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CPA Annual Report: 1989 – 1990

Annual Report
July 1, 1989 – June 30, 1990

September 1990


Reports and Publications, July 1, 1989 – June 30, 1990
Committees and Task Forces
Board of Directors and Staff


Financial support for Commission activities came from many sources during 1989-90. On behalf of the academic and research community, we express our thanks to:


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


Amherst College
Brown University
Bryn Mawr College
University of California, Davis
University of California, Los Angeles
University of California, San Diego
University of California, Santa Barbara
University of Chicago
Cornell University
Emory University
Franklin and Marshall College
Hamilton College
Harvard University
Haverford College
Johns Hopkins University
Indiana University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota
Mount Holyoke College
New York Public Library
New York State Library
Northwestern University
Ohio State University
University of Oregon
Princeton University
Smith College
Swarthmore College
Syracuse University
University of Texas, Austin
Vassar College
University of Washington
Washington University
Wellesley College
Wesleyan University
Williams College


During the last twelve months, after years of steady research, planning, and consciousness-raising, the preservation community embarked upon a hugely ambitious and multifaceted initiative led by the National Endowment for the Humanities’ (NEH) Office of Preservation. New federal funding enabled the NEH to assume responsibility for managing a major comprehensive effort to preserve more than three million brittle documents–books, journals, newspapers, manuscripts–over a twenty-year period, thus implementing the Commission’s primary objective as defined by the library community and articulated in the seminal report, Brittle Books: Reports of the Committee on Preservation and Access (Washington, DC: Council on Library Resources, 1986). In keeping with the Commission’s mission of catalyst and matrix, of providing an ordered place for existing components and seeking to supply the elements required to fill the gaps, our activities this past year reflected new initiatives to complement the expanded NEH program and to explore the implications of emerging correlative issues as we pushed beyond the constraints of the past to the challenge of new obstacles and the promise of new frontiers.

Welcome evidence of the growing institutional base for preservation activities is reflected in the latest statistics published by the Association of Research Libraries. In 1978, 5 member libraries had preservation programs; in 1983, there were 18, and by 1989, 107 libraries reported a total of 1,620 staff involved in a variety of preservation activities. In addition, many college libraries and a host of archival institutions now report at least part-time responsibility assigned to one or more staff members.

The transition of preservation activity from a cottage industry based on single-item salvation to the management of a comprehensive mass production strategy stimulated the consideration of a broad range of unprecedented choices and costly options. That process inexorably led to a recognition that we must broaden our definition of the preservation function from a narrow technical conception to one embracing those strategies and actions necessary to provide access to the accumulated human record as far into the future as possible. The preservation function–the stewardship of the accumulated knowledge base–represents the central obligation of librarianship. The visible intrinsic obsolescence of electronic storage media and access to hard- and software now forces us to confront, at the point of acquisition, our primary responsibility for ensuring access to future generations, a responsibility obscured for generations by the long life cycle of the book. The activities of the Technology Assessment Advisory Committee during the past year have sharpened our perceptions and heightened a pervasive uneasiness lurking in the minds of many librarians, archivists, and scholars as we concentrated our efforts on redressing the deterioration of the past. In essence, our preservation activities must encompass not only a massive retrospective effort focused on the special problems of the printed document but the design of effective strategies for access to electronically generated, stored, and disseminated knowledge far into the future. Each process can and must inform the other so that within our finite resources, we preserve the largest proportion possible of the human record while simultaneously ensuring continuing convenient access.

Many of the activities pursued by the Commission during this past year reflect this enhanced perception. In addition to the fundamental concepts addressed by the technology Assessment Advisory Committee and highlighted in this report, our Scholarly Advisory Committees wrestled with questions of disciplinary requirements influenced by the continuing scholarly use of technology, with selection decisions requiring a thoughtful examination of disciplinary interests and future directions, and with considerations of the emerging and affordable range of possibilities for storage, dissemination, and use. The Task Force on Preservation Education sought to analyze and define the educational programs needed to prepare individuals to meet the immediate need–the management of the massive brittle book initiative. At the same time, librarians and archivists must be equipped to manage the collective knowledge base of the future–a body of knowledge composed of many formats and media, with diverse ownership, location, and retrieval arrangements. This same confluence was also manifest in the International Project, as new political realities in Europe stimulated a heightened awareness of the importance and promise of cooperative strategies for enhancing access to knowledge on a hitherto unprecedented scale. Driven by the concern for the heritage of the past and an urgent recognition of the radically altered environment of the future, librarians and archivists around the world signalled their commitment to improving the quality of paper, mounting microfilming programs in a cooperative context, implementing compatible minimal mechanisms for the exchange of bibliographic information of preserved items, and exploring new applications of technology within a global, rather than stand-alone, context.

The range of activities, concerns, and participants described in this report provides a striking reflection of the fabric of preservation–a complex mosaic of seemingly dissimilar warps and woofs bound together by a passionate commitment to the preservation of a vibrant cultural heritage accessible to all citizens.

The preservation community has embarked on a monumental undertaking–visibility is high, funding is substantial but insufficient, the circle of participants has been broadly extended, and with each new accomplishment comes another challenge. The plate is full, and the goal is distant. What lies between us and our desired achievement are years of concentrated, consolidated efforts coupled with a steady and continuing willingness to reexamine our assumptions in the light of new knowledge and new capabilities for information storage, dissemination, and use. We are heartened by the expansion of our sponsoring group from 17 institutions to 36 and by the stimulating response from our constituency at three regional meetings held during the year. In the next year, we intend to undertake, with the assistance of an external advisory committee, a broad assessment of the status of preservation activities and an evaluation of the impact of the Commission’s first five years in order to inform the activities of the next five years, should it be the conclusion that our catalytic role is still important to the cause.

Although this report must necessarily focus on the activities of the Commission on Preservation and Access, it once again is gratefully dedicated to the thousands of preservation activists and those funding agencies, both public and private, whose sustained efforts and generous support are essential to our collaborative success.

Patricia Battin, President


When assessing the probable impact of new electronic information technologies on national and, increasingly, international preservation efforts, it is important that we do so in the broader context of virtually all aspects of scholarly communication. Just as libraries are making parallel inquiries into the impact of technologies on many of their activities–collection management, building space and off-site storage, resource sharing, and user access to electronic publications and reference services–so are publishers, scholars, campus computing and information centers, networks, and others involved in the creation, dissemination, and use of information rethinking their requirements and options in the light of these developments.

In the next decade this broad community will find itself engulfed in a transition at an accelerated pace from what has been for centuries a long-established, print-on-paper-based environment to one in which electronic-based technologies may well dominate or at least share significantly and be integrated with our traditional print options.

In developing its agenda for the preservation effort, the Technology Assessment Advisory Committee (TAAC) has from its inception operated within the broader conceptual and strategic framework just described. That is to say, it operates on the premise that to a large measure the effective use of the new capture, storage, transmission, and user interface technologies for deteriorated print materials requiring reformatting will coincide with achievements in implementing these technologies for interlibrary lending, access strategies to alleviate storage limitations, and publishing and dissemination.

TAAC unanimously determined at the first of its three meetings this past year that its most effective contributions to the Commission, beyond ongoing technology assessment, would be twofold. One would be the preparation of a series of analytic and conceptual papers. The other would be the identification, development, and support of meaningful research and/or demonstration projects to assist in establishing the technical and economic feasibility of applying various technological innovations in addressing the capture of, storage of, and access to materials requiring preservation.

One series of papers will explore the state of development, scope, and impact of various areas of technology other than those related to deacidification and paper strengthening. The first of these reports, entitled Image Formats for Preservation and Access, was written by Michael Lesk, a member of TAAC and Division Manager, Computer Science Research, Bellcore. Reflecting the views of the entire committee, the report acknowledges that microfilming has been accepted as the primary means of reformatting preservation copy, that film has a well-established archival life measured in centuries when maintained under proper conditions, that there is in place in the library environment substantial access to microfilm and microfiche readers, and that continual improvements in film and optics technology are taking place. On the other hand, digital imagery is a promising alternative process that not only provides significant advantages but is improving at a rapid rate. Digital imagery not only allows for the capture of the image with faithful reproduction and high definition, but it also facilitates storage in multiple forms and the rapid transfer of the image by page or volume from one library to another in a manner much simpler and faster than copying microfilm.

A basic premise of the committee, reflected in the report, is that the primary expense of salvaging the information contained or represented in a deteriorating book is in the selection process and the labor-intensive initial handling and quality control of its capture in another medium, whether film or digital. The process of a subsequent conversion from one medium to another is relatively straightforward, the cost relatively minor, and the equipment commercially available. The report acknowledges that the handling of digital images still requires special skills and equipment few libraries possess, but points out that these will be within the reach of most libraries within a decade. In relation to current strategies and efforts, the committee concludes that because microfilm-to-digital conversion or the reverse can be readily achieved whenever it is desired, librarians should use either method and can manage with the expectation of ultimately converting to a digital form over the next decade because of the advantages it will offer, particularly in access. Postponing microfilming while digital alternatives continue to develop and become more readily applicable is only likely to be frustrating and allow for further deterioration of the paper original.

