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CPA Annual Report: 1991 – 1992

September 1992

Think what a book is. It is a portion of the eternal mind caught in its process through the world, stamped in an instant, and preserved for eternity.

Richard Monkton Milnes, the first Baron
Houghton (1809-1885), 19th century poet, critic, and legislator. Lord
Houghton’s printed works include five volumes of verse, the famous
Life, Letters, and Literary Remains of John Kats, and several essays, one entitled “Essays on a Liberal Education.”


Organization, Support, and 1991-92 Initiatives
Special Report: An International Perspective
Technical Assessment
Scholarly Advisory Committees
The Brittle Books Program
Education and Training
Institutional Initiatives
Publications and Reports, July 1, 1991 – June 30, 1992
Committees and Task Forces
Board of Directors and Staff
Financial Statements


Thirty-four colleges and universities confirmed their commitment to a collaborative preservation and access agenda during 1991-92 by continuing their financial sponsorship of the Commission. The sustained support of these institutions, together with the generous backing of foundations, enabled the Commission to maintain a strong, flexible capability for action nationally and internationally.


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


Amherst College
Brown University
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
Harvard University
Haverford College
Indiana University
Johns Hopkins University
Lehigh 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 at Austin
Vassar College
University of Washington
Washington University
Wellesley College
Wesleyan University
Williams College


The year 1990-1991 was characterized by the recognition in our last report of a dimly visible “altered landscape” emerging from the initial successes and experiences of a concerted preservation effort on an international scale. The somewhat shadowy features of that altered landscape burst upon us with clarifying force during 1991-92 as we explored more fully the potential of digital technologies for preservation. The use of new technologies is not simply one more option added to our existing analog toolbox–moving from analog to digital requires that we move the mind–set as well.

The Commission has been exploring the potential of digital technology for preservation for several major reasons: 1) the need to preserve retrospective scholarly resources printed on deteriorating paper; 2) the undeniable strength of microform as a storage medium accompanied by serious disadvantages for dissemination and scholarly use; and 3) the need to insure continuing access to prospective information stored on and transmitted via rapidly changing electronic media. Our technological explorations are further driven by the conviction that technology continues to change both scholarly research methodologies and information needs and habits. It is essential that the knowledge from the past that we preserve today meets the needs of future scholars. And in the process of preserving the past, we can make substantial strides toward the digital library framework for the future.

Striding toward a future as different from the past as digital is from analog implies a transition process in which we learn to think as well as to act in the future tense. And nowhere is that need for reconceptualization more evident than in our almost paralyzing quandary about digital standards.

The library profession, in the analog world of the printed book, has made enormous contributions over the past century toward the standardization of bibliographic formats, paper and binding standards, environmental conditions, microfilming processes, and most importantly, what constitutes longevity or archival quality. These standards have enabled us to share the preservation burden by developing national and international collaborative programs with the confidence that our colleagues, upon whom we place our reluctant dependence, are indeed adhering to our own high standards. And in our zeal to make sure that we achieve perfection–regardless of the cost–our standards have possibly hindered rather than facilitated broad and affordable access.

In the digital world, standards as we have known them do not yet exist. If we define preservation as the provision of access to knowledge recorded on a multitude of media as far into the future as possible, standards can be a double-edged sword. Standards are essential to facilitate interconnectivity and access. But if set too soon, they can hinder creativity, expansion of capability, and broadening of access.

The characteristics of standards for digital imagery differ radically from analog imagery. The nature of digital technology implies continuing volatility so that precipitous standard setting can inhibit development, while delayed standard setting results in chaos. Digital standards are a complex issue involving the medium, the hardware, the software, and the technical capacity for reproductive fidelity and clarity. Why worry about a standard for the longevity of the recording medium when the software and hardware will be obsolete long before the medium deteriorates?

There are two possible alternatives when faced with such a poor prognosis. Stay where you are with the old technology, or take a deep breath and reconceptualize….

The digital technologies offer significant potential for the dissemination and use of preserved materials. Quite likely in the future, as costs decline and capabilities increase, digital storage will provide similar advantages. So it is imperative that we define the vastly altered landscape and create viable strategies for the transition process.

