Digital Imaging and Preservation Microfilm: The Future of the Hybrid Approach for Preservation and Access
With the increased use of digital resources in libraries and archives, there has been much debate about the merits of microfilming versus digitizing for reformatting print materials. But the question must always be asked: reformatting for what purpose? For access, digital delivery is more convenient than microfilm, the image quality is often better, and the storage requirements are modest.
How well does digitizing meet the needs of preservation? Not very well, according to most experts. Digital materials are inherently more vulnerable than analog because they depend on sequences of numeric codes that can be easily corrupted. Specific hardware and software are also required to make sense of these codes. These tools are constantly changing and there is no guarantee that the hardware or software with which a document is created today will be available in 30 or 100 years to read the original file.
There is no universally agreed upon technological approach or institutional/consortial capability in place to guarantee continuing access to digitized materials of enduring value. As such, microfilm remains the preferred preservation reformatting strategy even as digital imaging has assumed a prominent role in enhancing access to such materials.
The “Hybrid Approach”
In 1992, renowned microfilm expert Don Willis drew upon technological developments to suggest that microfilm and digital technologies could be combined to meet the needs of both archival storage and digital access. “By taking advantage of the strengths of film combined . . . with the access capabilities provided by digital archiving,” he concluded, “a preservation system can be designed that will satisfy all known requirements in the most economical manner.” This system became known as the “Hybrid Systems Approach.”
A key question raised by the hybrid approach is whether it is better to film first or scan first. In the US, two projects have been done to examine these alternatives. With funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Commission on Preservation and Access, staff at Yale University conducted “Project Open Book,” which researched the conversion of archival quality microfilm to digital images. A similarly funded project was undertaken at Cornell University to first scan images and then create computer output microfilm.
What have these two projects taught us about the benefits of scanning first or filming first? What are the issues affecting quality, cost, and access? And, when considering either approach, what are essential metadata for digital books and serials that should be created at the time of scanning? How can these lessons from research and testing be used in production at other libraries?
In January, CLIR will issue a draft report entitled Digital Imaging and Preservation Microfilm: The Future of the Hybrid Approach for the Brittle Books Program. Key investigators of the two research projects, Paul Conway of Yale University; Anne Kenney of Cornell University; and Stephen Chapman of Harvard University, wrote the report. The paper states what we already know about the hybrid conversion approach and outlines a research agenda for those areas needing more work.
The report states certain assumptions about the present status of preservation and access–for example, that reformatting remains the only viable long-term strategy for dealing with the problems posed by brittle paper, although there may be strong incentive to retain the original volumes for as long as possible. The recommendations in the report are limited to brittle monographs and serials containing monochrome text and simple graphics. Only strategies that are both quality-oriented and cost-effective are recommended. As such, the paper focuses on the use of high contrast microfilming and bitonal digital imaging. It presents options for both film-first and scan-first strategies, providing guidance to institutions in deciding the best course of action based on their particular collections, capabilities, and needs.
The report also raises questions that cannot be answered without the thoughtful deliberation of those who share responsibilities for preservation technologies, such as preservation administrators, vendors, and technologists. CLIR will seek the opinions of those who are in the best position to assess the paper. It will then convene those who can start to answer the questions that remain before libraries can widely and routinely adopt the hybrid conversion approach. The draft paper will be available on the CLIR Web site www.clir.org or in print, upon request. CLIR encourages the comments of interested readers.
|Brazil Translation Project Wins National Award
|The project for Translation and Dissemination of Preservation Knowledge in Brazil, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and coordinated by CLIR, recently won Brazil’s most prestigious national prize in the area of cultural heritage: the Primo Rodrigo Melo Franco de Andrade. The Ministry of Culture’s National Institute for Historic and Artistic Patrimony presented the award in early December to the interinstitutional alliance governing the project. The alliance had coordinated the work of the project, which translated into Portuguese 52 titles of English-language preservation literature, conducted six regional workshops, and initiated a nationwide preservation survey. With continued funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the workshops will be replicated in almost all Brazilian states, adjusted to local needs, and the project’s scope will be expanded.
|News from the ECPA
Nordic Conference on Preservation and Access
On October 4-6, the Royal Library of Denmark and the Royal Library of Sweden jointly organized a conference on preservation and access, which took place in Stockholm and attracted about 75 participants from many European countries.
