard is employed by a broad cross section of the community on an experimental basis in order to acquire the experience necessary for developing the standard.

Concurrent with archive and library community experimentation, a working group funded by The Bentley Historical Library Research Fellowship Program for Study of Modern Archives will develop encoding standard design and development criteria, engage in a detailed critique of the finding aid data model and encoding scheme, and assist in revising the encoding scheme into a viable proposal for a standard..

According to Daniel Pitti, Librarian for Advanced Technology Projects at Berkeley, “the object of the Berkeley Finding Aid Project was not to create a standard for finding aids, but to demonstrate the desirability and feasibility of such a standard by creating and implementing a prototype. A cross section of the archival community has indicated to us that we have accomplished this limited goal. We now hope that the experimental database being created will provide the community the experience it needs to understand what is possible in the digital environment, and, building on this understanding, to engage in an informed debate on just exactly what kind of standard it wants.”

A complete report on the project is being developed for distribution by the Commission. Another result of the conference is a new listserv, FINDAID, which has three purposes, according to Pitti. First it provides an open, community forum for those experimenting with the prototype SGML-based prototype encoding standard for archive and library finding aids developed by the project. Second, it provides information for those in the archive and library community who are not actively experimenting with the encoding scheme but who are interested in observing the discussion. Finally, it serves as a means for those involved in the encoding scheme development to gather information from the community and to disseminate information to it for evaluation and response. Those participating in this endeavor recognize that standards are the work of communities working through recognized bodies.

Questions about FINDAID may be directed to: Daniel Pitti, Librarian for Advanced Technologies Projects, The Library, University of California, Berkeley. Email:

What are Appropriate Standards for the Indoor Environment?

A Symposium on The Indoor Environment scheduled for Friday, June 23, 1995, is one part of a series of 1995 Summer Programs at the Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Among the invited speakers are three scientists from the Commission’;s Preservation Science Council: James Druzik of the Getty Conservation Institute; Don Sebera, Consultant; and James Reilly of the Image Permanence Institute. An announcement of the event follows:

Containing facilities costs and optimizing the cost-effectiveness of conserving collections are urgent priorities for museums, libraries, and archives as their budgets remain static or shrink.

Policy and budget decisions have sometimes been based on received wisdom in the absence of quantified observational or laboratory evidence. Now, however, significant research is providing a better basis for quantifying the effects of different environmental parameters on different kinds of collections, and new tools based on this research are available to help conservators, architects, engineers, and facilities managers determine the optimum balance of collections conservation and energy conservation.

The NYU symposium will present the latest findings in these areas by the people who are undertaking research, creating environmental management tools, and applying them to major cultural facilities.

The symposium is on the final day of a Conservation Center Seminar on The Indoor Environment to be presented by Norbert S. Baer and Paul N. Banks.

For further information, contact: Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, 14 East 78th Street, New York, NY 10021. Telephone: (212)772-5848. Email:

Notes about the Newsletter

Newsletter Number 78 does not exist. The April 1995 newsletter is Number 77, and the May newsletter is Number 79. Our apologies to readers who are claiming a “missing” issue.

Beginning this year, we will be issuing a combined July-August newsletter, rather than individual newsletters each month. This change means that ten newsletters will be issued each calendar year. We have always issued a combined November-December issue.

Reading of Interest

“Ten Years of Preservation in New York State: The Comprehensive Research Libraries,” by Janet Gertz, in Library Resource and Technical Services, V.39, n.2 (April 1995).

The NYS Program for the Conservation and Preservation of Library Research Materials has disbursed over $15 million for the preservation of research materials since its founding in 1984. This article describes grants to the
11 comprehensive research libraries covering a wide range of preservation activities. Publisher: Association for Library Collections and Technical Services, American Library Association, Chicago, IL.

The Spring 1995 issue of Council Update, a Dispatch from the National Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Property.

Includes an article, “Will conservation and preservation funding withstand the tempest on Capitol Hill?” along with several articles of interest to the preservation and access community. Contact: NIC, 3299 K Street NW, Suite 602, Washington, DC 20007.

The Commission lends displays and provides handouts that inform others about the importance of preservation and access. Organizations interested in displays and materials can request an application form and brochure from the Communication Program at the address listed in the box on page two.