In general, preservation concerns for electronic media fall into two domains:

  • The continuing assurance of access to knowledge originally generated, stored, disseminated and used in electronic form. Within this domain there are at least three further subdivisions:
    • closed, proprietary systems
    • bundled information such as electronic journals and government agency records, and
    • electronically produced or captured raw data which will never be printed on paper.
  • The application of digital technologies to the reformatting of materials originally published on a deteriorating analog medium, such as acid paper, videotape and the like. Here the concerns are twofold:
    • the appropriate choice of technology for faithful reproduction of the original, and as in the former instance,
    • the assurance of continuing access.

In one sense, the challenge of providing continuing access to electronic media is simpler than dealing with the conversion from one medium to another because there is no emotional commitment to the electronic medium and no need to compare the fidelity of reproduction with an original copy, since the original iteration can be duplicated without loss of information. In another sense, it is horrific and mind-boggling. The mountain of deteriorating paper is daunting; the prospective rivers and oceans of electronic data are almost beyond human comprehension.

The preservation of electronic media requires reconceptualizing our preservation principles in a volatile, standardless transition period, which may well last far longer than anyone today envisions. We must change our focus from assessing, measuring and setting standards for the permanence of the medium to the concept of managing continuing access to information stored on a variety of media and requiring a variety of ever-changing access hardware and software. This is a fundamental change for the library profession and if we are to navigate the transition successfully, rather than to continue to muddle through, there are a number of actions we must take.

We must redefine the concept of “archival” and begin to think in terms of life cycles. In the past, we were able to be somewhat cavalier about life cycles, because we naively assumed paper would last forever and because paper usually outlasted the careers of individual librarians. Even though we are longer-lived today, the electronic media is so transient that we are forced to recognize and accept the concept of life cycles at the point of acquisition.

We must remove the burden of archival copy from the paper artifact as well as other media. There are few books and documents today, even though published on “permanent” paper, which will survive the heavy use characteristic of contemporary user communities.

Digital standards have to be developed and set in a cooperative context to insure efficient exchange of information. We must pursue unprecedented creative thinking if we are ever to move through a successful transition to the digital world. If we continue to apply our analog values and definitions of standards to the digital environment, we will effectively forfeit the benefits of digital technology for research and scholarship. Standards–for hardware, software and digital media–are essential. But the processes for setting them, for analyzing their appropriateness, and for their productive use are fundamentally different from the processes we employed in the analog world, and it is essential that we recognize and rethink the implications of those differences.

We have to find ways to articulate and analyze the costs attached to different levels of standards. In the past, the library profession has set standards in an economic vacuum, and cost considerations have not really been taken into account.

Given this chaos, which promises to be with us for the foreseeable future, the following principles can serve to guide us through the thickets of ambiguity if we are to act rather than to wait:

  • Do our utmost to understand the changing information requirements of scholarly disciplines as more and more technology is integrated into the process of research and scholarly communication in order to meet future needs.
  • Capture deteriorating information at the highest affordable resolution even though the dissemination and display technologies still lag.
  • Develop essential cooperative mechanisms so that we agree on protocols for document structure and other interchange mechanisms necessary for widespread dissemination and use before official standards are set. In other words, agree to cooperate on developing de facto standards for the transition period.
  • Capture information in such a way that we keep all our options open and provide for total affordable convertibility among media.
  • Work closely with the generators of information and the builders of networks and databases to make sure that continuing accessibility is a primary concern from the beginning.
  • Piggyback all our technical activities on standards being developed for the broad marketplace, making exceptions only where customized approaches are required to meet specialized needs.
  • Concentrate our efforts on managing permanence in the digital world rather than perfecting the longevity of a particular medium.
Patricia Battin, President



In recognition of the fact that more than twenty-five percent of the world’s great collections was embrittled and lost to future scholarship and that an even larger percentage was in danger of the same fate due to the “slow fires” of the chemical breakdown of acidic paper, the Council on Library Resources established the Commission on Preservation and Access in 1986, with initial financial support from nineteen institutions and four foundations. The Commission’s overall goal is to develop and encourage effective national and international collaborative strategies for preserving and providing access to the accumulated human record. To accomplish the goal, the Commission is envisioned as a matrix “providing an ordered place for existing components and seeking to supply the elements required to fill the gaps.”