Buildings and their importance for preservation and access were a central issue. In Europe, the building projects of the British Library and the Bibliothèque nationale de France have been in the public eye for years. Specialists and the popular press alike have scrutinized them for their functionality and style. Participants at the Stockholm conference witnessed the Swedish solution, which combines a historic monument in a park with six stories of underground stacks hewn from the granite on which Stockholm is built.
They do things differently in Denmark: there, a new building is under construction (“the black diamond”) where everything will be above ground because of the weakness and wetness of the soil. The new building has opened the way for a total review of collection management policies in terms of preservation and access. The challenge is how to combine optimal access and maximal preservation of the collections, which, in spite of the ambitious extensions, will still be housed in several different places. A review is now being done about storage of all the collections, weighing such factors as the type of collection, usage patterns, and state of materials.
The eternal problem of how to organize storage when space is limited and collections are forever growing was a recurring topic. Two schools of thought were represented: the comprehensive and the selective approach. In Sweden, the Royal Library has the legal obligation to collect all materials printed in Sweden–not just books and journals. There is now an equally ambitious Swedish project in the digital arena to store all Swedish Web sites through regular harvesting (http://www.kb.se). The project is based on the idea that weeding afterward is more efficient than selecting beforehand.
In contrast, some participants held the opposing view, that “less is more.” They favored a selective approach to collection management, especially if long-term access is a primary goal. Selection for preservation has parallels with selection for digitization in that decisions cannot be based solely on formal, economic, or technological criteria. An effective preservation (or digitization) policy requires a serious intellectual effort to establish which content is worth keeping (or digitizing) for future users.
European national libraries must balance requirements for access with those of preservation because they have a mandate to preserve national heritage, while the situation in research libraries is less clear. There are few, if any, explicitly formulated national preservation policies. Should libraries, archives, and museums each have separate policies? Or, in the digital age, should there be a common, comprehensive preservation policy for these institutions? Whether limited or comprehensive, all conference participants agreed that a document clearly stating preservation policies would be a powerful tool in negotiating with the governments that currently provide most–or all–of the funds.
Preservation Management Summer School 1999
A summer school for preservation managers in archives and libraries will introduce key elements of preservation management and give participants practical insight into problem solving. The course, in English, is organized by the Public Record Office and LIBER (Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche), in conjunction with the British Library, the European Commission on Preservation and Access, University College of London, and the International Council on Archives. It will be held July 19-23 at the Public Record Office–the UK National Archives–and at the British Library. The course, which will include policy, strategy, and planning, will enable participants to develop and plan preservation in their own organizations.
The speakers will include leading figures from archives, libraries, and museums who have firsthand knowledge of the challenges facing preservation managers. They will outline issues and practical problems and then help participants work through similar scenarios to find solutions.
For further information contact Sue Seber, Public Record Office, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU, UK. Fax: +44-181-392-5254 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
|CLIR and AAU Publish Mirage of Continuity
|The Council on Library and Information Resources and the Association of American Universities (AAU) have published a book of essays entitled The Mirage of Continuity: Reconfiguring Academic Information Resources for the 21st Century. The volume, edited by Brian L. Hawkins and Patricia Battin, explores how technology is transforming the way in which universities will provide information resources in the 21st century.
The essays examine why the traditional concepts of “library” and “information technology division” may need to be revised conceptually and operationally to meet the evolving needs of institutions and their faculties and students.
The book is available from CLIR for $25, including postage and handling. Orders must be prepaid by credit card or by check, payable to CLIR.
Preserving Access to Digital Information: The PADI Web Site
In recent years, The National Library of Australia has given attention to the issue of how Australian digital publications can be archived and preserved. Its pilot PANDORA digital archive has been one response to this issue.
As another response, and in cooperation with other Australian institutions, the Library has developed an information resource known as PADI (Preserving Access to Digital Information). PADI (http://www.nla.gov.au/padi/) is a Web-based service that provides links to selected sources of information dealing with digital preservation.
Purpose of the PADI Site
The PADI Web site provides information about issues affecting digital preservation. It points to information such as:
- international research that is being done on digital preservation problems;
- the policies of major institutions and organizations in addressing these problems; and
- developments in standards that aim to address some of these problems.
Effectively, the PADI site is a “subject gateway” that links to many hundreds of key sites on the World Wide Web and to published information dealing with the issue of digital preservation. Besides these links, it provides substantial original information and commentary.
