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CPA Newsletter #103, Oct 1997

Commission on Preservation and Access

The Commission on Preservation and Access


October 1997

Number 103

Donald Waters to Head Digital Library Federation


onald Waters has joined the staff of the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) as the Director of the Digital Library Federation (formerly the National Digital Library Federation). Mr. Waters comes from the Yale University Library, where he was the Associate University Librarian, responsible for the Systems Office, Preservation, Central Acquisitions and Cataloging, Government Documents, and the Social Science and Science Libraries. He also served as the senior financial administrator, with supervisory responsibility for the Business Office and the Library’s operating budget.

In announcing the appointment, Deanna Marcum, president of CLIR, commented, “Don Waters is eminently qualified to lead this important national project. He has been a strong and influential force in the NDLF from its earliest days. As we were searching for the ideal director, we wanted to find someone who has an in-depth understanding of digital technology, but also understands the full range of managerial issues that libraries now face. We have found that ideal person in Don Waters.”

Mr. Waters holds Ph.D. and M.Phil. degrees in Anthropology from Yale University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park. He was at Yale for 15 years, initially in the Yale Computer Center and then in the Yale School of Management, where he served as Director of Computer Services. He moved to the Library in 1987 to become the Head of the Systems Office, and was named Director of Library and Administrative Services in 1992. He is the author of dozens of professional articles and presentations on digital libraries, digital preservation, electronic scholarly communication, and networking, and co-author with John Garrett of the widely cited report Preserving Digital Information. Report of the Task Force on Archiving of Digital Information, which was published by the Commission on Preservation and Access in May 1996 and recently honored by the Society of American Archivists with its 1997 Preservation Publication Award.

In June 1997, the National Digital Library Federation officially became a project of CLIR and part of its broad program on digital libraries. There are currently 17 libraries and archives participating in the Federation, which has identified three primary topics for its agenda and launched projects that begin to address them: (1) the discovery and retrieval of digital information; (2) intellectual property issues and economic models for the provision of digital information; and (3) the archiving of digital information.

Mr. Waters can be reached by e-mail at

SAA Honors Commission Report
The Commission’s Preserving Digital Information. Report of the Task Force on Archiving of Digital Information by Donald Waters and John Garrett has received the Preservation Publication Award of the Society of American Archivists for 1997. (Copies of the report are available from CLIR for $15 each, including postage and handling, prepaid in U.S. funds by check made out to the Council on Library and Information Resources.) 

Preservation Film to Be Shown on PBS


he new Terry Sanders film Into the Future: On the Preservation of Knowledge in the Electronic Age, produced in association with the Commission on Preservation and Access and the American Council of Learned Societies, will be broadcast nationally on PBS on Tuesday, January 13, 1998, at 10:00 P.M. EST. 

Commission to Issue German Report on Digitization for Preservation


he Commission on Preservation and Access has published an English version of a report from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Association) on issues involved in using digitization for preservation purposes. The report, Digitization as a Means of Preservation?, was written by Dr. Hartmut Weber and Dr. Marianne Dörr and translated under the auspices of the European Commission on Preservation and Access, which made the English version available in Europe in July 1997.

The following excerpts describe the origins of the report and suggest its approach to technical issues. (Copies of the full text are available for $10 each, including postage and handling, prepaid in U.S. funds by check payable to the Council on Library and Information Resources.)

From the Preface:

For preservation managers digitization is, in a way, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. How does one deal, from a preservation point of view, with a medium that is notoriously unstable, for which 10 years is long term? What is the point of relying on such technology, when we worry about saving paper materials that are slowly degrading over 100 or 200 years? In the midst of all the excitement about the potential of the new medium, it is not always easy to keep all the advantages and disadvantages firmly in mind.

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Association) is actively involved in preservation of research materials. In allocating grant money to projects, it takes the view that, in preservation, the enormous potential of digitization for access should be combined with the stability of microfilm for long-term storage. The DFG thus commissioned a study to investigate the relationship between the two methods and to establish how the two could be profitably combined. The result was a detailed report on the technical requirements and advantages of using microfilm as the basis for digitization, which showed how one can have the best of both worlds and achieve both optimal access and maximum preservation.