A second in this series of technology assessments will address the rapidly developing telecommunication technologies and networks that are expected to vastly improve access to digitally stored materials from one library or center to another. Its principal author is Douglas van Houweling, a member of TAAC and Vice Provost for Information Technologies at the University of Michigan, who is deeply involved in the operation of campus and regional networks and is one of the principals in the development of the National Research and Educational Network (NREN). This report will explore the implications of high-speed and high-capacity networks to gain access to preserved materials in the future as fewer and fewer copies of these endangered print materials will exist in libraries and as reliance on access to remotely stored preservation copies becomes essential. This report is expected to be published during the next year.

The technology of recording human information is constantly changing, so we’re never going to be done with the preservation challenge. I think our magnetic media–video and computer–are going to be the “brittle books” of the next fifty years…. We’re always going to have to re-record the human word, just like the monks who had to copy over the classic texts….

Carolyn Clark Morrow, Harvard University’s first Malloy-Rabinowitz
Preservation Librarian, as quoted in the Harvard Gazette, Oct. 20, 1989, p.10

Other topics that the Commission has recommended to TAAC for inclusion in this series include optical character recognition, microfilm-to-digital and digital-to-microfilm conversion, display technologies, and searching retrieval.

In a second series of publications, TAAC is dealing with the conceptual framework of the application of these new technologies and their strategic implications, given the various social and economic conditions under which they will be implemented.

The first of these papers, to be published at the end of the summer of 1990, is in the form of a glossary of technical terms relevant to the emerging preservation and access technologies. The report was prepared primarily by Stuart Lynn, a member of TAAC and Vice President, Information Technologies at Cornell University, in collaboration with the entire committee. The report was written to contribute to a broader, shared understanding among library, computer, and information technology professionals of terms used in the preservation and digital computer fields.

A second purpose of the paper is to further an understanding of the conceptual changes that result from moving from an environment in which paper remains the same medium for capture (creation and recording), storage, access, distribution, and use to a new technological environment in which different electronic alternatives to paper exist for each of these purposes.

As pointed out earlier, the use of digital technologies has implications for libraries and others in the process of scholarly communication that extend far beyond the boundaries of preservation of and access to preserved materials. Even as we gain a better understanding and appreciation of the nature and implications of the new technologies, it is incumbent upon the scholarly communication community, and particularly libraries, to reexamine the ways that users gain access to library resources or would like to gain access to the resources that might become available. This reexamination would be preferable to relying on longstanding assumptions that may approach a mythology regarding shelf browsing and the effectiveness of traditional cataloging for locating appropriate materials, particularly in growing fields of interdisciplinary research.

In the future, TAAC will explore the profound changes expected to arise from the extremely accelerated development of these new technologies –changes that may drastically shorten the life cycles that have long been part of the print and conventional library and collection management environment. The committee also plans to explore an anticipated evolutionary transition from what can be characterized as “batch processing” in the print publication and collection operation of the library to a “continuous processing” environment, to draw upon terms used in the computer and industrial world. These concepts and their economic and organizational implications, which are quite familiar to the world of digital electronic and information processing, normally have not been a part of the thinking in libraries and academic institutions. They will undoubtedly have a profound impact on the structure, organization, and funding of libraries and on the publication of and access to information in the electronic world.

A further area of suggested inquiry for TAAC, but one that involves consideration and action by the entire scholarly communication community, is the preservation and archival requirements and responsibilities for the rapidly emerging electronic publications themselves, and the particular problems of capturing the creative trail in the creation of a work in this medium, as well as the increasing use of a dynamic text or document.

While the task of exploring these implications creates a tremendous challenge for TAAC, it is one which its members are addressing with enthusiasm, together with library and information science leaders who are generously assisting in these efforts.

The second main area of activity for TAAC is the identification, development, and support of demonstration projects. In June 1990, Cornell University, the Xerox Corporation, and the Commission announced a major collaborative project to test procedures for recording deteriorating books as digital images and producing–on demand –multiple high-quality copies. The 18-month research and development study includes scanning 1,000 volumes in Cornell’s Olin Library into a digital image storage system. Both the Library and Information Technologies units at Cornell University are involved in the project. The project will demonstrate digital-image scanning of selected segments of Cornell monographs for preservation, electronic storage, and production of high-speed, print-on-demand paper volumes of at least comparable quality to the original through a networked environment on the campus and ultimately with other collaborating libraries on other campuses. TAAC is continuing to explore other research and/or demonstration projects for potential Commission support. All in all, we believe it has been a productive year that has set the stage for an even more active future. The members of the committee are indebted to the members and staff of the Commission and to the many librarians, preservation specialists, and others who have reviewed materials and supplied us with suggestions and critical evaluation. We also are grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its financial support of our work.

Rowland C Brown, Consultant; Chair,
Technology Assessment Advisory Committee



Books, along with other paper-based materials, are literally turning to dust because of the chemically unstable acid-based paper that became popular in the mid-1800s. For several decades, the higher education community, although deeply concerned, was uncertain of how to combat this self-destruction of valuable library and archival resources. In the 1 960s, researchers began to conduct a series of investigations of the causes of book deterioration, spearheaded in large part by the Council on Library Resources (CLR).

In ensuing years, a number of organizations representing universities, scholars, and the publishing industry met regularly to delineate what became known as the brittle books” agenda. In the mid-1980s, a consensus was reached: It called for the formation of a commission to be charged specifically with coordinating collaborative, nationwide efforts for preserving the contents of embrittled research collections. The commission itself would remain small and flexible, working primarily with and through existing and concerned institutions.

In 1986, the master plan for the development and operation of such a commission was published: Brittle Books, Reports of the Committee on Preservation and Access (Washington, DC: CLR). After two years of operation under the auspices of CLR, the Commission on Preservation and Access was incorporated in the District of Columbia on July 1, 1988, as a public charity under the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt provision of the Internal Revenue Service Code. The Commission completed its second year as an independent, private, nonprofit corporation on June 30, 1990.


Bylaws call for the Commission to foster, develop 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 our intellectual and cultural heritage.” Fundamental goals are (l ) Preservation, on microfilm or other archival media, of the contents of deteriorating printed materials so that critical portions of the human record will not be lost to future generations; (2) Conservation, where appropriate, of the book as an artifact; (3) Creation of a means of access to preserved materials through a centralized storage and retrieval facility, so that information now available only in a single location in fragile form will be universally available in a variety of formats; (4) Institutionalization of the preservation process in libraries and archives; and (5) The use of non-acid paper for publications of enduring value.


The Commission operates with an elected governing board of 13 directors that meets quarterly, a national advisory council of representatives of 22 organizations that meets annually, a staff of four, and three consultants. Board changes during the year included:

  • Election of Henriette Avram, Associate Librarian for Collections Services, Library of Congress, in September 1989.
  • Reelection of Billy Frye as chairman, in July 1989.
  • Reelection of Millicent Abell and Patricia Battin as Board members, in July 1989.

Board members serve for three-year terms; the chairman serves a one-year term.

The National Advisory Council on Preservation (NACP), comprising individuals designated by library, academic, governmental, and scholarly organizations, focused on four issues during its annual meeting on November 13, 1989, in Washington, DC: technologies with potential for providing wider access to preserved materials, copyright implications of the nationwide preservation effort, repair as an alternative to microfilming, and centralized storage and distribution services.

Staff increased by one during the year, when the Communications Program added an assistant, Patricia Cece, in February 1990. The addition enabled Administrative Assistant Pamela Block to devote more time to the growing number of grant-funded special projects. Michael Miller, an intern from the Rutgers School of Communication, Information and Library Studies, worked with Commission staff from mid-May to mid-June to earn credit for Field Experience in the school’s MLS program. The Appendix includes listings of board and NACP members, staff members, and consultants.


The Commission will work on behalf of the libraries and organizations that must, in the end, do the work of preservation. Simultaneously, it must be an effective agent for all who will ultimately provide financial and intellectual support. In a sense, the Commission is seen as the matrix for this preservation activity, providing an ordered place for existing components and seeking to supply the elements required to fill the gaps….

from Brittle Books, Reports of the Committee on Preservation and
Access, p. 12

An expanded base of involved participants supported Commission activities during 1989-90. An initial core of 17 universities and libraries was enlarged to 35 institutions (36 as of July 1990), pledging three years of support to collaborative preservation efforts. Institutional sponsors were invited to one of three town meetings held in Chicago (November 1989), New York City (January 1990), and Berkeley, CA (July 1990), where participants discussed coordinated strategies for preservation and the interaction of national-level activities with state, regional, corporate, and local institutional activities. The town meetings also provided sponsors with opportunities to suggest specific projects that would benefit their preservation programs. Two sponsor-initiated suggestions–information on preserving video recordings and assistance with local fund raising for preservation–were developed into publications by the Communications Program.

