CPA Annual Report: 1988 – 1989

The Commission on Preservation and Access

Annual Report

July 1, 1988 – June 30, 1989
September 1989

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Appendix

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

Financial support for Commission activities came from many sources during 1988-89. On behalf of the academic and research community, we express our thanks to:

Foundations

  • The Council on Library Resources
  • The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
  • The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
  • The Getty Grant Program
  • The H.W. Wilson Foundation

Universities and Libraries

  • University of California, Berkeley
  • Columbia University
  • Harvard University
  • University of Illinois
  • Indiana University
  • University of Michigan
  • Princeton University
  • Stanford University
  • Yale University

The research libraries of the New York State preservation program:

  • New York State Library
  • SUNY-Albany
  • SUNY-Buffalo
  • SUNY-Stony Brook
  • Cornell University
  • New York Public Library
  • New York University
  • Syracuse University

INTRODUCTION

For the librarians, archivists, scholars, and university administrators who have long been striving to preserve scholarly resources, the period covered by this annual report might well be remembered as a watershed twelve months–a time when the passage of major federal funding enabled the preservation movement to advance into a new stage of multi-faceted awareness and action. The rescue of valuable paper-based materials from deterioration–once a specialized concern of isolated subsets of the library and archives community–evolved into a cause among broader populations during 1988-89. This new consciousness also stimulated a heightened concern about all formats–film, fiche, magnetic tape, laser disk–that carry the human record of creativity. Faculty, authors, government and industry officials, regional network managers, legislators, professional association personnel, and spokespersons from the popular media discovered that they too have a stake in preserving the recorded past and could contribute to a collective solution. The wider involvement sought by so many preservation professionals over the past several decades gathered force in 1988-89. Federal sources came forward with multi-million-dollar funding followed by supporting legislation from a number of states. Innovative technical research and development projects sprang up with backing from industry and foundations, paper manufacturers changed their production processes, writers and publishers publicly declared their commitment to the use of acid-free paper, and scholars and faculty provided intellectual stimulus to resolving difficult choices regarding the selection of materials to be preserved. The Commission’s program activities during this momentous year followed the mandate articulated by the Committee on Preservation and Access to serve as a matrix for preservation activity, providing an ordered place for existing components and seeking to supply the elements required to fill the gaps. Much of our energy during this period was devoted to seeking fresh mechanisms for the involvement of new and diverse participants and developing more productive connections among established activities. Along with identifying priorities for action for the twelve-month period, Commission members also sought to determine the most effective methods for addressing specific issues. In some instances, we launched initiatives to develop new contexts for exploration. In others, we worked to develop collaborative responses and to create new linkages among formerly disparate groups. With still other issues, we moved to support and facilitate the existing work of organizations already strongly involved in and identified with specific preservation concerns. Throughout the year, the focus was on the commitment to exploit to the fullest the flexibility afforded by the Commission’s unique organizational role. As a catalyst and a matrix, we are committed to serving as an effective agent for the libraries, archives, and other organizations that must, in the end, do the work of preservation. The passage of federal funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities’ expanded preservation program created innumerable issues requiring action. As with all long-range and comprehensive programs, the initial impact of this massive national effort created an environment that in turn spawned new complexities. Some issues, it was decided, could best be addressed by a combination of initiatives: forming committees, convening meetings, sponsoring research, and developing collaborative arrangements. These issues, as summarized and analyzed in the following annual report, include institutional initiatives, communication linkages, selection criteria, new technologies, and copyright implications. Other issues–paper quality, deacidification techniques, and statewide planning for preservation–seemed best served by supporting the efforts of existing organizations. In addition to a summary of the range of Commission activities in these general areas, this annual review also highlights a major Commission program, the International Project. Although this report must necessarily focus on the activities of the Commission on Preservation and Access, it is gratefully dedicated to the thousands of preservation activists who have brought their cause to its new level of maturity and visibility and to the funding agencies, both public and private, that have provided the unprecedented opportunity for significant action. On library shelves, the “slow fires” of paper deterioration continued during 1988-89, but a series of backfires were being built and lit to check the destruction. As 1990 approaches, there is a resurgent national and international consciousness dedicated to saving our intellectual heritage for future generations.
Patricia Battin

ORGANIZATION AND GOVERNANCE

On July 1, 1988, the Commission on Preservation and Access moved from a program component of the Council on Library Resources to independent status as a nonprofit corporation in the District of Columbia, organized as a public charity under the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt provision of the Internal Revenue Service Code. The move to separate status was recommended by the Committee on Preservation and Access in the report, Brittle Books: Reports of the Committee on Preservation and Access (Washington, D.C.: Council on Library Resources, 1986) and subsequently approved by the Board of Directors of the Council on Library Resources, Inc. The new organization’s board of directors included the ten members of the previous Commission plus president Patricia Battin. During the year, Richard De Gennaro, Director of the New York Public Library, and Donald S. Lamm, Chairman and President of W.W. Norton Company, were elected to a three-year term. Herbert S. Bailey, Jr., Director Emeritus of the Princeton University Press, retired from the Commission. In accordance with its bylaws, the Commission on Preservation and Access is a private, nonprofit organization that fosters, develops, and supports 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 our intellectual and cultural heritage. The intent of the Commission is to maintain a small staff and work mainly through existing institutions and groups, including universities, research and academic libraries, archives, the scholarly disciplines and their professional societies, private foundations, the United States Congress, the National Endowment for the Humanities, library and humanities associations, publishing and printing industries, and information technology corporations. The Commission’s fundamental objectives are the following:
  • the preservation, on microfilm and other archival media, of the contents of deteriorating printed materials;
  • the conservation, where appropriate, of the book as an artifact;
  • the creation of a cost-effective system to provide unrestricted access to copies of preserved materials in a choice of formats;
  • the use of alkaline paper for publications of enduring value; and
  • the institutionalization of preservation as a vital component of library and archival operations on a continuing basis.
The National Advisory Council on Preservation (NACP) meets annually and provides a formal link among organizations committed to preservation and advises the Commission in its work. Council members include individuals designated by library, academic, governmental, and scholarly organizations with an interest in preservation. Maxine K. Sitts, formerly Program Officer for Publications and Information Services, Association of Research Libraries, joined the Commission as Program Officer in February 1989 to fill the position vacated by Peter G. Winterble’s resignation, effective January 1, 1989.