Over the past five years, the Commission has defined preservation to encompass multiple strategies for providing access to the human record as far into the future as possible. The Commission advances preservation and access initiatives through coordination, advocacy and exploration of issues. It works primarily through existing institutions.

The Commission is a non-profit corporation exempt from federal income tax under Section (501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Corde, and is governed by a Board of 13 directors. The Commission’s primary function as a flexible, responsive catalyst is sponsored by colleges and universities, with programmatic support from a number of foundations.


The Commission’s elected governing Board meets three times each year, with its annual meeting in the fall. Board members serve three-year terms, with a three-term maximum. Reelected to the Board during the year were Kenneth R.R. Gros Louis, Carol Huxley and Sidney Verba.

In late 1990, the Board had named an independent committee to conduct a review of preservation activities from 1986 to 1991, assess the continuing need for preservation activities, and identify the major issues for the future. Within this context, the committee reviewed and assessed the role of the Commission, identifying those areas in which it could be most effective and recommending directions for future activities. The Board was presented with the committee’s final report, which included 20 recommendations for their consideration, in September 1991. After disseminating the report and requesting comments from Commission constitutents, the Board formally accepted the document in January 1992 and took the first of several formal actions: it concurred with recommendations that the Commission maintain a practice of quinquennial review to assess progress and future direction and that the Commission’s role remain that of a catalyst, rather than as an organization that funds and operates programs.

The assessment report recommended that the Board evaluate and revise the role and membership of the National Advisory Council on Preservation (NACP), and after due consideration and consultation with NACP members, the Board voted to dissolve this group as a formal continuing body, with the proviso that it could be convened on an occasional basis as specific needs arise. In dissolving the Council, the Board Chairman noted that the NACP had made “an important and essential contribution to the launching of a nationwide preservation effort during the past six years.” NACP members were thanked for their contributions to the health and vitality of the preservation movement during the critical period of its development. At its final annual meeting, the NACP heard presentations on collaborative digital imagery demonstration projects and provided its comments on the assessment report.

In another action based on the assessment committee’s recommendations, the Board voted to establish a group of preservation administrators to work with the Commission to contribute their expertise to the broader issues of the comprehensive preservation effort. A Preservation Managers Council was appointed in late June, with its first meeting scheduled for fall 1992. It is the Board’s intention to continue implementing recommendations from the report as it shapes the Commission’s future agenda.

In keeping with its original charge, the Commission’s administrative staff remains small. To provide more functional and usable space for staff and consultants, the Commission moved at the end of 1991 from a shared office arrangement with the Council on Library Resources to new headquarters at 1400 16th St., NW, Washington, DC. Linda Hutter accepted an appointment as treasurer for the Commission, with the resignation of Mary Agnes Thompson, who had served in that capacity as part of the previous arrangement with the Council. At the end of the year, Rebecca Kelly replaced Patricia Cece as communications assistant.

Christine De Bow Klein from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, The Catholic University of America, served an internship at the Commission, where she developed and investigated a core bibliography of jewelry history resources and issued a report on preservation and access needs and strategies for that discipline.


Fifty colleges, universities and other higher education institutions accepted the Board’s invitation to become sponsors of the Commission for the next cycle of three-year pledges, as the previous pledge period came to an end in June 1992. This continuing support, along with funds from foundations, provides the Commission with the ability to sustain existing activities as it expands into new priority areas. Sponsors receive expedited mailings of all Commission newsletters, reports and publications, as well as complimentary additional copies of materials upon request. They also are entitled to use the Commission’s preservation exhibits with no service charge.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation provided major program support for the International Project, technology assessment, communications, archives, and scholarly advisory committees. The Getty Grant Program supported special projects investigating text-and-image. General purpose support came from the Council on Library Resources and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.


As defined in its bylaws, the Commission’s goal is to foster, develop and support purposeful 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.