In addition, the Commission received continued general-purpose grant support from the Council on Library Resources and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and special project grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Getty Grant Program.


Three areas were highlighted for action during the year:

  • Integration of archives into nationally coordinated preservation efforts
  • Exploration of preservation education and training needs and priorities
  • Targeted examinations of research and scientific needs of preservation specialists Continuing initiatives:
  • Investigations into the use of emerging technologies for preservation and access needs
  • Support of the nationwide Brittle Books microfilming program
  • Inquiries by scholars into the selection of materials for preservation
  • Coordination of an international, compatible, machine-readable database capacity for sharing of preservation records
  • Assimilation and institutionalization of preservation into the daily life of libraries and archives
  • Improvement in the quality of materials used for publications of enduring value


The impact of acid paper on literary, historical, and governmental archives far exceeds the dimensions of the brittle books challenge. A,though more than sixty percent of all archives are located within libraries, there are many other collections throughout the country containing irreplaceable materials documenting the record of our culture. In many instances, the concerns of archivists coincide with those of librarians–environmental controls, paper chemistry, uses of emerging technology, professional education, and management of preservation, for example. Based on the assumption that concern for all documents on deteriorating paper is implicit in the brittle books effort, the Commission verified that archival interests were represented in its existing projects and activities.

But there are also a number of striking differences between book and archival collections that present new preservation and access challenges. A large proportion of archival documents are unique and not amenable to cooperative selection and microfilming projects in the same manner as brittle books. A nationally standardized bibliographic control system only recently has been developed for archival material, and since most collections include artifacts, maps, photographs, and other cultural records in addition to paper documents, the box has served as the primary means of access and retrieval. Consequently, reformatting must be accompanied by new access mechanisms and retrieval systems at additional cost.

Recognizing the need for a new level of coordination among traditionally autonomous organizations, the Commission began working with archival organizations to assist in developing a nationwide strategy for archives preservation. As a first step, the Commission helped to sponsor a planning meeting of the SAA Task Force on Preservation. The group met at Commission headquarters on March 28, 1990, to review the document, “Preserving History’s Future” (SAA Newsletter, January 1990), identify projects for immediate action, and draft a three-year plan for presentation at SAA’s annual meeting in August 1990.

The Commission also added the members of the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators (NAGARA) and the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) to its mailing list to receive newsletters and other publications on a regular basis.

Preservation, especially preservation of state archival records or the information they contain, should be one of our highest continuing nationwide priorities.

NAGARA Government Records Issues, Series No. 2, State Government
Records Programs: A Proposed National Agenda, November 1989



In a climate of expanding options, specialists recognize the value of developing collaborative methods for maintaining current awareness of the scientific research results relevant to the preservation profession. Priorities and possible action plans for a shared research agenda were addressed by several preservation specialists during an October 30, 1989, meeting sponsored by the Commission and held at the request of the Preservation of Library Materials Section (PLMS) of the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services, American Library Association.

Identified as a basic initial need was a more coordinated knowledge base of current and past research related to preservation activities. Of particular concern was an apparent lack of communication among key constituencies: libraries, archives, conservation, and science. To assist in establishing stronger linkages, the Commission contacted several major organizations and laboratories working in a major research priority area–longevity and fragility of paper, adhesives, and other materials used in the production of books. A resulting Directory: Information Sources on Scientific Research Related to the Preservation of Books, Paper, and Adhesives was distributed widely to concerned communities.

Another identified priority is research on the effects of environmental conditions–temperature, humidity, pollutants–on paper deterioration and aging. The Commission contracted with conservation scientist Donald K. Sebera to prepare a report on the isoperm method, which can be used to predict the relative permanence of paper-based library and archival collections stored at various temperature and relative humidity levels. The report is scheduled for fall 1990 publication.

Mold control and eradication, including dangers from natural disasters, the acquisition of mold-infested collections, and local climatic conditions, also was identified as a major area of concern, as was the composition of modern adhesive binding used in commercial library binderies. Upon further investigation, it was determined that adequate information is available on mold control and that research is under way on adhesives.


Increased preservation microfilming of a widening variety of scholarly materials by the Brittle Books program has created a need for increased filming efficiency and flexibility. To support advances in these areas, the Commission has contracted for a series of research and demonstration projects.

TEXT AND IMAGE. Research to support the use of microfilm for preservation of text-cum-image materials was supported by the Getty Grant Program, as part of a $254,000 grant announced in November 1989. To gather data beyond what manufacturers provide, the Commission contracted with the Image Permanence Institute (IPI), Rochester (NY) Institute of Technology, to conduct a two-year project exploring the rate at which color film fades at room temperature and the effect of changes in storage humidity and temperature on the rate of dark fading. In initial examinations of Cibachrome film on polyester base, IPI discovered that the dyes are more stable than the base after accelerated aging for extended time periods. Based on these findings, the lab will expand its research to compare Cibachrome and chromogenic microfilm. In addition to measuring the dye fading and stain growth, researchers also will evaluate the base properties determined by tensile strength and acidity measurements. A second Getty-sponsored microfilm project is being conducted under a contract with the Mid-Atlantic Preservation Service (MAPS), Bethlehem, PA. The one-year demonstration will explore the possibilities of color microfilm and continuous-tone black-and-white microfilm for materials containing images and text.

PRODUCTION-LEVEL FILMING. Advances in technology for high-speed preservation microfilming were explored in two research-and-development projects completed by MAPS in early 1990. Although costs remained too high to be supportable for standard operations, the development of specifications for a composing reducing camera (CRC) led researchers to conclude that the concept remains viable. The specifications are for a special CRC capable of digitizing 35mm films, producing film in different formats (roll and fiche), copying film to paper, and creating CD-ROM products. The second R&D project, which involved a prototype “densities on the fly” unit, concluded with the unit in a preliminary stage of operation but requiring more fine-tuning before use in full production mode. This unit collects density data as film exits a film processor, taking many readings from each frame to ensure a high degree of accuracy. Production advantages are significant for both cost reduction and improved film quality.

Research into the use of 105mm microfiche for production-level preservation concluded that fiche offers some interesting alternatives, but that 35mm currently is viewed as the format of choice for preservation filming. The research, conducted by MAPS under contract with the Commission and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, included projects over a period of three months using a step and repeat camera (105mm). Materials tested included flat items, those requiring use of a book cradle, and those in a relatively fragile state. Projects enabled MAPS to test the production of archival quality 105mm film and to investigate procedures for inspection and handling. Researchers concluded that a step and repeat camera is unforgiving” when it comes to retakes, and that practical solutions are possible, but they must be defined in the context of a production environment.” An unexpected finding from the project was that very few fiche envelope enclosures passed the Photographic Activity Test, which indicates whether a particular enclosure is likely to have a negative effect on the film enclosed.

How can librarians and archivists most effectively apply the results of scientific research in various disciplines to the specific problems associated with the longevity of paper and other media used to record human knowledge and creativity?

from the introduction to the Directory: Information Sources on
Scientific Research
… published in March 1990 by the Commission


Research under a 1988 contract to the Research Libraries Group, Inc., (RLG) to investigate scanning and automatic format recognition (AFR) technology for conversion of preservation search tools continued into 1989-90. Optiram Automation Ltd., London, was identified as the only company currently with a system that might be capable of dealing with the complexities of library catalog records. The contract called for a pilot project to determine if that company’s proprietary scanning technology could convert bibliographic records into machine-readable form. The tests focused on the ability of Optiram’s technology to scan and convert into MARC format records reflecting a wide range of cataloging practices and card formats. Researchers concluded that the combination of scanning and AFR is not yet viable for adding to the machine-readable store of records of microform masters.


The large numbers of materials at risk from deterioration guarantee that future librarians and archivists will be presiding over vast collections requiring long-term care and attention if they are to be preserved for the use of scholars and information seekers. But preservation is not a problem in isolation; it must be addressed in the context of other managerial issues. As the number and complexity of preservation programs increase, so do the needs for new kinds of knowledge and understanding. Because the incorporation of preservation into the library school curriculum is an essential first step in preparing prospective preservation-conscious leaders, the Commission identified professional education as a major initiative for 1989-90. What educational requirements are necessary to enable librarians and archivists, in every aspect of their work, to ensure the preservation of knowledge? What types of analytical and intellectual skills will be needed by future managers to be successful in their stewardship obligations? What are the specific implications of these questions for the professional education curriculum?