SPECIAL REPORT THE INTERNATIONAL

PROJECT
The most important aspect of the international project is bridge-building between different countries and disparate groups, between what is already in place and what we perceive could be set in place.
The initial pilot project, which began in June of 1988, envisaged the following phases: 1) Conducting an exploratory study with the national libraries of Great Britain, France, West Germany, East Germany, Austria, and Venezuela. The study was meant to determine the extent to which preservation records exist in each country; to identify the difficulties of converting those records to machine-readable form and of entering them into a common database; to decide on the level of bibliographic detail needed to exchange records easily; and to determine the best way to proceed in creating a shared database capacity. 2) Developing an agenda and organizing a meeting “on the working level” of representatives from the participating countries–the meeting to be held in a convenient European location. 3) Preparing a report to document the findings, outline the next steps, and provide the basis for grant proposals in support of identified projects. Since we were venturing into unknown territory, the project’s outline was of necessity quite narrow; our plan was to develop additional strategies as we went along. Thus it was no surprise that the project soon had to be broadened; that some important aspects were not specifically included in the outline; and that it was not possible to follow the project’s neat sequence of activities. In fact, some that were proposed for the third and last step ran concurrently with the assessments planned for the first phase. Most of this first year was spent identifying institutions, projects, and individuals and then establishing as well as fostering working relationships. It was decided to add Canada to the list of pilot countries. It was relatively easy, though time-consuming, to assess the extent to which preservation records exist in each country. The willingness with which our colleagues abroad shared information allowed for the identification of the organizations, projects, and individuals active in preservation efforts. The original list of contacts was limited to the national libraries in the pilot countries. It was a sound starting point, but not all important activities take place in the national libraries. Other institutions, such as university libraries, library institutes, documentation centers, and foundations also play an important role, and we contacted as many as possible. In Europe particularly, the need to expand our initial contacts became acute when we realized that the European Community (EC) of 1992 will affect in fundamental ways the functioning of every library in the member countries. Building relations with the EC was also essential because of its initiatives in planning for a European Register of Microform Masters. Additional “pan-European” contacts were established with the Council of Europe, the European Cultural Foundation, the League of European Research Libraries, and the European Foundation for Library Cooperation. We also changed strategy during our assessment of existing microform records: finding that there are no such records–or very few–was as important as discovering a rich depository. While exploring the reasons for the dearth of records and the underlying lack of projects, we were able to touch on basic issues such as planning and policy, priorities in preservation efforts, and the overriding problems of funding. Because effective preservation efforts are multi faceted (conservation, deacidification, reformatting, paper permanence, and more), the project’s original focus on reformatting had to be expanded from the start. As an example of our efforts to disseminate what we learned about current thinking abroad, the Commission plans to publish, in English, a German article describing an independent study of mass deacidification methods. In most countries, much microfilming has been done–primarily of newspapers–but there are few machine-readable bibliographic files to document these efforts in ways that can be disseminated easily. However, without exception, the need for better record-keeping is universally recognized, and changes are under way.
  • The National Library of Venezuela maintains a superb machine-readable file of its filmed Venezuelana;
  • The Bibliotheque Nationale has begun to put the records of microfilmed monographs in machine readable form and is planning to convert retrospectively its entire register of microform masters.
  • In West Germany, a large microfilm project is under way, involving several large research libraries. The program is coordinated at the university library of Frankfurt, and the records will be collected and disseminated by the German Library Institute in Berlin.
  • At the Bavarian State Library, a comprehensive study is under way on all aspects of acquisition, production, registering, and use of microform. The study is based on a survey of microform holdings in West German libraries.
There is more, but the point is made. No one disagrees with the need for a more organized, methodical, and coordinated approach to microfilming, within a country or internationally, and in each country we see evidence of efforts toward better coordination. But pressing local and statewide concerns and competing demands on preservation funds often relegate the larger concepts and the global vision to less than first priority. The concern about reformatting media other than microforms is also universal, and the Commission’s work in this area, particularly through its Technology Assessment Advisory Committee, will be closely watched abroad. As might be expected, the formats of microform records vary significantly from country to country. There are registers ranging from handwritten notations to sophisticated computer files. By disseminating information on the kinds of record structures most easily shared internationally, as well as the kinds of formats used for large ongoing microfilming Projects. the Commission is contributing to the development of record formats abroad. In most countries efforts have been underway for years to achieve a national format for library catalogs. In some countries where local governments have near-autonomy over the educational and library systems, this is a truly formidable task. Also, the cataloging of microform masters is often tied to cataloging rules that have been in existence for many years. And to mention just one other obstacle: many institutions abroad are reluctant to be tied to an extensive record that they consider expensive to create and to maintain. We will continue to work toward a standard format for microform registers but we do not intend to get bogged down on this issue. Existing records, though not ideal in format, are detailed and structured enough to be merged with other bibliographic data. Some countries’ records are less descriptive than we would like, but a brief record describing a collection of monographs in microform is preferable to no record at all. Common ground: One of the most gratifying aspects of the international project is the unanimously positive reaction abroad. The need for international collaboration is never questioned. Even more important is the widespread agreement to share information about ongoing and planned projects. Opinions differ within and between countries concerning the extent of damage to library holdings; why there is deterioration of materials; what precisely defines a brittle book (e.g., breakage after one, two, or three folds); and, finally, how to address the lack of funds and remedy the problems. These differing national opinions are the most powerful argument for the Commission’s involvement on the international scene. We are in a unique position to serve as a catalyst and clearinghouse for projects worldwide. There is a tremendous need for information on all preservation fronts. Numerous projects for deacidification plants, the microfilming of collections, and the use of permanent paper are currently being planned or implemented. The Commission’s flexibility, unhampered by the constraints inherent in a large organization, is particularly important because individual countries generally have no mechanism in place to coordinate their preservation efforts with those of other countries. One means of coordinating microfilming efforts is being developed by the Commission of the European Communities, where plans for a European Register of Microform Masters are taking shape. This effort, which will eventually involve the Community’s twelve member countries, is an important component of an international database. The Commission has been invited to attend further planning meetings. The Commission’s international working meeting with representatives of institutions in the pilot countries (as outlined in the initial project description) is planned for the spring of 1990. In general, we will continue to identify additional projects, using a building-block approach. The Commission will facilitate the universal availability of bibliographic data about large-scale microfilming projects; indeed, information gathered abroad on all aspects of preservation will continue to be disseminated. As a quid pro quo, information about U.S. efforts will be made available to countries participating in the pilot project. Taking the longer view, our colleagues abroad are eager to receive bibliographic information about microform masters either on magnetic tapes or on CD-ROMs. For reasons such as cost and lack of solid telecommunications structures, in most countries online access to the U.S. takes second place to working with local systems. Perhaps our most important strategy concerns preservation’s most pressing problem abroad: funding. Our foreign colleagues are extremely grateful for information and detailed figures concerning u.s. funding at the federal level. Time and again we were told that our government’s extraordinary level of funding will be used to convince other national and state governments to follow suit. In some countries, the government and private foundations (e.g., West Germany’s Volkswagen Foundation) are providing significant funds for preservation. In other countries, there is very little support. Nowhere, however, is the level of funding for preservation described as adequate. If we truly believe that scholarship is universal, that the loss of any collection anywhere is our loss, it follows that interest in preservation developments beyond our boundaries will continue to grow. The Commission is working with several U.S. institutions to identify libraries abroad that could collaborate in preserving specific collections. Such joint enterprises would allow funds to be pooled; they would also encourage cooperation and standardization of records and formats. In sum, we are seeking to avoid duplication of effort, a crucial element in saving decaying collections with limited funds.
Hans Rutimann

