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CPA Newsletter #84, Nov-Dec 1995

Commission on Preservation and Access

The Commission on Preservation and Access


November-December 1995

Number 85

Commission Distributes Annual Report

Sponsoring institutions and others on the mailing list are receiving the newly published Commission on Preservation and Access Annual Report July 1, 1994 to June 30, 1995. During the past year, when the digital world required institutions of higher learning to collaborate and improvise, the programmatic focus of the Commission–preservation of the historical record–continued without interruption.

The year was marked by personnel and organizational changes, culminating in an agreement to affiliate formally with the Council on Library Resources and to share a president.

Much of the programmatic focus was on digital technology, for it is the driving force in many of the changes occurring today. Preservation remains the primary focus of the Commission, however, not because it provides an opportunity to experiment with technology, but because preserving the intellectual and cultural heritage is the unarguable responsibility of all who call themselves librarians and archivists. It is precisely because the technology leads us to new opportunities and tools for meeting that obligation that it has become a central concern.

The annual report describes Commission activities in the following areas: the Brittle Books program, technology, scholarly involvement, the International Program, preservation science research, committees and institutional initiatives, and communication. Appendices provide lists of publications and reports, committees and task forces, and the board of directors and staff. Financial statements are included.

Copies are available at no charge, but supplies are limited. Requests should be made to the Communication Program via FAX: (202)939-3407; Email:; or USPO mail.

Policy Board Establishes Principles for NDLF

Agreement on an overall objective and basic principles for the National Digital Library Federation was reached by the Policy Board, composed of directors of founding institutions, during a planning meeting in early October. (See June, July-August, and October newsletters for background.) The objective of the Federation was articulated as follows:

To establish the governance structure and technical infrastructure for a collaboratively managed, physically distributed, not-for-profit repository of digital information in support of instruction and research. The Federation seeks to integrate the unique characteristics and capabilities of digital technologies with the existing strengths of the nation’s research libraries and institutions of higher education to provide convenient and affordable access to our intellectual and cultural heritage.

The Policy Board adopted the following principles regarding the nature and governance of the Federation:

  • The NDLF is not a membership organization.
  • The founding institutions will serve as a Policy Board to define the criteria and standards necessary for furthering its objectives.
  • All allied and related institutions are invited to participate in the collaborative creation of a national digital library capacity by adopting the objectives, criteria, and standards endorsed and widely publicized by the Policy Board.
  • During the beginning phases of development, the Commission on Preservation and Access will serve as the managing partner to catalyze, coordinate, and raise leverage funding for the NDLF.
  • All participating institutions meeting NDLF conditions and criteria are eligible to apply for funding under the NDLF umbrella.
  • The organizational structure is deliberately flexible to encourage bi- and multi-lateral collaborative projects and funding efforts.

Many issues are involved in establishing a set of technical conditions and standards; the group reached agreement on the following principles and needs:

  • Use off-the-shelf products wherever available.
  • Identify areas where no off-the-shelf product exists and establish priority for seeking solutions.
  • Identify areas where NDLF will not be involved (i.e., basic research).

The Planning Task Force will be charged with defining the specific technical conditions necessary to achieve the NDLF objectives.

The meeting addressed issues of selection, organizational change, licensing, and relationships with vendors. The assignment of Henry Gladney, an IBM Research staff member, to work with the Planning Task Force in exploring the technical issues was endorsed, and the Board agreed to encourage collaborative partnerships with other vendors wherever appropriate for assistance in solving specific application problems for a national digital library.

The composition of the Policy Board was announced in the June 1995 newsletter.

Planning Task Force

Anthony M. Angiletta
Assistant University Librarian for Collections
Stanford University

Ross Atkinson
Associate University Librarian
Cornell University

Peter B. Hirtle
Policy & IRM Services
National Archives and Records Administration

Marvin Bielawski
Deputy University Librarian
Princeton University

Mark Brown
Associate Dean for Information Technology, University Computing Services
University of Southern California

Selden Deemer
Library Systems Administrator
Emory University

Dale Flecker
Associate Director for Planning and Systems, Office for Information Systems, University Library
Harvard University