It also provides a focus for cooperative action, at the national and international levels. For example, at the recent workshop “Legal Deposit of Electronic Materials,” sponsored by the IFLA Section on National Libraries and held in Amsterdam on August 20, 1998, Deputy Director General Jan Fullerton presented a paper entitled “Developing National Collections of Electronic Publications: Issues to be Considered and Recommendations for Future Collaborative Actions.” This paper, which several Library staff members developed, made three recommendations relating to PADI:
- National libraries interested in designing and building systems for the handling of electronic publications should provide a summary report of their work in this area for publication on the National Library of AustraliaÕs PADI site.
- National libraries with legal deposit obligations should use the PADI site to exchange information on the implementation of legal deposit for electronic publications.
- National libraries should provide information about relationships they have with publishers as part of their general report for the PADI site.
Establishment of the Site
The PADI initiative originated from a recommendation at a cross-sectoral meeting of Australian heritage institutions. This meeting, held in 1993, recommended that “a group comprising members from the library and archives sectors be established to develop appropriate guidelines for the preservation of information in electronic form.” This group became the PADI Working Group.
It was not until late 1996 that the PADI Working Group decided to develop an evolving Web-based information resource, instead of producing printed guidelines. The Web-based resource would contain original material and links to relevant Web sites in Australia and elsewhere.
One section of the site addresses the policy questions behind the preservation task. It poses the questions that must be considered before embarking on any preservation program. While it is not yet possible to provide definitive answers to these questions, the site explores the issues and provides guidance.
A second section of the site lists links to relevant online resources: conference details, sites and organizations, bibliographies, policies, discussion lists and journals, and reports of useful case studies. Rather than being comprehensive when creating these lists, the aim is to identify those that would be of most use to practitioners. In this way, the site is adding significant value to the information accessible via the Internet.
Information on key topics forms the remainder of the site. These topics include details of preservation paths such as migration and emulation; issues surrounding specific media and formats such as e-mail, electronic records and magnetic materials, including technological obsolescence; resource discovery and identification issues, including metadata; and copyright and related access issues. Each of these topics is briefly discussed in terms of the long-term preservation of digital information. Selected resources are listed for each topic to help users pursue the topic in more detail.
The most dynamic aspect of the Web site is the “What’s happening” page, which provides current information on what is happening in the world of digital preservation and access. Entries include Web links and brief descriptions of each linked resource.
It was envisaged that the PADI site would provide a series of best-practice guidelines to help others who may be embarking on related projects. To date, resources have not allowed the realization of this stage.
The Future of the PADI Initiative
PADI was initially developed with the support of a one-time external grant, and it has been a challenge for the Library to continue supporting the site. The Library believes that the PADI site has become an important “subject gateway”for Web-based information on digital preservation. Outcomes of other activities can be given a focus through the PADI site. Consequently, the Library will give a high priority to the maintenance and development of PADI during the next year.
There is a need to secure the best possible advice concerning the development of the PADI site, including advice on the priority areas for attention, and on the gaps that need to be filled. The Library intends to establish a new PADI Reference Group to provide such advice. Leading international and Australian experts on digital preservation are being invited to join this group.
PADI fits squarely within the Library’s strategic objective of ensuring that Australians will have future access to Australian documentary resources. Given that more information about Australia and Australians is being created and published in digital form, the Library must address the difficult issues of digital preservation. It aims to do this in partnership with key Australian and international experts. The PADI site supports this activity and provides part of the solution by documenting the challenges and solutions associated with the preservation of digital information, and by providing a focus for cooperative action.
For more information, visit the PADI Web site or contact Colin Webb at email@example.com. The mailing address is: National Library of Australia, Parkes, ACT 2600, Australia. Fax: +612 6257 1703. Contributed by Warwick Cathro
NEDLIB Creates Infrastructure for European Deposit Library
The Networked European Deposit Library (NEDLIB) is a new collaborative project of European national libraries. Given national deposit libraries’ responsibility to ensure that today’s electronic publications can also be used in the future, the project aims to construct the basic infrastructure upon which a networked European deposit library can be built.
NEDLIB was launched January 1, 1998 with funding from the European Commission’s Telematics Application Programme. The project includes 11 partner libraries, archives, and information technology developers from eight countries.1 The Koninklijke Bibliotheek, National Library of the Netherlands, leads the NEDLIB project. Also, three publishing companies contribute to the project as sponsors: Kluwer Academic and Elsevier Science BV, both based in The Netherlands, and Springer-Verlag in Germany.
Areas of Investigation
The project investigates key issues of standards and interfaces for the generic architecture, electronic document technical data, access controls, and preservation procedures. Information technology developers and publishers are helping to define these standards, methods, and techniques. The commercial and copyright interests of publishers will be handled through access controls implemented when the publications are stored and activated when they are retrieved.