THE NATIONWIDE BRITTLE BOOKS PROGRAM

A fundamental objective of the Commission is the preservation, on microfilm and other archival media, of the contents of deteriorating materials in all formats and the concomitant provision of enhanced access to the written record. These twin priorities–preservation and enhanced access–were reflected in all Commission activities during the past year, with primary focus on facilitating the expanded program outlined by the National Endowment for the Humanities’ (NEH) Office of Preservation. This national effort, which received $12.3 million in federal funding in 1989, covers a twenty-year period with incremental funding to support reformatting at an annual rate of 175,000 volumes by 1993. The 1988 Council on Library Resources Annual Report includes an overview of the Commission’s role in providing testimony in favor of expanded funding for the NEH preservation program. The Commission has continued to serve as a spokesman for the library community in maintaining visibility for the preservation effort. Sidney Verba, a member of the Commission’s board, was invited by the National Humanities Alliance and the Association of Research Libraries to testify on the 1990 Appropriation for the NEH before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies of th\e Committee on Appropriations. Speaking as a scholar and university librarian, Verba emphasized the importance of the increased funding for the preservation of brittle books in that it is now possible for librarians and scholars to anticipate for the first time that a significant number of endangered materials will be saved in a sustained and systematic effort. Consequently, libraries can now move ahead with major preservation projects in the knowledge that their work will complement, rather than duplicate, that of other libraries. The federal funding, in addition to supporting a vast amount of filming in a substantial number of institutions, will also stimulate other preservation activities and fund-raising opportunities. The prospect of NEH funding, rather than reducing commitment to raise additional funds, has stimulated and increased new possibilities. Conditions of NEH filming grants require that the grantee store the microfilms in a secure, environmentally controlled facility and provide convenient, universal access at the institution’s expense. Given the capacities of new technologies for storage, dissemination, and substantial economies of scale, the Commission issued a working paper to stimulate broad discussion on possible new strategies for the cooperative support of storage and enhanced access. The paper explored the rationale for the concept of a central collection, basic principles, possible decision structures, planning mechanisms, governance issues, management and financial options, and copyright concerns. The thoughtful response from the library and scholarly community will be reflected in the continuing consideration of these issues. As the national Brittle Books program took shape during 1988-89, the role of the Commission evolved into a mixture of catalyst, facilitator, consultant, meeting convenor, and generator of options to create the new synergies necessary to support the emerging nationwide approach to preservation.