Heike Kordish
Deputy Director of the Research Libraries
New York Public Library

Wendy Lougee
Director, Digital Library Program
University of Michigan

Carol Mandel
Deputy University Librarian
Columbia University

Deanna B. Marcum (Chair)
Commission on Preservation and Access

Joe C. Rader
Head, University Archives
University of Tennessee

Susan F. Rosenblatt
Deputy University Librarian
University of California, Berkeley

Gloriana St. Clair
Associate Dean for Information and Access Services, University Libraries
Pennsylvania State University

Sarah Thomas
Acting Director for Public Service and Collection Management I
Library of Congress

Donald J. Waters
Associate University Librarian
Yale University

Selection, Advocacy Among Top Issues for Preservation Managers Council

The Preservation Managers Council recapped its four-year history and identified current concerns during a September meeting with Commission president Deanna Marcum, who chairs the group. The PMC provides a forum for administrators of large preservation programs and serves as a communication link between the Commission and preservation professionals. In past years, the PMC was instrumental in developing the Preservation Science Research initiative and assisted with technical research projects. It also conducted investigations of the availability of preservation microfilm and of the quality of preservation microfilm produced under NEH grants.

Members described the PMC as a generator of ideas and as a reality check on the impact on local institutions of projects designed at national and international levels. A basic value of the PMC, it was concluded, is in providing an opportunity for full discussion of issues. Issues of top priority identified during the discussion were:

Selection for Preservation and Digitization. Decisions about what to digitize are being made at the tops of organizations without necessarily involving user needs or preservation considerations. Preservation administrators (and other librarians/archivists) would benefit from efforts to assist institutions in understanding and taking into account preservation and user issues. Explorations of selection criteria and budgetary considerations would be especially useful.

Standards: As a starting point, a review of current standards work related to preservation could help identify where more work is needed and how preservation administrators can be most influential in assuring that goals are met.

Science Research: The research needs identified by the Preservation Science Council should be revisited to develop a new set of priorities, which most likely would include the chemical longevity of non-paper media and the management of environments to extend the usable life of collections.

Advocacy in Time of Change: Despite successful awareness-heightening activities in the 1980’s, there is a renewed need today to advocate for a high priority for preservation in national and institutional agendas. Members are concerned with a lessening of attention to preservation in universities, particularly in view of the reduction in National Endowment for the Humanities funding.

Reinventing the Preservation Profession: New definitions of the preservation–and library–profession may be needed in this increasingly digital age. As preservation considerations become an integral part of all library activities, including electronic access, there is a need to reconceptualize the meaning, activities, and intent of preservation programs.

Education: Continuing education is needed in managerial areas for preservation administrators and in electronic information issues and new technologies for staff.

PMC members are: Margaret Brynes, National Library of Medicine; Ellen Cunningham-Kruppa, University of Texas at Austin; Richard Frieder, Northwestern University; Diane Kresh, Library of Congress; Christine Ward, New York State Archives; and Anne Kenney, Cornell University.

Report Confirms Availability of Recycled, Permanent Papers

Of 423 papers on a newly developed list of North American papers that qualify as permanent by U.S. standards, 235 (55 percent) contain recycled fiber. Eight percent of the papers are 100 percent recycled, and many contain 20 percent postconsumer waste. The listing, compiled by Abbey Publications, confirms conclusions from 1994 that recycled paper also can be long-lived. The report, which contains an updated introduction and new sections on recycled paper and paper permanence, is available for $19.50 from Abbey Publications, 7105 Geneva Dr., Austin, TX 78723. (North American Permanent Papers, ISBN 0-9622071-3-6, 1995, 52 pp.)

Texas A&M, Kingsville, to Develop Program Following Seminar

A participant in the July 1995 Preservation Management Seminar for College Libraries, co-sponsored by AMIGOS (Dallas, TX) and the Commission, reports that she has been named Preservation Officer at the Jernigan Library, Texas A&M University-Kingsville. Cecilia Aros Hunter was serving as the university archivist when she was asked to consider the preservation problems in the Rare Book Room. In February she began a survey of that collection and in July attended the Sante Fe seminar, the third such event and the first held in the southwest. In September, Hunter was named Preservation Officer, granted faculty status and offered the opportunity to develop a preservation program for special and circulating collections.

The Preservation Management Seminar has been held every two years in a different region of the U.S. to develop management skills for college library staff with part-time responsibility for preservation. The College Libraries Committee, which developed the seminar and has assisted with each event, recently decided to make all materials available to any person or organization wishing to have them, with the expectation that the program will continue to be replicated.

