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CPA Newsletter #81, July 1995

Commission on Preservation and Access

The Commission on Preservation and Access


July-August 1995

Number 81

Commission Elects Two Board Members

A university librarian and a provost have accepted invitations to join the Commission Board of Directors. Unanimously elected during the May 1995 board meeting were Elaine F. Sloan, Vice President for Information Services & University Librarian, Columbia University; and Stanley A. Chodorow, Provost of the University of Pennsylvania.

Elaine Sloan has served Columbia in her current capacity since 1988. She previously was the Dean of University Libraries at Indiana University and the Associate University Librarian for Public Service at the University of California. Sloan has held the position of President of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and has been an active member of ARL, the American Library Association, and the Association of College and Research Libraries. She holds an MLS and Ph.D. in Library and Information Science from the University of Maryland.

Chodorow is the University of Pennsylvania’;s Chief Academic Officer. In this role, he is responsible for the conduct, coordination, and quality of the University’;s academic programs and for their future development, including undergraduate and graduate education. Before assuming his current position, Dr. Chodorow was the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Planning and Dean of Arts and Humanities at the University of California at San Diego. A noted medieval historian, he continues to teach and do research, and has been honored three times for teaching excellence. Dr. Chodorow studied government at Cornell University, where he received his doctorate.

The new members will be welcomed at the annual meeting November 30, 1995. At that time, Millicent Abell, a founding member of the Commission who recently retired as University Librarian at Yale University, will be honored upon her retirement from the Board.

NHA Update: National Endowment for the Humanities

Circumstances are changing daily regarding the status and funding of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), with the one constant being the grave danger to its continued existence, according to the National Humanities Alliance (NHA). In an urgent and unusual move, the NHA Board voted at its June meeting to issue a special call to its members to emphasize the “dire situation at hand” regarding the future of the Endowment.

“The demise of the NEH and 30 years of growth in scholarship, research, and preservation could happen in the very near future if we further neglect the important role each of us can play,” according to the NHA statement included with this newsletter. The Alliance is asking that individuals make a special effort to contact their representatives in Congress to stress the need for appropriations for NEH. Particulars of this call for action are included with this newsletter, and more information is available from the Alliance office in Washington, DC.

Preservation Science Research

Report on Magnetic Media Interprets Industry Knowledge

A joint report from the Commission and the National Media Laboratory (NML), St. Paul, MN, helps clarify long-term storage requirements for magnetic media and provides guidance on how to care for these media to maximize their life expectancies. Magnetic Tape Storage and Handling -; A Guide for Libraries and Archives, by John Van Bogart, was developed as part of the Commission’s Preservation Science Research initiative, which encourages new techniques and technologies to manage chemical deterioration in library and archival collections.

The 34-page report is more than a how-to guide. The author, who is Principal Investigator for Media Stability Studies at NML, provides the rationale behind recommended procedures –; useful information for cost-benefit analyses and management decision-making. An extensive knowledge base from industry, together with media stability studies conducted by the NML for the U.S. Government data recording community, provide the basis for recommendations.

The report covers what can go wrong with magnetic media, how to prevent information loss, magnetic media life expectancies, and how to prevent magnetic tape from degrading prematurely. Figures and tables are used throughout the text to illustrate points and provide guidelines. Magnetic tape is considered within the broader context of other media, including paper and film. The author also discusses analog versus digital storage issues and the importance of environmental conditions for archival storage. Appendices include an industry guide to care and handling of magnetic tape, a glossary, and a short reading list.

Magnetic Tape Storage and Handling A Guide for Libraries and Archives (34 pages, June 1995) is available for $10.00 from the Commission on Preservation and Access, 1400 16th Street NW, Suite 740, Washington, DC 20036-2217. Prepayment is required, with checks in U.S. funds made payable to “The Commission on Preservation and Access.” Commission sponsors receive all publications at no charge.

News of The National Digital Library Federation and Digital Archiving Task Force

The National Digital Library Federation (NDLF) Planning Task Force is gathering information to move ahead with the implementation of a distributed, open digital library accessible on the Internet. (See the June 1995 newsletter for more background.) At a June 13 meeting, task force members focused on how to involve additional libraries, both large and small, and on what the scope of a national digital library should be. The meeting was chaired by Deanna Marcum, president of the Commission, who recalled that the NDLF evolved from informal discussions among institutions conducting Commission-funded digital projects. Concerns about the implications of digital initiatives for a range of library operations and services had motivated these institutions, known as the Digital Preservation Consortium, to consider what would be needed to create a virtual digital library in which digitized resources from any one institution would be available to all other libraries and their users.

Task force members agreed that their aspirations are to connect work that is done locally to what others are doing and to maintain local collections, but also to be able to point to related resources and services at other institutions and to emphasize the principles of common architecture and interoperability. The group focused on what is required to manage the process of building a digital library, and how to discover what must be known about digital libraries to move forward successfully.

The central feature of a national digital library that needs to be tested, the group agreed, is distributed access. They also explored the attributes of collections for addition to a national digital library. The task force will be requesting briefings from knowledgeable people on key issues that have arisen in other digital library projects. The group also will discuss with their staffs the kinds of questions and issues they believe to be important, including:

  • Infrastructure components that need to be tested;
  • Institutional priorities for content to be added to a digital library;
  • Inventory of capital and competencies of each institution;
  • Recommended criteria for a World Wide Web page;
  • URL’;s for digital collections that have been completed;
  • Suggestions for topical meetings that need to be held before planning can be completed.

Marcum will convene the group again in September. In the meanwhile, the Commission will explore ways to include more institutions.