INSTITUTIONAL INITIATIVES

Although the initial stages of the NEH program focused on substantial participation by major research collections, it was also apparent that the involvement of other constituencies would be essential to the success of the undertaking. An important feature of the Commission’s catalytic role is the capacity to bring together–in meetings, committees, and task forces–the range of individuals representing the diverse and dispersed groups with a strong stake in the preservation effort. Only with the widespread integration of preservation activities into the operating environments of libraries and archives will the national program achieve its objectives. The Commission recognized early on that as preservation activities increased in research libraries and archives, a parallel need was emerging for new educational programs and a reassessment of existing staff functions and alignments. To provide a basic framework for the committee work that was to come, the Commission convened a day-long session, “Educational Requirements for a National Preservation Program,” on October 17, 1988, to discuss and identify an education agenda in response to the implications of the NEH twenty-year program. A group of fifteen educators, library directors, senior library officers, preservation specialists, and foundation representatives met to explore options and develop some alternative solutions. There was general agreement that a greater share of financial and staff resources would be required than in the past, and that a variety of expanded educational programs and opportunities would be needed to provide the talent necessary to manage and integrate preservation activities into libraries and archives. The group identified a series of short- and long-term needs ranging from brief courses and training opportunities for mid-level managers to formal degree programs to develop the specialized skills and knowledge base required for the future. The group recommended that the Commission establish a committee of library educators, librarians, and archivists to explore in greater detail the capacity of existing programs, estimates of trained personnel required, and specifications for a range of educational opportunities. Because the committee structure seemed particularly appropriate to exploration of the preservation needs and contributions of mid-sized research libraries and college libraries, two new groups were convened and met several times during 1988-89. The Mid-Sized Research Libraries Committee explored the implications of the new national program for collegial institutions and considered local needs within the new context. Several possibilities were proposed for future action, including identifying consortia and other existing organizations that could undertake coordinating functions; conducting demonstration projects of new technologies; and seeking funds to support the filming of endangered materials held by libraries lacking the facilities to engage in large filming projects. The committee also studied the feasibility of a theoretical model of a “Mid-Sized Research Library Preservation Service” that would enable mid-sized libraries to participate in the national effort. Since most libraries do not have the resources to prepare materials for filming or care for them after filming, a service to provide pre- and post-filming functions as well as the actual filming operation would enable these institutions to contribute valuable complementary resources to the national program. Other topics considered by the committee included preservation education and training needs, options for facilitating the institutionalization of preservation programs in mid-sized libraries, and convenient, cost-effective ways to integrate archival material, special collections, and other unique holdings of these institutions into the national preservation program. The College Libraries Committee developed three priorities for study and action: (1) the identification of common preservation program elements and needs within the college library setting and suggestions for local or regional training programs; (2) the encouragement of proposals by college libraries to seek funding for projects to identify for filming or conservation treatment unique, endangered materials in their collections; and (3) the development of a preservation communication network among college libraries and campus administrators. Progress was made on all fronts during the year. The committee conducted an informal survey of eighty college libraries and identified a number of endangered special collections that might be candidates for inclusion in the national program. Other initiatives included a formal recommendation to the Commission describing the content and design of a preservation workshop tailored to the needs of college library collections and staff resources, and an expanded communication program with colleagues using journal articles and direct letters from the committee to professional counterparts. As the year progressed, the Commission’s committees, as well as other library groups, articulated a growing need to foster and ensure optimal environmental conditions for book storage. Although a good storage environment will not make a brittle book usable again, it can slow down the rate at which books move over the line from endangered to brittle. Grappling with this intractable problem in isolated environments has been a long-standing frustration for professional preservationists. To meet this educational need on a nationwide level, the Commission established, with the Association of Physical Plant Administrators (APPA), a Joint Task Force on Environmental Conditions to develop a training course for facilities managers on the preservation-related needs of college and university libraries. The curriculum is expected to become a part of an active training program in 1990 operated by APPA for its members. The course will cover administrative issues such as asset management. The Mid-Sized Research Libraries Committee explored the implications of the new national program for collegial institutions and considered local needs within the new context. Several possibilities were proposed for future action, including identifying consortia and other existing organizations that could undertake coordinating functions; conducting demonstration projects of new technologies; and seeking funds to support the filming of endangered materials held by libraries lacking the facilities to engage in large filming projects. The committee also studied the feasibility of a theoretical model of a “Mid-Sized Research Library Preservation Service” that would enable mid-sized libraries to participate in the national effort. Since most libraries do not have the resources to prepare materials for filming or care for them after filming, a service to provide pre- and post-filming functions as well as the actual filming operation would enable these institutions to contribute valuable complementary resources to the national program. Other topics considered by the committee included preservation education and training needs, options for facilitating the institutionalization of preservation programs in mid-sized libraries, and convenient, cost-effective ways to integrate archival material, special collections, and other unique holdings of these institutions into the national preservation program. The College Libraries Committee developed three priorities for study and action: (1) the identification of common preservation program elements and needs within the college library setting and suggestions for local or regional training programs; (2) the encouragement of proposals by college libraries to seek funding for projects to identify for filming or conservation treatment unique, endangered materials in their collections; and (3) the development of a preservation communication network among college libraries and campus administrators. Progress was made on all fronts during the year. The committee conducted an informal survey of eighty college libraries and identified a number of endangered special collections that might be candidates for inclusion in the national program. Other initiatives included a formal recommendation to the Commission describing the content and design of a preservation workshop tailored to the needs of college library collections and staff resources, and an expanded communication program with colleagues using journal articles and direct letters from the committee to professional counterparts. As the year progressed, the Commission’s committees, as well as other library groups, articulated a growing need to foster and ensure optimal environmental conditions for book storage. Although a good storage environment will not make a brittle book usable again, it can slow down the rate at which books move over the line from endangered to brittle. Grappling with this intractable problem in isolated environments has been a long-standing frustration for professional preservationists. To meet this educational need on a nationwide level, the Commission established, with the Association of Physical Plant Administrators (APPA), a Joint Task Force on Environmental Conditions to develop a training course for facilities managers on the preservation-related needs of college and university libraries. The curriculum is expected to become a part of an active training program in 1990 operated by APPA for its members. The course will cover administrative issues such as asset management, as well as daily operational issues such as maintenance of temperature and humidity controls. In addition to conducting the training session, APPA also will be preparing an extensive resource notebook for participants.