Initiatives focused on:

  • Fostering global cooperation to coordinate international sharing of preserved materials (Special Report);
  • Involving scholars in the preservation and access agenda; enlisting their assistance with developing strategies for selecting and saving materials;
  • Exploring the potential of digital technologies for preservation and access, as well as the necessary infrastructures to enable research institutions to collaboratively plan for and use technological capabilities to capture, store, transmit and distribute preserved information;
  • Encouraging the development of strategies and guidelines for the selection and custody of archival materials needing preservation attention and integrating the unique preservation challenges of archival materials into ongoing collaborative efforts;
  • Promoting a clear, yet visionary, preservation and access agenda to previously uncommitted constituencies and engaging their interest and support; communicating regularly with a broad range of audiences through authoritative publications, reports and newsletters.
  • Fostering cross-professional and interinstitutional alliances to advance cooperative preservation and access initiatives.
  • Investigating new models for professional education and training in preservation, incorporating in particular library schools and colleges.
  • Championing a sustained high level of support for the Brittle Books Program of the Division of Preservation and Access, National Endowment for the Humanities;
  • Advocating improvement in the quality of materials used to record information of long-term value and in the development and use of preservation guidelines and standards.


To save and to preserve what still can be salvaged from Gutenberg’s era requires monumental efforts.

Headline in Die Weltwoche, Switzerland (No. 19, 7
May 1992).

The fourth year of the Commission’s International Project was marked by collaborative efforts moving closer to fruition and by new opportunities. In many countries, shifting political ground opened new possibilities for collaborative preservation projects. Of course, it takes time to nurture and establish international collaboration–a new concept for many countries. After long periods of sharing information and discussing possibilities, an institution’s readiness to actually embark upon a project is often signalled unexpectedly. Flexibility in responding to these signals continues to be one of the International Project’s important assets.

The International Project’s initial explorations in a few Western European nations have captured attention in other parts of the world. In the past year, almost 50 countries requested Commission publications, information or visits. The extent of preservation problems varies from country to country, as do opinions regarding their solutions. However, there is strong consensus that the problems are serious and that we must work together to solve them.

A publication of the German Academic Exchange Service describes the situation:

There is much talk about dying forests–no one talks about dying books. And yet, the pages between bookcovers are as sick as the leaves on trees. However, acidic ink, mold and the acid contained in the paper do their damage unobserved, in the stacks of archives and libraries. More than a fourth of all books in Germany have deteriorated so badly that they will turn to dust in a few years if the process is not stopped.[1]

Whether in a simple exchange of information or in a sustained collaboration to develop a shared database capacity for information about filmed collections, the International Project has consistently emphasized the same important goal: to avoid duplication of effort–a crucial element in saving decaying collections with limited funds.

In early June 1992, the Bibliothèque Nationale, acting on behalf of the European Register of Microform Master’s (EROMM) Management Committee, welcomed the Commission on Preservation and Access as an official partner of EROMM’s preparatory phase. EROMM, established by the Commission of the European Communities as part of Europe’s library program, will make bibliographic information about preservation microfilm available in a common database. The BN’s acknowledgement of the Commission’s involvement capped a two-and-one-half-year effort to involve the U.S. scholarly and library communities in the creation of this important node for information on microform masters. A BN official noted that “partnerships between European and North American libraries [are] an historical landmark that will contribute greatly to the concept of [a united] Europe.” The reciprocal agreement also allows the U.S. to share information accumulated by EROMM. The Commission is providing supplemental funds for the project.

Additional activities that contribute toward an internationally shared database capacity for information about microform masters include:

  • a substantial effort to convert the Bibliothèque Nationale’s bibliographic records of preservation microforms–more than 140,000 records on filmed monographs of nineteenth-century French literature; the records will be shared with U.S. bibliographic utilities;
  • continued exchange arrangements between the British Library and the Bibliothèque Nationale and between these two institutions and the U.S. bibliographic utilities;
  • plans for conversion to a UNIMARC-based file of Poland’s register of microform masters. This project could serve as a model for other Central and Eastern European libraries, enabling them to participate in and through EROMM in a gradually emerging international register of microform masters;
  • discussions with the China National Microfilming Center for Library Resources on ways to share with scholars and libraries outside China knowledge about the rich depositories that have been filmed in the People’s Republic (four to five million images per year).