To address such issues, the Commission convened a Task Force on Preservation Education in January 1990. Based upon recommendations of an October 1988 meeting of library administrators, preservation specialists, educators, and foundation representatives, the task force of six educators was asked to explore in some detail the current status of preservation education, the projected requirements for the next decade, and the ways in which existing programs can be strengthened and expanded to meet new preservation challenges.

At its initial meeting in January, the task force worked through an interpretation of its areas of investigation: Preservation would be viewed in the broadest sense of library/archives stewardship, including management, preservation, and provision of resources. The needs of all types of libraries would be considered, so long as their mission involved stewardship of materials of national significance. The group emphasized the importance of incorporating the archival community into its work.

Within library schools, the task force would work to instill an awareness of preservation in all relevant areas of the curriculum, rather than concentrating on training for preservation specialists. The task force agreed that national preservation interests could best be served by adding to library school curricula so that every student is provided with an understanding of preservation, and so that administrators are able to make intelligent choices regarding their stewardship mission.

An April meeting was devoted to preparing for a second Commission-sponsored activity, a Preservation Institute for Library Educators to be held in August 1990. For this event, the Commission contracted with the School of Library and Information Science at The Catholic university of America. The institute was seen as a first step toward introducing library educators to the progress made in preservation and in integrating preservation into library schools. Leaders in preservation, university library directors, and library educators invited to attend would be expected to generate alternative ways of giving preservation its proper place in a library school curriculum, as well as to identify courses that would be likely candidates for a preservation component. Attendance by diverse constituents also would provide opportunities for discussions of library directors’ expectations of library school graduates, future career prospects for preservation specialists, and the need for educators to add preservation into general courses. At the years conclusion, the institute was scheduled for August 2-4 at Wye Plantation, MD. The Commission s funding for the institute was made possible by general support funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Another Commission education activity–management training for college preservation staff–is covered in the Institutional Programs section of this report.

… It is important that preservation be considered [by library educators] at the highest levels, and then looked at in terms of the requirements of different types of libraries and archives.

from background paper prepared for Preservation Institute for Library


During 1989-90, the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Office of Preservation, as part of its expanded national preservation effort, accelerated the pace of its Brittle Books program, while the Commission moved ahead with a projected series of complementary initiatives. The Commission continued to provide forums for discussion of issues resulting from the full operation of the federal program.

The Brittle Books mandate calls for cost-effective, rapid access to preserved materials and separate storage of master negatives and printing masters. The Commission investigated options for libraries to meet those requirements, looking in particular at the concept of a centralized collection of preservation microfilms and shared distribution and access services that could be used voluntarily by libraries. To obtain background data, the Commission conducted an informal survey of 13 institutions engaged in preservation microfilming. A special report, “The Concept of a Central Collection of Preservation Microfilms” (July 1990 Newsletter), concluded that the current distribution and storage systems are not likely to result in lower costs and improved services as the filming volume increases.

Support for the concept of centralized services came from the College Libraries Committee, whose members need expedited access to preserved materials, and from the Southeastern Library Network, Inc. (SOLINET), which was starting a cooperative microfilming project involving 12 libraries that will soon require storage and distribution facilities.

Commission regional meetings provided opportunities for librarians and NEH representatives to discuss funding for local repair, and a special report, “Brittle Books: Legislative History, Future Directions,” was published in the March 1990 Newsletter to provide background on the original intent of the federal program.

A substantial report on the implications of copyright for the national preservation microfilming program was drafted by Robert L. Oakley, Director of the Law Library at Georgetown University Law Center, under a contract with the Commission. The report was drafted to provide a professional, extensive analysis of current copyright law and to lay out in detail a number of alternatives that could be taken on the part of the nationwide preservation program to assure an appropriate balance between copyright protection and the public interest in convenient access. The report also describes the constraints and opportunities for subsequent use of microfilm master copies through sale, loan, or electronic transmission. After review by Commission members, the report was being prepared for general distribution at the year’s end.

The NEH has done far more than provide funds for preserving brittle
books. It has served as a forum for discussing, developing, and
evaluating strategies and collaborative mechanisms for a decentralized
program activity….

From statement of Commission Board member James Govan, University

Librarian, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, on the Fiscal Year

1991 Appropriation for NEH, before the Subcommittee on the Interior and

Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. House of
Representatives, ay 3, 1990

The readiness of commercial micropublishers to meet the standards of the Brittle Books program was another area for investigation. The Commission contracted in August 1989 with the Special Committee on the Preservation Needs of Law Libraries of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) to conduct a pretest of a survey of micropublishers. Under that contract, two staff members from the Harvard Law Library Preservation Department made site visits to seven micropublishers representing 11 companies, to test a comprehensive survey covering microform production and quality control, storage of first-generation master negative film, storage containers and enclosures, and inspection of stored first-generation negatives. A project report on the pretest is being prepared. The final survey form, to be developed jointly by AALL and the Research Libraries Group (RLG) Preservation Committee, will be ser.t to commercial publishers across the country and throughout the world. In addition to gathering information on commercial filming practices, the survey also will acquaint micropublishers with national-level preservation needs and requirements.

In 1989-90–as in past years–the Commission, along with the National Humanities Alliance and the Association of Research Libraries, cosponsored testimony in support of continued Congressional funding for NEH’s preservation program. The May 1990 testimony by James Govan, University Librarian, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, highlighted the Endowment’s leadership in establishing and expanding its Office of Preservation over the past five years, as well as the benefits accruing to universities from the ongoing federal program. The testimony recounted that support from the Office of Preservation has enabled universities to develop sophisticated long-range plans and to garner support from other sectors for their preservation activities. The statement called attention to the need to build upon the Brittle Books program and develop a companion strategy for the preservation problems of the nation’s archives–one of the Commission’s new action areas. The testimony also included a request for a 10 percent increase in Congressional funding to be used specifically for repair of items unintentionally damaged during filming.

Vartan Gregorian, President of Brown University, also testified on behalf of NEH in April 1990, reflecting views of the nation’s scholars: In saving our nation’s and humanity’s heritage from the ravages of acid paper and time, the NEH is not only rescuing that heritage but also is democratizing that heritage and making it accessible to scholars and the general public throughout the nation and the rest of the world….” At the request of Senator Claiborne Pell, the Commission later entered additional information on collaborative preservation initiatives into the record of the testimony. [April 5, 1990, testimony in support of NEH before the Senate Subcommittee on Education, Arts, and Humanities, Committee on Labor and Human Resources.]


The Brittle Books program is a 20-year cooperative undertaking operated by the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Office of Preservation to microfilm 3.3 million embrittled books, saving information that would otherwise be lost due to the deterioration of acid-based paper in the nation’s research collections. In addition to saving a substantial core of scholarly materials, the program also seeks to improve individual and institutional access to these materials through inexpensive, rapid distribution systems. The Library of Congress and more than 40 libraries are now collaborating in the effort.

In fiscal year 1989, Congress provided the Office of Preservation with a substantial budget increase–from $4.5 million to $12.33 million. In August 1989, the Endowment announced $15 million in new grants for projects to preserve books, newspapers, monographs, and other resources for scholarly research, as well as education and training, regional preservation services, and research and development. When completed, the projects from this one year’s grants will preserve the knowledge in over 167,000 embrittled volumes that otherwise would be lost.

Federal support for preservation also is available under Title II-C funding through the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Library Programs/Office of Educational Research and Improvement. From 1978 through 1989, over $13,800,000 of Title lI-C’s total funding (20 percent) has gone for preservation projects, and in 1989, the importance of preservation was highlighted in the program’s guidelines.


There are not enough resources, human or material, to preserve the contents of all the millions of volumes that are threatened by embrittlement in the next decade. This fact alone makes it essential to design a careful and thoughtful selection process, but its importance is heightened by the experience of preservation so far–namely, that selection accounts for a major share of the cost of preserving an item. Accordingly, any principle or guideline that could expedite or simplify selection would make the process cheaper and more efficient, with the end result that a greater share of the deteriorating collections would be saved.

While there is as yet no simple and sovereign principle to guide selection, it is clear that some judgment must be made about the probable intellectual or cultural value of the books that are to be chosen for microfilming or other reformatting. Such a judgment is difficult to make, even daunting, especially to scholars and experts in the field of knowledge represented in the book. The more one knows about a field, it seems, the more one is likely to recoil initially from the responsibility of making a “life or death” decision about the contents of a volume. Yet a moment’s reflection leads even the most conscientious expert to realize that failure to make the awful judgment is itself a choice–a decision to leave the matter to chance or to others who may be less expert.