From the Report:

Because printed materials continue to deteriorate rapidly, a joint Bund-Länder (federal-state) working group in Germany has, in conjunction with a conference organized by the Ministers of Culture of the German states, recommended a further extension of filming. The hectic developments in network and data technology, with their constantly improving capacity for the transmission of document images, open the way to new forms of use. The victory parade of the Internet and the vista of virtual digital libraries, offering ubiquitous and swift access of consistently high quality to documents, must in the future be incorporated into the concept of any preservation program. With this in mind, the subcommittee of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Association) responsible for questions of preservation suggested in the spring of 1995 the establishment of a working group to discuss questions of digitization, in particular the digitization of microfilm. The group was to consist of librarians, archivists, and technical experts currently working in the field, and would explore the demands of quality assurance, and the possibilities and limits of the new techniques.


The group concentrated on investigating the technical state of digitization of microfilm and the changing compatibilities of microforms and digital conversion forms. Filming and digitization tests were carried out with standardized test materials and the results evaluated. The group prescribed minimum standards for the printout quality of microfilms (material, image quality, and filming organization) for problem-free digitization. It also set requirements for high-quality digitization, relying on the quality index for the reproduction quality of manuscripts, as this is used as a quality standard for microfilming. In addition to black-and-white film and bitonal digitization, the possibilities for digitizing color microfilm were considered. There were also discussions on the processing of microfilm and on the hardware and software needed for quality control and use of data. The vital questions of security and migration in digitization projects were a central theme. Aspects of financial viability were taken into account at all points. From the findings of the working group, a strategy for the introduction of digitization into preservation projects could be derived: microfilm has continuing priority as a recording and storage medium because of its quality and stability over time. As a medium for document delivery, the digital form, with its advantages of swift and remote access, in a quality depending on the intended use, should be employed. Direct digitization can achieve a result of higher quality in only a few cases.


As with preservation filming, every film should start with an introductory sequence. This should clearly identify the film, including its unique number, relevant information about ownership, content, filming technique (reduction ratio and scale), and a test frame with information about readability and continuous tone reproduction according to DIN or ISO. It may also be appropriate to discuss with the digitizing firm the question of identifying the film in a way that is machine-controllable and facilitates the delivery of individual films or parts of films.

In ordinary film projects, certain elements of the organization of filming are often – wrongly – ignored. They are more important in the case of film digitization. They include take-counters, subdivision of films by indication sheets, placement of blips, and documentation on the filming procedure. Structuring a film by legible indications on the filmed material, running take numbers, blips, and appropriate indications on a take frame, together with a consistent documentation of this structuring, makes indexing for retrieval and further processing much easier and reduces costs. Besides the single blip, which in conjunction with a take-counter usually suffices to identify individual frames, it is also possible to use group or sequence blips. This is particularly important in relation to data organization, i.e., accuracy of access and avoidance of superfluous page turning on the screen. Its high value justifies the extra effort required during the stages of preparation and filming.

The resources committed to structuring the information depend on the nature of the filmed material and how it will be used. It makes no sense to put a 300-page book on the screen with no markers to facilitate retrieval. In all cases, material to be filmed requires extensive indexing that can also improve access to the original microfilm. The time required for this, and, therefore, the implications for personnel and costs, must not be underestimated.


Reproduction quality depends essentially on the installation of suitable filming equipment. The requirements that have been described are met by most modern planetary cameras, which guarantee resolution of at least 120 lp/mm over the entire screen. The equipment should also include the following: automatic focusing, lighting that adjusts automatically to the material being filmed, a camera head that can turn, adjustable lamps (for lighting book folds), image field projection, adjustable image masking, automatic lighting of blips, and take counters. For filming books and archival material, the camera should produce optimal results with reduction ratios of between 8 and 24. For conservation reasons, the planetary camera should also have a device for protecting bindings and book covers, such as a two-part book-cradle with a sufficiently open glass plate with adjustable pressure. It should be possible to film heavier and oversize volumes without damaging them.

Since second-generation films (duplicating masters) are normally used in digitization, the film should be silver-halogenide duplicate film of the same polarity (DDP film). Duplicating should be undertaken with high-quality duplicating equipment (working under vacuum on parallel-running films) to minimize the loss of resolution.