College Libraries Committee to Hold Invitational Workshop on Preservation Goals and Digitizing

The Commission’s College Libraries Committee (CLC) is planning a spring 1996 workshop for library directors on digitizing texts and images. The workshop will help college libraries benefit from and contribute to preservation and access goals within the new digital technology environment. The workshop responds to needs identified during a recent survey of college libraries conducted by the CLC.

The workshop will provide the opportunity for college library administrators to obtain a basic understanding of scanning and the alternatives that should be considered as they determine how to make the best use of this technology. Comparisons and conclusions from the projects and initiatives described during the workshop will help directors make informed decisions on the use of scanning in their libraries; descriptions of the problems encountered should enable them to benefit from the experiences of others. Challenges such as the uncertainty of the legal environment, the paucity of technical standards, and the clouded vision of the use and usefulness of scanning will be explored. A discussion of costs and cost models will help guide college librarians as they consider how much they can invest in scanning.

There will also be consideration of how books (and librarians) will survive in the new world of digital access. What will be the hybrid format for the foreseeable future? What types of print publications are most likely to be completely replaced by electronic publication, and what print publications are likely to continue in their current format? How are images accommodated in the electronic format, and what new formatting possibilities are made possible by electronic publishing?

Featured speakers will include Anne R. Kenney, Director of the Department of Preservation and Conservation at Cornell University, and Paul Conway, Head of the Preservation Department at Yale University, who will discuss their continuing research on digitizing images. Randall Frank, Director of Information Technology and Director of the Computer-Aided Engineering Network at the University of Michigan, will speak on “Lessons Learned from Digitizing One Million Pages: The JSTOR Experience.”

Todd Kelley, Co-Director of Project Muse, Johns Hopkins University, and David M. Seaman, Coordinator of Electronic Texts at the University of Virginia Library, also will participate as speakers. A panel of college librarians moderated by Connie Dowell, Dean of Information Services and Librarian at Connecticut College, will react to presentations. Deanna B. Marcum, President of the Commission on Preservation and Access and the Council on Library Resources, will conclude the workshop with an assessment of the current state of the art and a discussion of what we might expect in the future.

Attendance at this workshop is by invitation only. For further information contact Willis Bridegam, Librarian, Robert Frost Library, Amherst College, Amherst, MA 01002. Email:

Other CLC Activities

Willis E. Bridegam, Librarian, Amherst College, has assumed the chairmanship of the College Libraries Committee. Kathleen Moretto Spencer, who chaired the group since its founding in 1989, was honored for her years of leadership at the group’s October meeting in San Antonio, TX.

A report on the findings of the committee’s recent survey of college library preservation activities and needs will be included in the Commission’s newsletter early in 1996.

Colorado,Wisconsin-Madison Join Sponsors

The University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Colorado, Boulder, have become the 48th and 49th sponsors of the Commission. Sponsors receive newsletters and reports at no cost and are acknowledged in Commission publications and annual reports. In a time of financial stringencies and reductions in federal support for preservation and access, the willingness of sponsors to contribute to collaborative activities is even more essential and appreciated

NEH Cutbacks Affect Preservation and Access

In late October, the National Endowment for the Humanities was expecting an appropriation of $110 million for fiscal-year 1996, reflecting a 36 percent cut in the total NEH budget. Funding for the Division of Preservation and Access was cut by 23 percent, from $22 million to $17 million. National programs for grants were cut almost 45 percent, while the percentage of the NEH programmatic budget for State Humanities Councils was increased from 22 to 33 percent.

The administrative budget of NEH was reduced 27 percent, resulting in a loss of 90 positions. The NEH is restructuring into three divisions: The Division of Preservation and Access will remain with added responsibilities for reference materials and research tools. The other two are the Division of Public Programs and Enterprise, and the Division of Research and Education. The Office of Challenge Grants will remain in operation, and there will be a new Office of Federal/State Partnership to work with State Humanities Councils.

ALCTS – Communication Liaison Established

The Association for Library Collections & Technical Services, a division of the American Library Association, has appointed a liaison to the Commission to foster communication between the two organizations. Appointed for a two-year term is Connie Brooks, head of the Preservation Department at Stanford University Libraries. Brooks is a member of the Preservation Science Council.

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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