The Commission’s view has been that the selection process must incorporate the judgments of both scholars and librarians, for each group brings a distinctive perspective, and both are essential to achieving the ultimate goal. There is growing evidence that the kinds of materials scholars need will vary from field to field. Historians, for example, depend heavily on newspapers, which are of little interest to philosophers. As a means of focusing scholars’ participation, and with the assistance of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Commission has begun to establish a series of Scholarly Advisory Committees in several fields of learning. The earliest committees formed were in History, Philosophy, and Art History. This year a committee in Modern Language and Literature has begun to work, and in addition, the Commission has assisted the Medieval Academy of America to begin planning for the preservation of materials in Medieval Studies. A full list of the membership of the Commission’s committees can be found at the end of this annual report.

The committees have been charged to consider how scholars in each field use library materials in study and research, what types or genres of books and journals are likely to remain of greatest importance (and of least importance), and to identify any strategies that could inform the selection-for-preservation process and make it more effective for the needs of future scholars. Confronted with such a tabula rasa and aware of the diversity of efforts in their own fields (as well as possessed of an appropriate modesty about their capacity to foresee the needs of their successors), the Scholarly Advisory Committees have progressed carefully. Some have had only one meeting so far; others have met more often. It would be premature to report conclusions here, though some insights into selection are clear enough and interesting in themselves.

In Modern Language and Literature, for example, the Committee has expressed the tentative view that it may be unnecessary to make special provision for the widely read and studied “classics”, the so-called canon of literature. These works, the Committee believes, are so widely studied and used that their contents will continue to be preserved by reprinting. The major works of Hawthorne, Melville, and Whitman will not be lost to scholarship or to the reading public.

Even so, the number of works that fall within the reach of literary scholarship is vast, and it will be difficult to prescribe specific guidelines for the preservation of the most important works. Scholars, who are accustomed to evaluating and using one or a few related works at a time, find it particularly frustrating to deal with the massive size of the preservation problem. Quite clearly, a title-by-title approach to selection is out of the question for reasons of time and human resources. Categorical judgments beyond the most obvious are hard to make and unsatisfying to scholars. Yet some grouping of to-be-preserved items seems essential. One appealing strategy for many areas is the “great collections” approach. The best known and most esteemed collections of the great research university libraries incorporate the judgment of earlier generations of scholars and bibliographers who shaped the collections. Their judgments were not infallible, to be sure, but cumulatively they may represent the best estimate of what was quality at the time the volumes were added. And for that reason, the strategy of filming entire collections or definable chunks of them may turn out in the end to be most practical and most efficient even if some items of low worth come to be included among the preserved.

The Scholarly Advisory Committees in both history and philosophy identified bodies of material that did not need to be saved in their entirety, but could, for research purposes, be represented by a sample of works. For example, the historians opined that not all of the very numerous memoirs of Civil War veterans need to be reformatted, though some representative accounts surely should be saved. Likewise, philosophers came to the view that the very large body of Victorian ” moral philosophy” was inherently redundant and could be sampled for preservation.

Art historians work with illustrated monographs, periodicals, exhibition catalogs, sales catalogs, and corpora–sources that other disciplines do not have or do not use so extensively. Illustrated guidebooks and other descriptive accounts of buildings, monuments, and archaeological sites also provide invaluable information even though one might not esteem them as great literature. And art historians have only a mild interest in most of the “art books” that decorate coffee tables and home libraries, although their illustrations are often the best available in print.

Think about it: what are the essential books, periodicals, original titles that you most consult? … In America, even in Europe, which libraries would you go to first to answer the questions you cannot answer at home? … If scholars and users of art historical material do not respond, then these difficult decisions will be made by others with different needs and different criteria. Future generations depend upon us today….

from ‘The Problem That Will Not Go Away,” a presentation by Dr. Larry
Silver, Professor, Department of Art History, Northwestern University,
at the Annual Conference of the College Art Association, February 16, 1990, New York City

Of particular interest for art historians is the problem of preserving works that incorporate both text and image in the same binding and frequently in significant relationship to each other. The question of how much fidelity is necessary in the conversion of such works from acid paper to alternative media occupied a considerable amount of attention at the Spring Hill conference sponsored by the Commission two years ago [see Scholarly Resources in Art History: Issues in preservation (1989), available for $5.00 from the Commission ]. How close an approximation of the color plates in a book do art historians need, for example? How fine a register is necessary for black-and-white illustrations?

Questions such as these and other problems of image reproduction and storage are indeed important, and not only in art history. Such fields as taxonomic botany, geography and geology, anatomy and histology, to name but a few, use illustrations in combination with text for scholarly purposes. The possibility that there may be common problems of scholarly need and research use of images-with-text led the Commission to apply to the Getty Grant Program for funds to support a Joint Task Force on this complex subject. Although the Task Force had not yet met when this report was written, its composition can be sketched out in terms of the disciplines represented: art history, architecture, medicine, geography, geology, and American history. Some of the varied problems with which the Task Force will have to cope are intrinsic to the different ways in which images are used in different presentations of information. Sometimes, for example, color is primarily a convenience, a means of making information more readily grasped, as when four colors are used to represent defined areas of a map. In other applications, however, color conveys specific information per se, as in topographic or soil maps. Gradations of color are informative features of anatomical illustrations, whereas color variation in contour mapping is only incidentally informative, the true data residing in the relative density of contour lines. The latter could be recorded in black and white microfilm without serious loss of information, the former not.

Such observations have strong implications for technique and medium of preservation, to say nothing of fidelity to the original. Undoubtedly the issues of color representation are only a part of the problem of image preservation, but it is likely that some of the same commonalties and differences among disciplines and fields will appear in other realms of scholarly need.

A book as humdrum as an old telephone directory or tax roll may be invaluable to a scholar researching some aspect of the past; when the last known copy crumbles, society loses part of its collective memory.

from Saving our Heritage,” The Lamp (Fall 1987), c 1987, courtesy
Exxon Corporation, Florham Park, NJ

The search for effective selection strategies that will enable the preservation of a substantial and important portion of our accumulated knowledge is a complex process, strewn with controversial issues and studded with passionately held beliefs. The conflict between the wish to let nothing be lost and the cold realization that we cannot save everything leads inevitably to compromise. The Scholarly Advisory Committees and Joint Task Force are one component of a broad, loosely coordinated, continuing effort to find the optimal compromises.

Henry Riecken, Senior Program Advisor
  • *In April 1990, the Commission newsletter reprinted “The Problem That Will Not Go Away,” a presentation made by Dr. Larry Silver, Professor, Department of Art History, Northwestern University, at the Annual Conference of the College Art Association, February 16, 1990, in New York City. Dr. Silver is chair of the Commission’s Scholarly Advisory Committee on Art History.
  • * The Commission contracted with The Medieval Institute, University of Notre Dame, to conduct a colloquium on preservation issues in medieval studies on March 25 and 26 at the University of Notre Dame. The event, which brought together 15 scholars rom Canada and the United States specializing in studies of the Middle Ages, was also cosponsored by the College of Arts and Letters of the University of Notre Dame and The Medieval Academy of America.
  • * Two publications completed during the year deal with selection. On the Preservation of Books and Documents in Original Form, by Barclay Ogden, explores issues involved in preserving materials that have scholarly value as objects. “When the original form or format contributed to the scholarly value of the record, the record becomes an artifact,” Ogden suggests. Selection for Preservation of Research Library Materials discusses disciplinary differences in the needs and objectives of preservation, possible approaches to selection strategies, and factors that affect the choice of an approach.
  • * The Commission’s brittle book exhibit premiered at several conferences of scholars during the year. (See the Communication section of this report.)


The Commission’s involvement in preservation efforts abroad over the past year–especially in Europe–has proven most timely. While a few years ago nationalistic sentiments precluded meaningful discussions leading to collaboration in most fields, today there is an overwhelming need and desire to do so. Borders are opening up, walls are falling, countries are united, and the European Community will be a reality in less than two years. These developments have an enormous impact on the economies and political structures of many countries but they will also make a significant difference in the flow of information among countries. The pressure is on to plan beyond national borders and to take the long view toward truly international cooperation.

During the past year, the International Project’s main emphasis was to strengthen the links between institutions abroad and the u s. library and academic communities with a view toward consolidating the objective stated from the beginning: To determine the extent to which preservation records exist in each country; to identify the difficulties in converting these records to machine-readable format and entering them into a common database; to agree on the level of bibliographic detail needed to exchange records easily; and to determine the best way to proceed to create a shared database capacity. The guiding principle was stated in last year’s annual report: The most important aspect of the International Project is bridge-building among different countries and disparate groups, between what is already in place and what we perceive could be set in place.