COMMUNICATION LINKAGES

The nationwide preservation effort involves the participation of a broad spectrum of individuals and organizations that, in pursuing their own specialized interests, have not recognized the similarity of their needs in the area of preservation. In too many instances, progress was being thwarted by lack of convenient mechanisms for sharing information. The Commission responded by developing a Communications Program to address the twin challenges of forging new information linkages among diverse constituencies, while maintaining a continuing dialogue with the established preservation community. Recognizing that effective development of a national program is dependent to a large extent on keeping a variety of organizations and individuals in contact with each other, the Commission restructured its use of mailing lists and electronic mail to encompass the growing number of involved persons and groups. A series of publications was developed to provide forums for discussion and mutual understanding. These publications include brochures, fact sheets, background papers, and occasional progress and special reports (see Appendix). The Commission newsletter continued to be issued monthly, with its circulation approaching one thousand at the year’s end. Materials were developed, written, and designed with two major audiences in mind:
  • For the public-at-large: To provide a national voice for the promotion of collaborative preservation efforts; to develop a broader base for understanding and financial support; to encourage the curious to become more active supporters; and to guide interested persons to appropriate programs.
  • For persons involved in preservation: To maintain a continuing dialogue with committed colleagues in order to develop an informed and supportive collaboration for national preservation programs; to provide accurate information about the Commission’s work; to promote the discussion of alternative plans and strategies; to delineate and explain in some detail initiatives and new programs as they are developed; to provide regular updates concerning progress, setbacks, and needs; and to solicit opinions and comments on actions and future needs.
A brochure was designed to present a briefing on nationwide preservation efforts for all types of audiences. The brochure provides a basic introduction for persons interested in learning more about the role of universities, libraries, and archives in preserving the nation’s written heritage. A one-page fact sheet outlining the Commission’s purpose, program objectives for 1988/89, governance, staff, consultants, and committees complements the brochure. A background paper was developed for individuals needing a more complete picture of national preservation efforts and the Commission’s role. This paper provides a short history of national preservation efforts, an explanation of the Commission’s operating principles, descriptions of current programs, and an overview of plans for the next twenty years. These publications are supported by grant funds and are available on request. In the spring of 1989, the Commission established an electronic mailing list on ALANET, the official electronic mail service of the American Library Association, which is used for short news items and announcements as well as an informal quick reference service. Staff also collaborated with writers and editors from Educational Record, Reader’s Digest (International Edition), Inform, Change, The Facilities Manager, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and several library journals to develop articles and presentations about preservation issues. “Slow Fires,” the film sponsored by the Council on Library Resources, the Library of Congress, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, continued to receive attention from the media during the year. “Slow Fires” describes the deterioration of our world’s intellectual heritage due to acid-based paper. The film was aired again on the national Public Broadcasting System (PBS) on January 2, 1989, when PBS provided the hour-long version to its approximately three hundred television outlets via satellite. Since the film was first made available for purchase, more than 860 copies in a variety of formats have been purchased in North America and worldwide. In addition to outright sales, the Commission’s International Project lent fourteen copies to institutions abroad. The film was also one of 29 films selected from more than 150 nominations to be shown at the Council on Foundations’ ninth annual Film and Video Festival, April 9-12,1989, in Toronto, which was held to encourage and recognize grantmakers’ use of film and video to communicate messages important to their priorities and programs.