Mission and Goals for a National Digital Library Federation

We, the undersigned, agree to collaborate towards the establishment of a National Digital Library Federation. The Federation’;s mission is to bring together -; from across the nation and beyond -; digitized materials that will be made accessible to students, scholars, and citizens everywhere, and that document the building and dynamics of America’;s heritage and cultures.

We have as our goals:

The implementation of a distributed, open digital library conforming to the overall theme and accessible across the global Internet. This library shall consist of collections -; expanding over time in number and scope -; to be created from the conversion to digital form of documents contained in our and other libraries and archives, and from the incorporation of holdings already in electronic form.

  • The establishment of a collaborative management structure to coordinate and guide the implementation and ongoing maintenance of the digital library; to set policy regarding participation, funding, development and access; to encourage and facilitate broad involvement; and to address issues of policy and practice that may inhibit full citizen access.
  • The development of a coordinated funding strategy that addresses the need for support from both public and private sources to provide the means to launch initiatives at our and other institutions.
  • The formation of selection guidelines that will ensure conformance to the general theme, while remaining sufficiently flexible and open-ended to accommodate local initiatives and projects; and to ensure that the digital library comprises a significant and large corpus of materials.
  • The adoption of common standards and best practices to ensure full informational capture; to guarantee universal accessibility and interchangeability; to simplify retrieval and navigation; and to facilitate archivability and enduring access.
  • The involvement of leaders in government, education, and the private sector to address issues of network policy and practice that may inhibit full citizen access.
  • The establishment of an ongoing and comprehensive evaluation program to study:
    • how scholars and other researchers, students of all levels, and citizens everywhere make use of the digital library for research, learning, discovery, and collaboration;
    • how such usage compares with that of traditional libraries and other sources of information;
    • how digital libraries affect the mission, economics, staffing, and organization of libraries and other institutions; and
    • how to design systems to encourage access by individuals representing a broad spectrum of interests.

To these ends, we agree to establish a task force, to be coordinated by the Commission on Preservation and Access, composed of senior members of the staffs of the undersigned founding institutions. The task force will over the next 3 months develop a draft of a phased plan to accomplish these goals, and report back to the undersigned. A final plan will be produced in 6 months. This plan will also address involvement of institutions that are not initial members of the Federation.

We recognize and acknowledge the important leadership role that the Library of Congress has played in raising as a national issue the need for such a national digital library; and in recognizing the need for a broadly collaborative undertaking that brings together the expertise, collections, and capabilities of many institutions.

We understand that the accomplishment of the above goals raises significant issues of policy, funding, organization, scholarship, technology, and law, and will require the participation of many institutions of government, business, and education if the project is to be successful. We pledge that we and our staffs will work together to address these issues and to nurture such participation.

This statement is made in recognition of our common belief that problems and issues inhibiting the formation of digital libraries are best resolved through collaborative practical activity rather than through further theoretical discussion. The time is now ripe to establish a national digital library of sufficient size, scope, and complexity to support a meaningful test of the effect of distributed digital libraries on equitable access, on learning and scholarship, and on the economics and organization of libraries.

Signed, May 1, 1995:

Scott Bennett
University Librarian,
Yale University

James H. Billington
Librarian of Congress,
The Library of Congress

Nancy Cline
Dean of University Libraries,
Pennsylvania State University

Richard De Gennaro,
Roy E. Larsen Librarian of Harvard College,
Harvard University

Joan I. Gotwals
Vice Provost and Director of Libraries,
Emory University

Paula Kaufman
Dean of Libraries,
University of Tennessee

Michael A. Keller,
University Librarian and Director of
Academic Information Resources,
Stanford University

Nancy S. Klath
Acting University Librarian,
Princeton University

Paul LeClerc
The New York Public Library

Peter Lyman
University Librarian,
University of California, Berkeley

Deanna B. Marcum
Commission on Preservation and Access

Trudy Huskamp Peterson
Acting Archivist of the United States,
National Archives and Records Administration

Donald E. Riggs
Dean of the University Library,
University of Michigan

Alain Seznec
University Librarian,
Cornell University

Lynn F. Sipe
Acting Director of the University Libraries,
University of Southern California

Elaine Sloan
Vice President for Information\Services and University Librarian,
Columbia University

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.

Deanna B. Marcum–President
Maxine K. Sitts–Program Officer, Editor

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