The identification of the NEDLIB functional requirements for a Deposit System for Electronic Publications (DSEP) started with a typical use case approach. Details about the different national legal frameworks, electronic deposit collections, initiatives to set up an electronic deposit system, infrastructures, workflow, and practices have all been collected and recorded in a background study. The study shows a great variety of practices and user needs. Further work attempted to gain consensus on the generic requirements for a DSEP and to analyze them. This process was formalized into a high-level design. The design reflects a top-down perspective, common to all deposit organizations. For completeness of design and practical implementation, the process must be complemented with bottom-up perspectives, focused at the local level. This will be done in future work. Functional specifications of local implementation will be mapped to generic and local levels, during an iterative design process.
The developing NEDLIB generic architecture will be continually assessed against similar architectures being developed in other contexts, such as: the Prototype Archival Design of the Victorian Electronic Records Strategy (Australia), the Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS) of the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (USA), and the Architecture of the Digital Library developed by the Computer Science Technical Reports project (USA).
While attaining a generic architecture and generic functional specifications, the project will implement three modules: a module for the capture and mounting of electronic publications, an access module, and a long-term preservation module. These modules will be tested at several sites, in differing local contexts. The integration of the three modules in a complete DSEP prototype will be tested at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek.
Deposit libraries will benefit from the resulting guidelines for deposit and documentation of standards and conventions for a generic DSEP. Participating publishers will get reactions to operational control of electronic publications and on usage measures. Information technology vendors and developers will gain insight on the technical infrastructure requirements for long-term document management and storage systems. End-users can count on national libraries not only as a place to obtain today’s electronic publications, but also as a last-resort location for obsolete electronic publications that no one else can or will preserve.
More Information on NEDLIB
NEDLIB issues project news sheets twice a year. They can be found at the NEDLIB Web site and are distributed by several discussion lists. Readers can follow the discussion from the NEDLIB-INT archives at: http://listserv.surfnet.nl/archives/nedlibint.html. To subscribe to the listserve, send an e-mail to: LISTSERV@NIC.SURFNET.NL. In the body of the message write: subscribe NEDLIB-INT first name last name.
NEDLIB hopes to conduct fruitful discussions with information technology experts and publishers concerning issues such as access control, long-term preservation strategies, standards and interfaces for the generic architecture, technical data of electronic documents, and archival maintenance procedures.
For further information about project NEDLIB, contact: Ms. Titia van der Werf, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, P.O.Box 90407, 2509 LK The Hague, The Netherlands. Tel: +31 703140467. Fax: +31-70-3140501. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
1Besides the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, partners include Agentschap Rijksarchiefdienst (The Netherlands); Bibliothque nationale de France; National Library of Norway – Mo I Rana; Helsinki University Library (Finland); Die Deutsche Bibliothek (Germany); Biblioteca Nacional do Portugal; National Library of Switzerland; Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze (Italy); Instituto De Engenharia de Sistemas e Computadores, INESC (Portugal); and CSC Ploenzke AG (Germany).
German Library Mechanizes and Privatizes Conservation Facility
For many years, The Deutsche Bibliothek had sought to develop methods for preserving original items that could be done economically on a large scale, rather than in the traditional way, a single item at a time.
The library’s conservation department started to develop its own system for mass deacidification. The library adapted the Battelle process and by 1994 was operating a facility that could treat about 100,000 books each year. By 1998, it had deacidified about 300,000 volumes at an average cost of $US 10-11 per book (based on the weight of the item). Accelerated aging tests on the treated paper suggest that the process will quadruple its life.
Deacidification treatment is only useful if paper is not too degraded. When objects are too brittle for deacidification, other techniques must be considered, including wet treatment, leaf casting, and, for the most damaged objects, paper splitting.
Even before the library began its deacidification treatment, a staff member, Dr. Wolfgang Wächter, had been developing the idea of a completely mechanized paper splitting process. In 1997, the machine became a reality. It can process about 5,000 leaves per day, at a cost of about $US 3 per sheet. Through the use of core paper and core adhesive that contains an alkaline buffer, it deacidifies and strengthens paper. Unlike the results from embedding or lamination, paper splitting preserves the texture of the original. The surface of the paper and the readability is unchanged; the process even preserves watermarks.