SELECTION CRITERIA

From the earliest, formative discussions of the Committee on Preservation and Access, it has been apparent that neither time nor financial resources will permit the salvation of all the books at risk. As a consequence, selection strategies are of paramount concern to the nationwide preservation effort. To provide a forum for these essential deliberations, the Commission initiated a series of Scholarly Advisory Committees. Based on the assumption that disciplinary needs are continuing to diverge as the use of technology changes the course of scholarship, the initial committees were established in those areas where the need for immediate action seemed particularly acute. The committees are charged with assessing the changes in disciplinary research and information requirements, suggesting selection criteria, advising on scholarly priorities, reviewing and assessing results as the work proceeds, and serving as liaisons to their disciplinary colleagues. Because high-contrast black-and-white microfilming is inappropriate for the preservation of materials containing both text and image, the first group to be assembled focused on art history materials. The Commission brought together a group of art historians, librarians, technology experts, and a representative from the academic publishing community for a two-day seminar on the preservation of the intellectual content of brittle books containing both text and image. A full report, including a commissioned background paper, was issued in the spring of 1989 (Scholarly Resources in Art History: Issues in Preservation. Report of the Seminar, Spring Hill, Wayzata, Minnesota, September 29-October 1, 1988. Washington, D.C.: Commission on Preservation and Access, 1989). The success of this session led to the establishment of formal scholarly advisory committees in art history, history, and philosophy. Additional committees will be established in succeeding years. Although the committees face a somewhat shapeless and undefined challenge, their preliminary deliberations have begun to set the stage for increasingly productive results as they consider possible alternatives to the inexorable reality of a crumbling knowledge base. As with most other disciplines, art historians identified as priorities complete runs of North American and European scholarly periodicals in their fields of interest, as well as classic monographs. Art historians, because they draw upon the materials of many disciplines and subjects in the humanities, arts, sciences, and technology, are concerned about the preservation of these materials as well as the products of their own scholarship, which form a reasonably well-defined corpus. The deliberations of this group indicated again the need for unprecedented linkages within the scholarly community. Underscoring this recognition, the Scholarly Advisory Committee on History agreed that indeed there is no ‘ core” body of materials and formats for historical research, and materials of interest continue to change with the expansion of knowledge and investigation. It would be difficult to predict the future course of historical inquiry, and it would be unwise to base a preservation strategy upon topics or themes. Nonetheless, choices must be made, and the group will continue to persevere. The philosophers were able to identify broad categories of materials considered prime candidates for preservation microfilming. They also speculated that the small number of philosophy scholars, as compared to many other disciplines, may somewhat simplify the process of developing selection criteria. The selection of monographs might well be carried out with the cooperation of the many specialized societies within the American Philosophical Association (APA). The Proceedings and Addresses of the APA printed several articles about material selection during the year, and the association made plans for a Commission exhibit at its December 1989 Eastern Division conference in Atlanta. These initial activities reflect the difficulty, the diversity, and the importance of scholarly involvement in the preservation effort. There most likely will be many more initiatives to pursue during the next few years as the program expands. Microfilming on an expanded, nationwide level can save the contents of millions of books, but there are also instances in which the artifact itself represents a portion of the intellectual content. In the same way that knowledge is contained in both text and image in illustrated books, so the integrity of the artifact is important for certain kinds of scholarship. To begin an exploration of this issue, a paper was commissioned on the intellectual rationale for conserving the book as artifact. The Commission expects to issue the paper in the fall of 1989 to provide a context for considering strategies to ensure the permanence and availability of these materials.

NEW TECHNOLOGIES

Although the collective initial objective for the national preservation program has been large-scale filming to capture the intellectual contents of brittle books in a new mastercopy format, the emerging capabilities of digitizing technologies offer extraordinary opportunities for the future. To date, microfilm technology appears to be the only stable technology with internationally accepted technical standards for longevity and access. The truly revolutionary capacity provided by the new technologies is the unprecedented opportunity to generate, store, disseminate, and use information in a variety of formats. The format of storage no longer necessarily represents the format of dissemination or use. It may well be that the archival format of storage will be human-readable film, with the possibility of a variety of digitized products as well as paper for use. To develop a technical agenda for the preservation effort and to provide a coordinated investigation of the use of new technologies for preservation, the Commission established a Technology Assessment Advisory Committee (TMC) during 1988-89. Because the productive and cost-effective use of technology will be dependent upon the interaction of activities in higher education, the publishing community, and the information technology sector, the TMC membership includes senior representatives from those areas. The committee charge includes the following objectives:
  • active consideration of the potential of new technologies for storage and retrieval within the context of a central collection of preserved items, including technologies for capturing information and network access;
  • recommendation and review of research and demonstration projects funded by the Commission; and
  • consideration of issues involved in the preservation of electronic formats and the preservation of media, including motion-picture film and sound recordings.
Committee members will be reviewing a range of issues related to storage, access, and image reproduction, including longevity of storage formats, technical standards, hardware and software standards. cost-effectiveness, convenient user access, and continuing market availability. The expansion of the Brittle Books program requires all reformatting processes to be completed according to strict preservation standards and on a much larger scale than previous regional or library-based efforts. The Commission funded a series of contracts for research and demonstration projects, which are designed to provide needed data and technical information to assist in the transition from a series of cottage industries to a full-scale production operation. Archival Microfiche Standards. The Commission contracted with the Mid-Atlantic Preservation Service (MAPS) in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to conduct experiments with a new microfiche camera toward the development of archival standards for microfiche similar to those available for 35mm film. A final report titled Step £, Repeat Camera (105mm) Operating Strategies and Application of Archival Standards to the Fiche Production Process” was issued in June 1989 and disseminated broadly to the preservation community. Composing Reducing Camera. A second contract with MAPS supported development of specifications with the Xerox Corporation for a special composing reducing camera (CRC) capable of digitizing 35mm film, producing film in different formats (roll and fiche), copying film to paper, and creating CD-ROM products. The design phase of this project was completed in May 1989. MAPS is now pursuing funding to build the camera. Densities on the Fly. MAPS also accepted a contract to work with Productivity Systems Inc. (ISI) on a project dubbed ‘densities on the fly.” The six-month research project entailed collecting density data as film exits the film processor, taking many readings from each frame to insure a high degree of accuracy. The product of the PSI project will be a map or graphic of the densities over the length of a film. The production advantages are significant, both for cost reduction and improved film quality. MAPS reported that significant progress in the development of a prototype unit had been achieved by early summer of 1989. Conversion of Bibliographic Records to Machine-Readable Format through Scanning. The Commission awarded a contract to the Research Libraries Group, Inc. (RLG) to study technical capabilities for scanning and converting existing bibliographic records of preserved materials into machine-readable MARC format. The project is designed to (1) test and evaluate the existing technical capabilities for scanning and converting sample bibliographic records to machine-readable MARC format, and (2) recommend a course of action, depending upon the results, for developing the technical capacity for production purposes. The project will focus on sources with immediate benefit to the national preservation program, but it will also have tangible benefits for retrospective conversion of other categories of bibliographic records.