The new political realities have changed the way we approach bridge-building. In the United States we have developed effective systems and procedures to collect, organize, and disseminate information, but other countries, for political, historical, financial, and linguistic reasons, may have to make different choices. The challenge is to find the common ground, to perceive the important similarities, and to forge a consensus on how to proceed for the common cause–to share information, to pool resources, and to avoid costly duplication of efforts.

A case in point is the early decision to become actively involved with the developments at the Commission of European Communities (CEC). The CEC Plan of Action for Libraries in the European Communities was endorsed in March of 1989. With a budget of almost $100 million, the plan proposes lines of action that are targeted broadly at the development of machine-readable resources; the interconnection of networks; the provision of new and enhanced services to users; the development of new products for libraries; and the provision of training.

The Commission was represented at the first planning meeting, where it was decided to launch the first phase of a European Register of Microform Masters (EROMM) with records available from the United Kingdom, France, West Germany, and Portugal. Ariane Iljon, the CEC’s Library Coordinator, said: The EROMM project is a model for any projects that may come out of the Plan of Action: It is innovative and end-user oriented, it encourages the adoption of proper filming and bibliographic standards using new information technology, it can be repeated in the countries that are not yet involved but may wish to join it later, and it promotes inter-library cooperation.”

The workshop participants–representatives of libraries and library organizations in the member countries–agreed that “EROMM opens a cooperative opportunity to all libraries in the EC as well as to libraries in the rest of the world.”

We owe it to ourselves to produce better paper, not only for the good of our culture, but also to honor our craft.

A self identified “paper man” and participant at a February 1990
symposium on permanent paper held by the Federal Republic of Germany’s
Deutsche Bibliothek and its “Gesellschaft fur das Buch” (Association for the Book)

In West Germany, where the coordination of bibliographic citations for filmed items is in a state of flux, a high-level committee has been appointed to assure that the country will be ready to participate in EROMM. It may be a sign of the International Project’s high visibility in Europe that the Commission was invited to attend the committee’s planning meetings.

During the report year, the event announced last year as a “meeting on the working level of representatives of participating countries” was held. Representatives from the United States, Canada, Venezuela, United Kingdom, France, West Germany, East Germany, and Switzerland met in Zurich May 13-16 to develop cooperative strategies for the preservation of deteriorating books printed on acid paper. The group was convened by the Commission and represented initial countries visited by its International Project.

The primary focus of the meeting was the development of guidelines for the creation of a machine-readable, internationally compatible database capacity of bibliographic records to enable the efficient and timely exchange of information on preservation microfilming. The group also considered a range of other issues related to preservation.

Meeting participants endorsed a series of recommendations for action by the Commission to encourage and coordinate mutually beneficial activities in countries around the world. These include the coordination of information about existing European guidelines for the exchange of machine-readable bibliographic records, a worldwide survey of preservation filming projects, and a study to identify the costs and management requirements of centralized and decentralized database models. Work on most of these recommendations has begun. For example. a draft to consolidate various European approaches for the exchange of machine-readable records is being circulated among the participants of the Zurich meeting for their comments.

In a welcome development designed to help the Commission launch concrete initiatives in its International Project, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation announced in December 1989 a $1 million grant to the Commission. The award, to be used over a period of three years, is to support the development of an international database capacity of bibliographic records for preserved library materials. The funds also will help facilitate cooperative preservation microfilming outside the United States that is linked to similar work in this country. Among the planned activities to be sponsored by the grant are a series of pilot projects in various countries. For example, a contract is nearing completion that will assist the Bibliotheque Nationale’s efforts to convert speedily its entire register of microform masters of almost 130,000 records to machine-readable form.

From the beginning, it has been impossible as well as undesirable to separate microfilming projects abroad from other efforts in preservation. The Commission continues to collect and disseminate information about conservation, deacidification, and permanent paper. Examples are the special report on mass deacidification procedures for libraries and archives in West Germany (September 1989) and the invitation by the Deutsche Bibliothek and its “Gesellschaft fur das Buch” (Association for the Book) to participate in a symposium on permanent paper held in the Federal Republic of Germany during February 1990. The International Project also received significant publicity: The international editions of the Readers Digest, the Neue Zurcher Zeitung in Switzerland, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s documentary, “Turning to Dust.” all recognized the project.

The project is exploring the possibilities of extending its initiatives beyond the original countries. In Australia, Brazil, Norway, China, Japan, and other countries, preservation is taken very seriously and many projects to reformat collections are either planned or under way, yet very little is known about these efforts in the United States. For example, it is astonishing that relatively little is known here about the project “Archivo General de Indias in Seville.” This massive effort by the Spanish Ministry of Culture, the Foundation Ramón Areces, and IBM Spain is to preserve in digitized form all 45 million documents that constitute the printed heritage of Spain’s 400 years of power in the Americas. The bibliographic description of these items is maintained in admirable detail, and the database accumulated in Spain is a valuable bibliographic resource about an important preserved collection.

The Commission’s International Project is firmly established. We now are committed to maintaining and consolidating the relationships established and the gains made, as we look to expand activities to other countries. Hopefully, some day in the future, your project will reach out to China,” wrote a librarian at Peking’s University Library. Throughout the project, we have learned much about preservation efforts abroad, and we have become increasingly aware that the need for preserving our crumbling collections is pressing and universal. We trust that the day referred to by our Chinese colleague will not be too far into the future.

Hans Rutimann, Program Officer
  • * in August 1989, The International Project Progress Report described a June 1989 visit by Hans Rutimann to libraries and other organizations identified for the project. The report provides updates on preservation microfilming activities in Deutsche Bibliothek, Frankfurt am Main; Deutsches Bibliotheksinstitut, Berlin; Stadt- und Universitatsbibliothek, Frankfurt am Main; Council of Europe, Strasbourg; and Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, Provins, Sable.

At a time when so many divisive factors afflict humanity, the book remains above all else the link of spirit to spirit, of people to people.

Paul Otlet, Belgian lawyer (1868-1944), with Henri-Marie Lafontaine
devised (1899) the Universal Decimal Classification subject groups or library collections


Much has occurred in the last decade to inform and mobilize the nation about the issues of preservation, to mount a collaborative reformatting effort, and to build regional preservation services. The past year saw the further development of fully functioning preservation programs at the local institutional level. With some large research libraries having firmly established preservation programs, many more universities and colleges were determining how they could transform the current general support for preservation into a productive operation. The challenges of building an institutional capability often involve new partnerships with individuals and organizations outside the library/archives walls–concerned constituencies whose support and involvement is crucial to a successful preservation effort.


Some institutions find that local support is not adequate for needed activities. Others operate programs, but with high overheads that cannot be sustained consistently over the long time periods required for success. Still others must compete with high-intensive priorities such as automation and new physical facilities. The challenge of developing productive preservation operations in balance with other priorities is the focus of a strategic planning project begun in June 1990 at the University of Pennsylvania. With the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the university is taking a broad approach to preservation program management that considers a full range of treatment options, the implications and roles of regional and national programs, and technological trade-offs. The project seeks to understand what will be required to more fully utilize regional microfilming facilities, mass deacidification treatment centers, conservation services, and other external resources in order to support an ongoing library preservation program. Among the goals of the library are to minimize local staffing demands, concentrate costs on products rather than overhead, and make optimum use of fluctuating funding.

Using general support funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Commission has contracted with the university to produce a final report containing guidelines and applicable data that the Commission will disseminate widely to other institutions. The project’s directors believe that what they learn will be useful to small and large libraries, and that the planning, staffing, and funding structure to be developed can be adapted by a variety of types of libraries to establish their own preservation programs. The contract calls for a report by June 1, 1991.


For a growing number of small and mid-sized institutions, the field of preservation is moving beyond an earlier focus on techniques to a more conscious attention to strategies. Libraries with emerging programs are interested in implementing preservation programs that are coherent and appropriate to their size, needs, and resources, according to the Commission’s College Libraries Committee. Libraries also are interested in taking advantage of regional, state, and other cooperative programs, as well as integrating their activities into the national preservation efforts fostered by the Commission. With those needs in mind, the committee recommended the development of a Preservation Management Seminar for library staff with part-time preservation responsibility.

Under a contractual arrangement, the Commission and SOLlNET’s Preservation Program are sharing costs of design and first-time operation of the seminar, with the expectation that it may subsequently be repeated elsewhere. The one week event is scheduled during the summer of 1991 in Atlanta, GA. Attendance will be open to librarians throughout the nation, and registrants will be selected on an application basis. The Commission will award one scholarship for the seminar to a qualified attendee. Criteria for attendance, being developed by the committee and SOLINET, include evidence of institutional commitment to preservation. The Commission’s support of the seminar is being funded by a general-purpose grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.