In order to share bibliographic information about microform masters, there must be agreement on what constitutes an acceptable bibliographic record. Some countries, much to their regret, simply cannot afford to keep extensive records. An effort begun at a Commission-sponsored meeting in Zurich in May 1990, with representatives of a dozen countries, came to a successful conclusion in October 1991 with the document International Register of Microform Masters: Minimum Data Element Requirements. Development of this document was an exercise in patience, since substantive agreement was required from all the participating countries and the relevant institutions in the United States.[2]

Tom Delsey, Director of Policy and Planning at the National Library of Canada, who coordinated the development of the document, stated:

…although there was not total unanimity on the comments received,
there was generally a clear preference expressed on the issues that
were raised in the document distributed last May.

This “clear preference” allows us to proceed with a cooperative international program, working out differences as we gain experience and perspective in this unprecedented effort.

One of the key events in the European preservation movement took place in December 1991 in The Hague. Organized by the Dutch Presidency and the Commission of the European Communities (CEC) and billed as an “Expert Meeting on Conservation of Acid Paper Material and the Use of Permanent Paper,” the meeting brought together selected experts from all member states. Also invited were guests from Sweden and the International Project.

The meeting confirmed the common belief that there is a substantial preservation problem in the European community, but responses to the crisis vary considerably depending on each country’s economic situation. Understandably, it is difficult to obtain adequate funding for efforts addressing the future at a time of pressing immediate need.

In Germany, 70 to 80 percent of the collections are threatened and 12 to 16 percent are already brittle. Germany is undertaking an all-out effort to address the problem: large-scale microfilming projects are underway, the German Library Institute is conducting studies on cold storage, and the German Research Council is financing work toward a national preservation strategy. The German Library Institute recently published the results of a two-year study, Microforms in Research Libraries, a thorough taking-stock of what has been and what should be done in microfilming.[3]

Greek librarians and archivists are looking to the CEC for guidance, since they have not undertaken surveys of collection damage or research programs. In Danish library collections there are lower levels of acidity than in U.S. libraries, perhaps because of the colder climate. However, many books printed as late as 1975 are already brittle.

Considering that 120 million volumes in France’s libraries need to be treated, it is no surprise that preservation activities there are flourishing. A half-million books are to be filmed by the Bibliotheque de France (the new national library), and mass deacidification will continue at the rate of 4,000 volumes annually in Sable, the site of the French preservation center. French representatives at The Hague confirmed that research is being conducted on a new mass deacidification method by Hoechst, a German chemical company; USSI, a French agency for atomic energy; and the Bibliotheque de France. More details of this method are promised toward the end of 1992, and the French expect that that treatment will be ready for use by 1995.

In Ireland, Trinity College of Dublin undertook a survey of books published between 1840 and 1939; only 16 percent of the collections were judged to need treatment. Trinity College is participating with the British Library in the preservation microfilming program funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Bibliographic records from this project will be contributed to EROMM. In Italy, several institutions are evaluating available deacidification methods, but there is no nationwide survey of library collections nor are there plans to conduct one.

The Ministry of Welfare, Health and Cultural Affairs has taken a leading role in the Netherlands in raising public consciousness concerning paper permanence. Holland has a national plan called DELTA for the preservation of its cultural heritage, including printed and written materials, buildings, sculptures, paintings and other artifacts. A survey of library collections revealed a remarkably low 2.2 percent of brittle books. In Portugal, where all paper is imported, developments abroad are followed with great interest. No formal surveys of library collections have been done, though the Portuguese believe that they have a serious problem. They place much hope in the CEC’s leadership and possibilities for financial assistance.

The British Library is optimistic about a new method of mass deacidification and paper strengthening–polymerization using low intensity gamma rays. Funds are being sought for the construction of a pilot plant. A large-scale collaborative microfilming program is underway at the British Library, Cambridge University and the Bodleian Library. At the Bodleian, materials to be filmed have been chosen from the Library’s collections of modern manuscript papers and from holdings of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century trade journals.

In Sweden, several libraries conducted random sampling surveys; the number of books requiring treatment is roughly the same for all–20 percent. The Swedes advocate the use of virgin fibers for books and recycled fibers for packaging. They also stress the problems of de-inking in the recycling process.

This overview reflects the worldwide concern over deteriorating collections, illustrating how variable the situation is from country to country. However, less advantaged countries such as Spain, Portugal and Greece as well as areas of Latin America, Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe simply cannot afford to place preservation concerns at the top of their agenda. In a welcome new development, wealthier nations are extending a helping hand. The German state government of Niedersachsen, for example, helps fund preservation projects in Morocco’s libraries; the Australian National Library has informally taken on the responsibility of preserving the collections of poorer countries in the region, e.g., Indonesia; and UNESCO is funding preservation assessments in Eastern Europe.