In general, for filming with a view to subsequent digitization, the choice of system and the procedures usually will be dictated by the same criteria as apply in the case of good-quality microfilming. However, more attention must be paid to making the film form as unified as possible, and to the organization of the filming, the structure of the film, and its documentation.


It is possible to digitize existing films and film copies. In such cases, it is essential to work with films of the lowest possible generation. It is advisable in every case to thoroughly analyze the films in terms of material, state of preservation, reduction factor, reproduction quality, filming technique, nature of the material, and organization of the filming. This analysis is best undertaken in cooperation with an experienced service provider. Before a contract is awarded, digitization tests should be carried out with standard test material. It is only on such a basis that a firm can arrive at a realistic price, which will include the possibility of improvement through treatment of individual parts of the film and image enhancement. The intended use, in the context of cost, will determine agreement on the quality standard required. Any damage to the film, such as scratches, dirt, or fraying, will also influence the quality of digitization. 

Competition Announced for 1998 Goldspiel Research Grant

Applications are now available for the 1998 Steven I. Goldspiel Memorial Research Grant to promote research in library science. The award is expected to be approximately $20,000. Applications and additional information about guidelines for the competition may be obtained from the Special Libraries Association. Contact Ruth M. Arnold at 1-202-234-4700, ext. 615; FAX 1-202-265-9317; e-mail:

Preservation Materials Translated into Portuguese for Brazilian Institutions


reservation activity in Brazil has been given a great boost thanks to a project the Commission on Preservation and Access has undertaken in partnership with Brazilian institutions. The project, made possible by generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Vitae Foundation, has completed the translation into Portuguese of 52 English-language publications dealing with all aspects of preservation activity. For the first time, large numbers of Brazilian institutions and preservation staff members will have easy access to the best current thinking about numerous important technical and practical preservation matters.

Ingrid Beck of the Arquivo Nacional and Solange de Zúñiga of the Fundação Nacional de Arte were the coordinators of the project and worked with colleagues throughout Brazil to promote an alliance of institutions that had no established mechanisms for cooperating with one another. An inter-institutional advisory committee selected the texts to be translated (by a team of eight translators) and oversaw the long process of converting them into Portuguese. The task was complicated by the need to adopt a standardized terminology in all the materials. The translations were initially far too literal and required extensive revision and editing, both linguistic and technical, before they were finally ready for publication. Two thousand copies of each text were printed.

Six regional seminars, held throughout Brazil in locations near universities and research or documentation centers, were essential to the project. The seminars gave participants complete sets of the translated materials and taught them how to read the texts and understand the technical procedures for the treatment of different kinds of materials. Participants were given as well a version of the video Slow Fires with Portuguese subtitles, other videos on preservation issues, and a guide for reading the translated texts. The goal was to train some 160 monitors who, upon returning to their home institutions, would disseminate through lectures and local seminars the knowledge they acquired and stimulate the use of the translated literature. Additional full sets of the translations will be mailed to the 1,000 libraries and archives in Brazil that responded to a questionnaire (sent to some 5,000 institutions in the course of the project) to determine the nature of their holdings and preservation activities. This information has been collected in a data base that will serve in the future as a preservation map of and for Brazil.

A similar effort–to translate preservation literature into Spanish–is now underway at the National Library of Venezuela, and, farther afield, the European Commission on Preservation and Access is planning a translation program for other languages in Central and Eastern European Countries.

There are now plans to extend the Brazilian activities into another phase–through a Web site, occasional new translations, continued data gathering, additional workshops, the provision of consultation to institutions that were represented at the seminars and now wish to establish formal preservation programs, and the distribution of the translations in Portugal and in the Portuguese-speaking countries of Africa.

The Commission on Preservation and Access
A program of the Council on Library and Information Resources
1755 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Suite 500
Washington,DC 20036-2188
(202) 939-4750
FAX: (202) 939-4765

Commission WWW Site:

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 activities and is directed to university administrators, scholars, and faculty; preservation specialists and managers; and members of consortia, governmental bodies, and other groups sharing in the Commission’s goals. The newsletter is not copyrighted. Its duplication is encouraged.

Publications Order Fulfillment: Alex Mathews,



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