The education and involvement of an institution’s facility managers are essential for improving environmental conditions for books and other library and archival materials. A technical understanding of environmental requirements and standards, along with improved communication and working relationships between facility managers and librarians/archivists, have been identified as key elements for furthering sound environmental practices within libraries and archives. A collaborative arrangement of the Commission and the Association of Physical Plant Administrators of Colleges and Universities led to a joint Task Force on Environmental Conditions that designed a I 1/2-day program, “Preservation of Library and Archival Materials.”

To be held February 28-March 1, 1 99 1, in Washington, DC, the program is being structured for attendance by teams of facility managers and librarians/archivists from single institutions. Faculty will include higher education administrators, library directors, facilities administrators, and other specialists who manage library/archival materials. Individual sessions will cover various aspects of Problem Identification and Evaluation and Maintaining the Best Environment. The Smithsonian Institution is preparing case study presentations focusing on problem solving.


Following an exploratory meeting hosted by the Commission in October 1989, representatives of three university libraries and a reprint publisher decided to continue exploring the possibility of a demonstration preservation reprint project. The Commission had sponsored the initial meeting to encourage the further development of choices of access and format for preserved materials. As part of the test project, libraries at the University of California, Berkeley; Columbia University; and Yale University expected to build sample lists of potential titles that could be reprinted on acid-free paper in library standard binding by Garland Publishing Inc. The publisher, in the meanwhile, was to contact potential purchasers of such reprints to determine the market feasibility of the arrangement.


The distinctive needs and roles of smaller and mid-sized academic libraries within the national preservation agenda were examined by the Commission’s Mid-Sized Research Libraries and College Libraries Committees, with differing conclusions. The Mid-Sized Research Libraries Committee decided that their colleagues could work profitably within already-established groups, and the committee ceased operating as an independent entity. Issues of particular concern–education and training, centralized full-service filming agencies, preservation of electronic formats, binding improvements, relationships with consortia and NEH, and special needs of archives and special collections–were shared by libraries of all sizes and were being addressed by a number of new and emerging programs on the national, regional, and local scenes, the members agreed.

The College Libraries Committee, representing smaller institutions, identified a number of needs that were appropriate for the group’s action. To help train preservation staff members and develop productive working relationships with physical plant personnel, the committee assisted in planning the preservation management seminar and the environmental conditions course described above. To further spread knowledge about preservation activities to a broader number of colleges, members also collaborated with the editor of College and Research Libraries News to inaugurate and write an ongoing preservation column.

The committee also identified a need for centralized microform storage and access services and officially urged the Commission to explore such possibilities. College libraries are expected to be among the primary users of preservation microfilm, and they would prefer to deal with as few sources as possible when purchasing materials, according to the committee’s recommendation. Finally, to encourage small libraries’ participation in national programs the committee met with representatives of NEH and Title II C of the Office of Library Programs, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, and then provided colleagues with information regarding application for preservation-related grants.

Librarians have unprecedented opportunities to make a difference in the lives of people. We cannot discard or disregard the past.

from “The Online Information System at Georgia Institute of
Technology,” by Miriam A. Drake, in Information Technology and Libraries, Vol.8, No.2 (June 1989)


Where appropriate, the Commission plays a supporting role for programs related to its initiatives that are being spearheaded by other organizations and constituencies concerned with the national preservation agenda.


Several involved constituencies made significant progress over the past 12 months in furthering the acceptance and use of alkaline paper for materials of enduring value. At the end of this year, the use of alkaline paper by university presses and major publishers was well on its way to becoming universal in the United States and Canada. Papermakers were discovering that lowered manufacturing costs and reduced environmental impact were major incentives for the conversion of mills from acidic to alkaline paper production. The federal government had proposed and passed legislation to establish a national policy to promote and encourage the printing of books of enduring value on alkaline paper (S.J. Res. 57 passed in the Senate, July 31, 1989; H.J. Res. 226 hearings completed, scheduled for summer 1990 passage). The Government Printing Office (GPO) had developed an alkaline paper plan, and found alkaline paper prices to be competitive with those of acid paper. At least seven state legislatures had passed legislation requiring the use of permanent paper for state documents, with nine other states preparing similar bills. In addition, the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) was updating its standard for permanent paper, and an increasing number of journals and bibliographic sources were identifying titles published on permanent paper in their reviews and citations.

The Commission’s International Project worked outside the United States to increase awareness of solutions to the problems of alkaline paper. The project’s program officer participated in a February 1990 symposium on permanent paper held by the Deutsche Bibliothek, where more than 40 librarians, booksellers, publishers, paper manufacturers, archivists, and government officials discussed strategies for the improvement of paper in the Federal Republic of Germany.

The Commission also collaborated with the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the American Library Association, and the National Humanities Alliance to prepare and distribute an updated ARL Briefing Package: “Preserving Knowledge: The Case for Alkaline Paper.” The updated package highlights progress over the past three years, focusing on paper industry developments, higher education initiatives, author and publisher support, and standards. The package was scheduled for publication in late summer 1990.


In the past year, several potential vendors expressed their intent to move into the mass deacidification market. Individual libraries and library groups, including the Library of Congress and the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, interested in this preservation technology were eager to develop and share evaluation factors for selecting vendors in this new area.

Those involved in planning for mass deacidification need a basic understanding of the responsibilities and roles of their own institutions and of vendors, along with the basic chemistry and scientific principles that underlie mass processes. To assist institutions in acquiring this knowledge, the Commission contracted with Dr. Peter G. Sparks, a physical chemist, to prepare a report on the technical information required to support decision making for using mass deacidification as a preservation alternative. The resulting report, Technical Considerations in Choosing Mass Deacidification Processes (May 1990), takes a scientific stance, advocating the most conservative path to making decisions and giving the safety of the collections the highest priority. The report’s most extensive section analyzes six technical evaluation factors, including unwanted changes in materials, toxicity, and environmental impact. The report concludes that, although no existing or future mass process will be perfect, decision makers will be able to identify several choices if they assemble a useful body of data and test results and then follow a logical evaluation procedure.

In another effort to support library decision making, the Commission funded the translation and distribution of an article, originally published in German, that summarizes a substantial study of deacidification techniques. The article by Peter Schwerdt is a synthesis of a nine-part report by the Battelle Institute to the West German Library. It discusses paper chemistry and other forms of preservation, including microfilm, and then reviews three mass processes. A major conclusion is that ‘deacidification results only in an extension of the remaining life expectancy of books at the time of treatment, depending on their condition. A restoration of the original durability of the paper is not achieved in this manner.”


Cooperative approaches to preservation were on the upswing in the past year. A growing number of state legislatures, library networks, regional service centers, and consortia took an active role in developing preservation-related programs to serve their memberships and clientele. To help coordinate these programs with national-level goals, Commission staff accepted invitations to participate in a number of cooperative meetings and conferences.

Priorities for a national preservation effort will be different from any particular state’s, but at both the federal and state level, agencies must play the multiple roles of planners, funders, leaders, educators, and coordinators. We have to see our work at the institutional, state, and national levels as part of one major effort.

Carole Huxley, Deputy Commissioner for Cultural Education, New York
State; Welcoming Speech at the National Conference on the Development of
Statewide Preservation Programs, March 1-3, 1989, at the Library of Congress


Developing productive communication linkages among the varied constituencies active in preservation received a high priority in 1989-90 as the needs for shared knowledge became more complex. In some cases, long-time preservation participants in their own fields–for example, archivists and librarians–requested Commission assistance with cross-discipline communication. In other cases, the Commission’s communication efforts stretched beyond traditional preservation audiences to the newly involved–general-audience media, state legislatures, and technologists, for instance. Communication also increased geographically with the heightened activities of the International Project.

The distribution of the newsletter to more than 1,100 readers monthly reflected the broad-based constituencies served by the Commission. In addition to a main core of universities and libraries, other recipients include a growing number of regional and state agencies and networks, editors and publishers, businesses and industries, u.s. federal governmental agencies, and European governmental and higher education organizations.

Sponsor-initiated requests resulted in the development of two publications by the Communications Program. In response to concerns about the preservation of video recordings, a special report on the topic was published in the the April 1990 issue of the newsletter. Sponsors’ interests in local fundraising for preservation will be addressed in a support package for libraries and archives titled “Ideas for Preservation Fund Raising.” The package will provide a number of suggestions and alternatives for colleges and universities seeking to build a base of support for ongoing preservation activities.

A new brochure describing the Commission’s activities and initiatives for 1990-91 was made widely available for use by individuals and groups. Also distributed widely was the 1988-89 Annual Report, issued in October 1 989.

With the cooperation of the University Libraries and Media Services of Kent State University (KSU) and the New York Public Library (NYPL) Preservation Department, the Commission designed a preservation exhibit, which travelled to several scholars’ conferences. The exhibit graphically portrays the effects of acid-based paper with a giant brittle book constructed by KSU audiovisual services staff and several deteriorating brittle books from NYPL’s microfilming program.