COPYRIGHT IMPLICATIONS

The current copyright law permits the copying of deteriorated materials for preservation purposes but prohibits the distribution and/or sale of copies of items not in the public domain. In many instances, because of mergers and acquisitions among publishing houses, the identity of the copyright holder is unclear. To provide broad access to preserved materials, it will be necessary to seek new mechanisms to define an appropriate balance between copyright protection and the public interest in convenient access. The Commission has contracted for an exploration of the statutory and legal aspects of the rights to microfilm deteriorating library materials that may be out of print, beyond the period of copyright, or within copyright but with unclear or unknown copyright provenance. The paper will also provide an analysis of the constraints and opportunities for subsequent use of microfilm master copies by scholars through sale, loan, or electronic transmission as well as cost-effective, mutually beneficial strategies for balancing the conflicting objectives of ownership and access.

SUPPORTING ACTIVITIES

In addition to a series of program initiatives and activities designed to support the institutionalization of preservation at the local level, the Commission joined forces with a number of existing organizations in their specific preservation efforts. This policy reflects a fundamental Commission objective to support rather than duplicate existing activities. Improvement of paper. A major Commission goal since its founding has been the advocacy of alkaline paper for publications of enduring value. In 1988-89, this issue generated enormous interest among a number of involved constituencies: paper manufacturers, scholars, librarians, publishers, legislators, and authors. By the end of this momentous year, the paper industry was well on its way to converting to alkaline-based manufacturing processes, several dozen publishers and authors had pledged to use alkaline paper for first editions, and Congress was considering legislation to establish a national policy for the use of permanent paper for government publications.
  • The Association of American Publishers (AAP) responded to a letter from the Commission seeking support for the use of alkaline paper in trade publications. As a result, the AAP board conducted a survey on the use of alkaline paper and urged its members to consider the importance of this issue.
  • The Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI) held an unprecedented conference devoted to the issue of paper chemistry and the cultural and intellectual implications of the deterioration of acid paper. The Commission’s chairman, Billy E. Frye, provided concluding remarks, in which he congratulated TAPPI on its recognition of a serious social problem and the organization’s willingness to devote an annual conference to the subject.
  • The Association of Research Libraries, with the support of the Commission and the National Humanities Alliance, prepared and distributed a briefing package to promote the production and use of alkaline paper. The packet, “Preserving Knowledge: The Case for Alkaline Paper,” was distributed widely to government officials, members of Congress, publishers, and representatives of higher education.
  • The New York Public Library (NYPL) announced on March 7, 1989, the establishment of a Center for Paper Permanency to serve as a clearinghouse for information on the manufacture and use of acid-free paper. This Center was dedicated on “Commitment Day,” which celebrated the pledge taken by a large number of authors and publishers to use alkaline paper in first-edition publications. The Commission assisted NYPL in preparing for the event and participated in a subsequent planning session to discuss recommendations and priorities for the Center.
  • The Society for Scholarly Publishing invited the Commission to sponsor an exhibit on brittle and acidic paper at its annual meeting held in May in Washington, D.C. Attendees were given a first-hand introduction to brittle books and books with acid paper supplied by the New York Public Library and were invited to test the acid content of paper with pH pens supplied by Abbey Publications.
Deacidification. The Commission continued to review and report on technological improvements in mass deacidification in its newsletter during the year, including information on European activities gained from the International Project. A translation of the substantial study of mass deacidification technologies funded by the German federal government and conducted by the Battelle-lnstitut will be issued in September 1989. Statewide Programs. The Commission joined the sponsors of the National Conference on the Development of Statewide Preservation Programs, held March 1-3, 1989, at the Library of Congress (LC). The conference provided a national forum to describe and discuss continuing efforts in individual states to preserve collections important to the nation’s cultural and intellectual heritage held by archives, libraries, and historical societies. An important function of the conference was to provide the opportunity to describe successful examples of local and state initiatives, funding strategies, and methods to establish visibility for the preservation challenge. Additional sponsors for this broad-based conference were the National Archives and Records Administration, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators, the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, the Society of American Archivists, the American Association for State and Local History, the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, and the New York State Conservation/Preservation Program.

APPENDIX

DIRECTORS COMMITTEES AND STAFF

Commission on Preservation and Access

Millicent D. Abell University Librarian Yale University Herbert S. Bailey, Jr. (resigned 4/89) Director Emeritus Princeton University Press Patricia Battin President Commission on Preservation and Access Richard De Gennaro (elected 1/89) Director New York Public Library Billy E. Frye (Chair) Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Emory University James F. Govan University Librarian University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Vartan Gregorian President Brown University Kenneth R. R. Gros Louis Vice President Indiana University and Chancellor-Bloomington Warren J. Haas President Council on Library Resources Carole F. Huxley Deputy Commissioner for Cultural Education New York State Education Department Donald S. Lamm (elected 4/89) Chairman and President W.W. Norton Company Sidney Verba Director Harvard University Library William J. Welsh Deputy Librarian of Congress (retired)