The CEC, which was urged to continue and strengthen initiatives aimed at the preservation of the European cultural heritage, has established several priorities for urgent action in the year ahead. Among the most pressing are to promote the collection and exchange of information using national focal points and existing international specialized organizations; to stimulate training initiatives in conservation for archives and library staff; and to issue a “rousing call” to increase public awareness of the problem.[4]

Countries on other continents are also on the alert. A professor from Waseda University acknowledges:

…many of the imprints [of the Meiji period] show the modernization of Japan and are therefore very important social documents, but they may be lost due to deterioration. According to an investigation of the deterioration of paper by the National Diet Library and others, the deterioration of imprints published since 1880 is severe and it is clear that we have to take action urgently.[5]>

It is noteworthy that the Meiji period coincides almost precisely with what we widely refer to as the acidic period.

In China, librarians and archivists especially in the provinces have been fighting their primary enemies, humidity, fungi and insects for so long that their concerns over acidic paper are secondary. And yet, Chinese libraries are full of brittle materials which are circulated to the point of destruction. At the first meeting of the Library Resources Panel of the Committee on Scholarly Communication with the People’s Republic of China (CSCPRC), held in May 1991, it was agreed to explore the feasibility of a project to enhance the quality of and access to select materials in libraries in China.

The Library Resources Panel appointed a group to visit institutions in China and to discuss the proposal further. The International Project’s participation in the fact-finding mission was sponsored by the Commission, not only to facilitate discussion of preservation aspects of the CSCPRC’s proposal, but to establish contact between the Commission and institutions in China and to assess the possibility of linking activities in China with similar efforts in other countries. A report published by the Commission summarizes the visits to libraries, archives and other institutions.[6]

During a trip through several provinces, the documentary film Slow Fires attracted much attention and created so much interest that efforts were begun to secure funding for the production and distribution of a Chinese version of the film.[7]

Another indication of the growing international preservation movement is UNESCO’s recent announcement:

Known and unknown library and archival treasures which constitute a unique memory for the world have been and continue to be lost through natural calamities, war devastations and from the ravages of climate and weather. The magnitude of the problem of safeguarding this memory is such that it defeats the resources of any single country. An international programme is urgently needed to develop a collective plan of action that would set up institutional mechanisms and determine priorities worldwide.[8]

Unfortunately, acidic paper is not listed by UNESCO among the threats to collections.

Work continues on establishing an international permanent paper standard. The international community deemed the standard used by the U.S. paper manufacturers to be “too imprecise” and initiated work on a separate standard, with the International Standards Organization (ISO) taking the leading role. Rolf Dahlø, Chairman of the ISO Committee for Physical Keeping of Documents, which is responsible for development of the international permanent paper standard (ISO/TC 46/SC 10), reported in a letter to the Commission that a “clear majority” approved the circulation of the committee draft of the standard as a “Draft International Standard,” the last stage before publication. As of May 1992, there were thirteen countries approving the draft, with only one against.

Even more encouraging is the comment by the Secretary of SC 10, Ivar A.L. Hoel:

The ISO draft is very similar to the revised ANSI [U.S.] standard presently under ballot and the two, if they remain unchanged, will be virtually interchangeable and will make use of the same well-known infinity symbol.

Hoel also reported that the ISO draft will be sent to the European Standardization Organization (CEN), which will vote on its acceptance as a European Standard.

As mentioned earlier, several countries are investigating ways to halt the further deterioration of large numbers of acidic books by using a mass deacidification process. Although some libraries have been deacidifying books for years (for example, the National Library of Canada and the Bibliothèque Nationale of France) the process cannot truly be called a “mass” treatment, and there is continued concern abroad about mass deacidification’s effectiveness.