Without the words, without the writing of books, there is no history, there is no concept of humanity.

Herman Hesse, from The Magic of the Book,” in My Belief Essays in Life
and Art
, translated by Denver Lindley and edited by Theodore Ziolkowski, p. 153 (New York: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1974)

“Slow Fires,” the film/video sponsored by the Council on Library Resources, the Library of Congress, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, was loaned to a number of organizations. “Slow Fires” was awarded the Grand Prix, Science Section, at the Salerno Film Festival in 1989.

An ongoing function of the Communications Program is the provision of background information on preservation to general-audience media–television and radio stations, newspapers, and magazines–within the United States and worldwide. Commission staff also assisted numerous business and industry house organs and specialized newsletters and journals with the preparation of articles about preservation. To accompany such articles, the Commission maintained and loaned a collection of preservation-related photographs provided by universities and libraries.

In cooperation with the American Library Association, the Commission supported a second printing of a Going, Going, Gone” brochure developed by ALA’s Association for Library Collections Technical Services. Another cooperative project–to produce an updated briefing package on the use of alkaline paper–is described in the Supporting Activities section of this report.


The newsletter is produced to provide a direct, regular information flow among individuals and organizations involved in preservation issues. To keep costs at a reasonable level, the newsletter’s circulation is controlled to reflect the primary audiences of the Commission. The newsletter is not copyrighted and may be freely reproduced.


The Commission’s policy is to seek specialists to prepare reports on a variety of important topics; to provide responsible editorial oversight, fact-checking and peer review; and to indicate the provenance of the publication. Commission publications are intended to stimulate thought and discussion, rather than to be considered as corporate pronouncements.



July 1, 1989 – June 30, 1990

Battin, Patricia. “Cooperative Preservation in the United States: Progress and Possibilities.” Alexandria 1, no. 2 (1989): 7-16.

Battin, Patricia. “Crumbling Books: A Call for Strategies to Preserve Our Cultural Memory.” Change 21, no. 5 (September-October 1989).

The Commission on Preservation and Access Newsletters: nos. 14-24 (July 1989-June 1990).

The Commission on Preservation and Access Annual Report, 1988-89.

The Commission on Preservation and Access Brochure (March 1990).

Ogden, Barclay. On the Preservation of Books and Documents in Original Form (October 1989).

Rutimann, Hans. The International Project (August 1989).

Schwerdt, Peter. Mass Deacidification Procedures for Libraries and Archives: State of Development and Perspectives for Implementation in the Federal Republic of Germany (September 1989).

Selection for Preservation of Research Library Materials (August 1989).

Sitts, Maxine. Directory: Information Sources on Scientific Research Related to the Preservation of Books, Paper. and Adhesives (March 1990).

Sparks, Peter. Technical Considerations in Choosing Mass Deacidification Processes (May 1990).

Single copies of all publications are available at no cost while supplies last, except for Technical Considerations in Choosing Mass Deacidification Processes, for which there is a $5.00 charge (prepayment in US funds – checks only).



Rowland C. W. Brown (Chair)

Adam Hodgkin (beginning 9/89)
Managing Director
Cherwell Scientific Publishing Limited

Douglas van Houweling
Vice Provost for Information Technologies
University of Michigan

Michael Lesk
Division Manager, Computer Science Research

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


Willis E. Bridegam (interim Chair 1/90-6/90)
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

Michael Haeuser (beginning 10/89)
Head Librarian
Gustavus Adolphus College

David A. Kearley (resigned 9/89)
University Librarian
University of the South

Jacquelyn M. Morris
College Librarian
Occidental College

Kathleen Moretto Spencer (Chair)
Library Director
Franklin Marshall College


(disbanded 1/90)

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
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


Nancy S. Allen (beginning 1/90)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann
Professor, Institute of Fine Arts
New York University

Phyllis Pray Bober
Leslie Clark Professor in the Humanities,
Department of History of Art
Bryn Mawr College

Richard Brilliant
Professor, Department of Art History and Archaeology
Columbia University

Lorenz Eitner
Stanford University Museum of Art

Alan Fern
National Portrait Gallery

Larry Silver (Chair)
Professor, Department of Art History
Northwestern University

Deirdre C. Stam
Professor, School of Information Studies
Syracuse University


Margaret S. Child
Assistant Director for Research Services
Smithsonian Institution Libraries

Larry J. Hackman
New York State Archives & Records Administration

John Howe (Chair)
Professor, Department of History
University of Minnesota

Anna Nelson
Professor, Department of History
Tulane University

Emiliana P. Noether
Professor of History Emerita
University of Connecticut

Mary Beth Norton
Mary Donion Alger Professor, Department of History
Cornell University

David H. Stam
University Librarian
Syracuse University


Jo Ann Boydston
Professor, Center for Dewey Studies
Southern Illinois University

Richard M. 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 B. Schneewind (Chair)
Professor, Department of Philosophy
Johns Hopkins University

Charles Young
Professor, Department of Philosophy
Claremont Graduate School


Emory Elliott
President’s Chair of English
University of California, Riverside

John H. Fisher
Professor of English Emeritus
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

H. L. Gates, Jr.
National Humanities Center, Research Triangle Park

Elaine Marks
Professor, Department of French
University of Wisconsin-Madison

J. Hillis Miller (Chair)
Professor, Department of English and Comparative Literature
University of California, Irvine

W. J. T. Mitchell
Professor, Department of English
University of Chicago

Rainer Nagele
Professor, Department of German
Johns Hopkins University

Annabel Patterson
Professor, Department of English
Duke University

Catharine R. Stimpson
Dean of the Graduate School-New Brunswick and Vice Provost for Graduate Education
Rutgers University


Sally Buchanan
Adjunct Professor, School of Library and Information Science
University of Pittsburgh

David B. Gracy II
Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Texas at Austin

Carolyn Harris
Director of Conservation Education Programs, School of Library Service
Columbia University

Beverly P. Lynch
Dean, Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of California, Los Angeles

Deanna B. Marcum (Chair)
Dean, School of Library and Information Science
Catholic University of America

Sally Roggia
Adjunct Professor, School of Library and Information Science
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Robert D. Stueart
Dean, Graduate School of Library and Information Science
Simmons College


Nancy S. Allen
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Thomas C. Battle
Director, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center Library
Howard University

Robert Brentano
Professor, Department of History
University of California, Berkeley

Richard Brilliant (Chair)
Professor, Department of Art History and Archaeology
Columbia University

David B. Brownlee
Professor, Department of the History of Art
University of Pennsylvania

Janet Buerger
Associate Curator, Photographic Collections
International Museum of Photography, George Eastman House

Angela Giral
Librarian, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library
Columbia University

Anne Kenney
Assistant Conservation Librarian
Cornell University

Susan Klimley
Geological Sciences Librarian
Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory of Columbia University

Katherine Martinez
The Winterthur Library

James R. McCredie
Institute of Fine Arts
New York University

Robert G. Neiley
Robert Neiley Architects

Nicholas Olsberg
Head of Collections
Canadian Centre for Architecture

John Parascandola
Chief, History of Medicine Division
National Library of Medicine


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 Library 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 Agricultural Library
Leslie A. Kulp

National Archives and Records Administration
Alan Calmes

National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators
Howard P. Lowell

National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges
J. Dennis O’Connor

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)
Kate Nevins

Research Libraries Group
Patricia A. McClung

Social Science Research Council
Gloria Kirchheimer

Society of American Archivists
Donn C. Neal



Millicent D. Abell
University Librarian
Yale University

Henriette D. Avram (beginning 9/89)
Associate Librarian for Collections Services
Library of Congress

Patricia Battin
Commission on Preservation and Access

Richard De Gennaro
Roy E. Larsen Librarian
Harvard College 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
Brown University

Kenneth R. R. Gros Louis
Vice President. Indiana University and Chancellor-Bloomington
Indiana University

Warren J. Haas
Council on Library Resources

Carole F. Huxley
Deputy Commissioner for Cultural Education
New York State Education Department

Donald S. Lamm
W.W. Norton and Company

Sidney Verba
Harvard University Library

William J. Welsh
Deputy Librarian of Congress


Patricia Battin

Pamela D. Block
Administrative Assistant

Rowland C. W. Brown

Patricia Cece (beginning 2/90)
Communications Assistant

Henry W. Riecken
Senior Program Advisor

Hans Rutimann
Program Officer

Maxine K. Sitts
Program Officer

Commission on Preservation and Access
1400 16th Street, NW, Suite 740
Washington, DC 20036-2217
(202) 939-3400

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 are available at no cost while supplies last. Submitted to ERIC (Educational Resources Information Center) for reproduction in hardcopy and microfiche.

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