Paper splitting, like mass deacidification, requires expensive equipment and skilled staff. The mechanized process is economical only with large quantities. Thus, it is rarely cost-effective for a single institution to operate such machines. As a result, the preservation and conservation department of the Deutsche Bibliothek was privatized in March 1998. The newly formed service company, ZFB Zentrum für Bucherhaltung GmbH, moved the deacidification and paper splitting machines out of the library and into a new facility. In September 1988, the company completed a new mass deacidification chamber that increased the annual capacity to about 200,000-400,000 books. It now offers mass paper conservation and restoration to public and private institutions in Germany and abroad. About 90 percent of the company’s business comes from within Germany–including all conservation and preservation work for the German libraries in Frankfurt and Leipzig. The remainder of its business comes from elsewhere in Europe. The company is considering establishing new enterprises abroad, including in the United States.
Inquiries about the processes may be directed to Ernst Becker, Managing Director, ZFB Zentrum für Bucherhaltung GmbH, Mommsenstr. 7, D-04329 Leipzig. Phone: +49-341-25989-0. Fax: +49-341-25989-99. E-mail: Info@ZFB.com. The company also has a Web site at www.zfb.com.
Africa Research Central
Research in African primary sources–whether records, manuscripts, personal papers, photographs, or artifacts–has posed challenges to the research community since the dawn of African Studies as a discipline. Scholars outside Africa struggle to learn about the holdings, services, and clearance procedures of African repositories, while scholars within Africa must cope with the fact that much of the African primary source heritage is housed beyond the continental borders. Africa Research Central was created to centralize and continually update information about institutions with African primary source collections, to simplify international research in African Studies.
The growth of the Internet has potentially resolved many traditional barriers to access, including the wait period in obtaining information, the problems of updating information, and the difficulty in knowing about the existence of information resources.
At the same time, growing Internet connectivity makes it possible for new partnerships to emerge that can help preserve African primary sources. Africa Research Central serves as a bridge between African repository professionals and researchers by publicizing the needs of the repositories and suggesting a plan of action for concerned researchers.
The Africa Research Central Web site offers links to information on repositories in more than 50 African countries. It also provides a dozen links to information on the conservation and preservation of African materials. A recent look at the Web site provided information on the emergency situation in Guinea-Bissau, where fighting has resulted in the almost total destruction of archival documents, audiotapes, photographs, films, and databases at the Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa. It calls on the international research community to help rebuild the archive.
The site allows you to click on AltaVista’s Translation Assistant to read the page in French, German, Italian, Portuguese, or Spanish.
New Directory of Permanent Paper Sources
A new edition of the European Directory of Acid-free and Permanent Book Paper has just been published by LIBRIME in Brussels. The directory presents 75 types of permanent book paper (conforming to ISO 9706 and ANSI Z3948 standards) produced by 18 manufacturers in nine European countries. These papers, which guarantee the durability of the printed matter for centuries, are described with their technical specifications and are aimed at publishers and other professionals in the book sector in Europe.
The directory also explains the process of self-destruction of acid-containing paper, the problems of conserving brittle publications in libraries, and the ISO 9706 and ANSI Z3948 standards for “permanent paper.” Finally, it provides the full text of the resolution for the use of permanent paper as adopted in 1989 by the International Publishers Association and in 1997 by UNESCO.
Interested persons may request one free copy of the Directory from: LIBRIME, Bld. L. Schmidt 119, Box 3, B-1040 Brussels, Belgium. Fax: +32-2-736-82-51.
Disaster Preparedness Web Site
The Conservation On Line Web site, maintained by the Stanford University Libraries Department of Conservation, provides a wealth of information on disaster preparedness. Among other items, it offers the full text of disaster plans for more than 20 university libraries. The site can be found at http://palimpsest.stanford.edu.
|Council on Library and Information Resources
|1755 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W. Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036
Fax: (202)-939-4765 · E-mail: email@example.comThe Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) grew out of the 1997 merger of the Commission on Preservation and Access and the Council on Library Resources. CLIR identifies the critical issues that affect the welfare and prospects of libraries and archives and the constituencies they serve, convenes individuals and organizations in the best position to engage these issues and respond to them, and encourages institutions to work collaboratively to achieve and manage change. CLIR maintains four current programs: the Commission on Preservation and Access, Digital Libraries, the Economics of Information, and Leadership.CLIR’s International Program falls within the Commission on Preservation and Access. The program seeks to build awareness internationally about preservation issues and to support colleagues abroad in their work to meet preservation goals.Correspondence about this publication should be sent to Kathlin Smith, Editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or to the address shown above.This newsletter is not copyrighted.
Its duplication is encouraged.