Members of the NDLF Planning Task Force are: Anthony Angiletta, Stanford University; Jean Aroeste, Princeton University; Ross Atkinson, Cornell University; Lynn Bellardo, National Archives; Mark Brown, University of Southern California; Selden Deemer, Emory University; Dale Flecker, Harvard University; Heike Kordish, New York Public Library; Wendy Lougee, University of Michigan; Carol Mandel, Columbia University; Joe C. Rader, University of Tennessee; Sue Rosenblatt, University of California, Berkeley; Gloriana St. Clair, Pennsylvania State University; Winston Tabb, Library of Congress; Don Waters, Yale University; Deanna Marcum (chair), Commission on Preservation and Access.

The initial draft report of the Digital Archiving Task Force (DATF) –; which is intended to draw comments and suggestions –; is due for wide release in July 1995. The report will be available through several listserves and World Wide Web sites on the Internet and also will be distributed by mail. Comments on the drafts are to be sent to either one of the DATF co-chairs before November 30, 1995, when the task force will be reconvened to draft the final version. Co-chairs are:

John Garrett,CNRI

Donald Waters, Yale University

The Commission and the Research Libraries Group created the DATF in December 1994 to investigate the means of ensuring continued access indefinitely into the future of records stored in digital electronic form. (See January and March 1995 newsletters for background.) The group is composed of individuals drawn from industry, archives and libraries, publishers, scholarly societies, and intellectual property specialists.

College Libraries Committee Conducting Preservation Survey

The College Libraries Committee (CLC) has distributed a four-page survey on preservation activities to approximately 200 colleges listed as liberal arts I and II or comprehensive I and II in the Carnegie classification and members of the Oberlin Group. Responses will help plan future projects.

The survey asks for information about preservation priorities, funding, staffing, collection assessment, environmental conditions, and institutional preservation needs and concerns. Individual institutional anonymity will be strictly observed, but general survey results will be summarized and distributed in the fall of 1995. Coordinating the survey are committee members Michael Haeuser, Librarian, Gustavus Adolphus College, and Victoria Hanawalt, Librarian, Reed College.

Commission Board Acknowledges First Sponsor Pledges

The Board of Directors has expressed its thanks to the first 22 institutions that have pledged sponsorship of Commission activities and programs for the next three years. The Board is contacting–;in stages–; universities, colleges, publishers, and allied organizations, both current and potential sponsors. The decision to target additional sponsors reflects the increasing number of institutions involved in the preservation and access agenda. Billy E. Frye, Chairman of the Board, points out that “our independent stance enables the Commission to act quickly and effectively as a catalyst and coordinator at local, national, and international levels.”

In acknowledging the importance of a broad base of sponsorship, Deanna Marcum, president of the Commission, states, “We are all too aware of the difficult financial pressures facing institutions of higher education and the painful necessity to balance short-term local needs and long-term, cooperative objectives. We appreciate your willingness to commit scarce resources to our cooperative effort to transmit our intellectual heritage to those who follow us.”

The recent appointment of Marcum to the joint presidency of the Commission and the Council on Library Resources is seen by the Board as “a major step in strengthening the programs of the Commission as it supports and advocates the essential role of libraries in a time of changing opportunities and needs.

A Sponsor Brochure that describes programs and activities is available from the Commission.


Association of American Publishers

University of California, Davis
University of California, Los Angeles
Columbia University
Cornell University
Harvard University
Johns Hopkins University
Miami University
University of Minnesota
National Agricultural Library
National Library of Medicine
Northwestern University
Pennsylvania State University
Princeton University
Smithsonian Institution Libraries
Southern Methodist University
Stanford University
University of Southern California
University of Tennessee
University of Texas at Austin
University of Washington
Yale University

updated June 20, 1995

International Program Report

UNESCO “Memory of the World” Continues Plans

UNESCO has moved ahead to develop a vast and ambitious program entitled “Memory of the World,” which intends to both safeguard and promote awareness of the endangered world documentary heritage. As described in the Commission’;s April 1994 newsletter, the program expects to build a listing of documentary heritage of world significance in a “Memory of the World” Register that will call attention to deteriorating collections and assist in obtaining funds from governments and sponsors.

There is common ground between “Memory of the World” and recent initiatives in the U.S. and elsewhere. For example, with its emphasis on the use of digital technology to provide access to and assist in the preservation of deteriorating collections, “Memory of the World” fosters a growing body of documents in digital form. In addition, many U.S. institutions are involved with preservation projects abroad.

A second meeting of the Advisory Committee for the program was held in Paris in early May 1995. Even at this early stage, UNESCO had received more than 30 proposals for a very wide variety of projects. Examples include protection of the written cultural heritage of the Aegean Archipelago; a pilot project to safeguard archives of the Patmos Monastery; preservation of and access to the documentary cultural heritage of Albania; preservation of Tamil palm-leaf manuscripts; conservation of Sanskrit manuscripts in Tibet; a Vietnam pictorial heritage project, safeguarding of Perso-Tajik and other Oriental manuscripts, and many others.

It is expected that the program’;s register of documentary heritage will be created at regional, national, and international levels. The “General Guidelines to Safeguard Documentary Heritage,” which formed the basis for discussion at the May meeting, will be published later this year and distributed widely in all UNESCO official languages. Pieter Drenth, Chairman of the new European Commission on Preservation and Access, was one of the attendees, along with representatives of foundations and non-governmental organizations. Although the U.S. is not a member of UNESCO, the participation of the Commission from the U.S. also has been welcomed by the program’;s coordinators.

Hans Rütimann,
International Program Officer

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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