National Advisory Council on Preservation

American Association for the Advancement of Science Karen B. Levitan American Council of Learned Societies John Howe American Library Association R. Gay Walker American Philosophical Association David A. Hoekema American Theological Libraries Association Albert E. Hurd Association of American Universities Neil L. Rudenstine Association of Research Libraries William J. Studer Center for Research Libraries Donald B. Simpson Chief Officers of State Library Agencies Barbara Weaver Independent Research Libraries Association Marcus A. McCorison Library of Congress Peter G. Sparks National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators Howard P. Lowell National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges Bernard C. Cohen National Commission on Libraries and Information Science Barbara H. Taylor National Endowment for the Humanities George F. Farr, Jr. National Library of Medicine Margaret M. Byrnes Research Libraries Advisory Committee (OCLC) J. Drew Racine Research Libraries Group Patricia A. McClung Social Science Research Council David L. Sills (resigned 12/88) David L. Szanton (beginning 1/89) Society of American Archivists Donn C. Neal

Scholarly Advisory Committee on Art History

Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann Professor, Institute of Fine Arts New York University Phyllis Bober Leslie Clark Professor in the Humanities Department of Archaeology Bryn Mawr College Richard Brilliant Professor, Department of Art History and Archaeology Columbia University Lorenz Eitner Director Stanford University Museum of Art Alan Fern Director National Portrait Gallery Larry Silver (Chair) Professor, Department of Art History Northwestern University Deirdre C. Stam Professor, School of Information Studies Syracuse University

Scholarly Advisory Committee on History

Margaret S. Child Assistant Director for Research Services Smithsonian Institution Libraries Larry J. Hackman Director New York State Archives and Records Administration John Howe (Chair) Interim Director University of Minnesota Libraries Anna Nelson Professor, Department of History Tulane university Emiliana P. Noether Professor of History Emerita University of Connecticut Mary Beth Norton Professor, Department of History Cornell University David H. Stam university Librarian Syracuse University

Scholarly Advisory Committee on Philosophy

Jo Ann Boydston Professor, Center for Dewey Studies Southern Illinois University Richard Burian Professor, Department of Philosophy Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Edwin Curley Professor, Department of Philosophy University of Illinois, Chicago Norman Kretzmann Professor, Sage School of Philosophy Cornell University John McDermott Professor, Department of Philosophy Texas A M University Jerome Schneewind (Chair) Professor, Department of Philosophy Johns Hopkins University Charles Young Professor, Department of Philosophy Claremont Graduate School

College Libraries Committee

Willis E. Bridegam Librarian of the College Amherst College Barbara J. Brown University Librarian Washington Lee University Joel Clemmer Library Director Macalester College David Cohen Director of Libraries College of Charleston Caroline M. Coughlin Library Director Drew University David A. Kearley University Librarian University of the South Jacquelyn M. Morris College Librarian Occidental College Kathleen Moretto Spencer (Chair) Library Director Franklin and Marshall College

Mid-Sized Research Libraries Committee

Dale Canelas Director of Libraries University of Florida Sheila Creth University Librarian University of Iowa Joan Gotwals Vice Provost and Director of Libraries Emory University C. Lee Jones President Mid-Atlantic Preservation Service Paula T. Kaufman (Chair) Dean of Libraries University of Tennessee Jan Merrill Oldham Head, Preservation Department University of Connecticut Thomas J. Michalak Associate Vice President, Academic Services and Director of Libraries Carnegie Mellon University Marilyn J. Sharrow University Librarian University of California, Davis David H. Stam University Librarian Syracuse University

Technology Assessment Advisory Committee

Rowland C. W. Brown (Chair) President OCLC (retired) Douglas van Houweling Vice Provost for Information Technologies University of Michigan Michael Lesk Division Manager, Computer Sciences Bellcore M. Stuart Lynn Vice President, Information Technologies Cornell University Robert Spinrad Director, Corporate Technology Xerox Corporation Robert L. Street Vice President for Information Resources Stanford University

Commission on Preservation and Access Staff

Patricia Battin President Pamela D. Block Administrative Assistant Rowland C. W. Brown Consultant Maxine K. Sitts (beginning 2/89) Program Officer Henry W. Riecken Senior Program Advisor Hans Rutimann Consultant Peter C. Winterble (resigned 12/88) Program Officer

RESOURCES AND PUBLICATIONS

July 1, 1988-June 30, 1989 Commission on Preservation and Access insert to CLR Reports 2, no. 2 (July 1988). Commission on Preservation and Access Newsletters: nos. 2-13 (July 1 988-June 1989). 1989 Commission on Preservation and Access Fact Sheet. Scholarly Resources in Art History: Issues in Preservation. Report of the Seminar, Spring Hill, Wayzata, Minnesota, September 29-October 1,1988. Washington, D.C.: Commission on Preservation and Access, 1989. Commission on Preservation and Access Brochure (May 1989). Commission on Preservation and Access Background Paper (May 1989). Battin, Patricia. “The Responsibility of Leadership: Making It Happen.” In Meeting the Preservation Challenge, edited by Jan Merrill-Oldham, 51-54. Washington, D.C.: Association of Research Libraries, 1988. “Endangered Species and Libraries: Collision, Collusion, or Collaboration?” In Scholarly Publishing–An Endangered Species. 8. Proceedings of the Tenth Annual Meeting of the Society for Scholarly Publishing, June 22-25, 1988, Boston, Massachusetts. Washington, D.C.: Society for Scholarly Publishing, 1989. Battin, Patricia, and Maxine Sitts. “Preservation of Great Book Collections.” Educational Record 70, no. 2 (Spring 1989): 54-55.

Financial Statements


Published by the Commission on Preservation and Access
1400 16th Street, NW, Suite 740 Washington, DC 20036-2217 (202) 939-3400 September 1989 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. Additional copies of this annual report are available at no cost.       Return to CLIR Home Page >>