However, there are some promising efforts, including those cited in France and England. In addition, the German National Library commissioned the Battelle Institute to build a second deacidification pilot plant which it hopes will become a cornerstone of its plan to create a national preservation center in Leipzig for all of unified Germany. Libraries abroad were keenly interested when the Library of Congress rejected for adoption all three processes it held under final consideration, and the Swiss Federal Archive has agreed to work with the Library of Congress in pursuing an Action Plan submitted to Congress in May 1992.[9]

For books that are beyond help–brittle to the point of falling apart at the touch–even a safe and effective deacidification treatment is too late; the only remedy is to save the content by transferring it to another medium. An exploratory project in Seville, Spain, described in the Special Section of this report, received substantial foundation support to employ image scanning technology to reformat and make accessible the contents of 45 million documents and 7,000 maps and blueprints from the Archivo General de Indias. Another approach to reformatting is taking hold in some institutions: production of a high-quality microform for archival purposes, to be copied onto digital media as the need for high-speed retrieval arises.

However, the most prevalent reformatting is with microfilm; small, medium and large projects are underway in many countries and the need for an informational infrastructure–bibliographic control–is overwhelming. As noted earlier, progress is being made toward an internationally shared database capacity for bibliographic information about microform masters, but the ideal still eludes our grasp: a worldwide, totally integrated bibliographic register of microform masters, providing easy access to information as to who has reformatted what.

While working toward this goal, the International Project is collecting information about microfilming projects at the collection level. A list to be published this fall includes information from the 30 national libraries that responded to a Commission questionnaire. The results confirm the varied conditions throughout the world. For example, the Helsinki University Library reported extensive microfilming not only of Finnish literature, but also of many special collections of Russian and Latvian newspapers. Large-scale filming of newspapers continues, and it is expected that during the next ten years, approximately one million pages of Russian newspapers will be filmed.[10]

But not every country’s libraries can afford microfilming. The response from the West African Republic of Benin was quite different:

Unfortunately, we do not presently have any unit likely to help us microfilm our collections. Nevertheless, we would appreciate if you could continue sending us your newsletter, which is an appreciable source of information for us.

This response is typical of many less advantaged countries and suggests that we cannot presume that each country will be able to take responsibility for preserving its own imprints. Help for these countries has never been more crucial.

The new information technology, with its flood of new kinds of media such as audio and video tape and computer tapes and disks, has raised major additional problems for librarians around the world. These new media were never designed to be permanent and, in the words of one German librarian, “they may get us into even deeper water than acidic paper.” Librarians and archivists everywhere are concerned about these new challenges, and several of the Commission’s reports addressing these issues were reprinted in full in European journals. There is broad consensus on what a series of demonstration projects in the U.S. made plain: digital preservation depends on copying and not on the survival of the physical media. The management of preserved information will therefore need to become an integral part of the librarian’s and archivist’s duties.

One demonstration project watched with particular interest in many countries is the Commission’s cooperative effort with Cornell University and the Xerox Corporation to digitize brittle books and print them on demand. The project is of interest abroad not just for the technology involved, but for the information it yields regarding finance and management, essential aspects in the transition to electronic storage and dissemination of scholarly information. As with other issues in preservation, the economic aspects dominate the discussion, particularly in countries with an immediate, pressing social agenda.

Another project of interest abroad is Yale University’s effort to establish a system for digitizing existing collections of preservation microfilms so as to enhance both technical and scholarly access to these materials. There is a lively debate concerning the future system of scholarly communication, but a consensus seems to be forming that information services in the foreseeable future will depend upon the judicious use of hybrid systems with their varying functions and requirements. Thus, and this is a view shared particularly in many Western European countries, our objective should be to develop convertibility from medium to medium. That microfilm continues to flourish several years after it was supposedly doomed by optical and compact disks will come as a surprise only to those who confidently predict the demise of every old technology the minute a new one comes along.

During the past four years, the International Project has visited more than a hundred libraries, archives and other institutions in many countries on several continents, and each visit has provided daunting spectacles of tens of thousands of books, journals and newspapers falling apart. However, those entrusted with the guardianship of the printed and written heritage throughout the world–from Chengdu to Warsaw, from Moscow to Caracas–are eager to share information and work together. This is a formidable force in our fight to preserve as much of the human record as possible. The ultimate beneficiary of this record is not only the librarian or the archivist or the scholar. Professor Bernhard Fabian at the Westfalische Wilhelms-Universitat in Munster and author of Handbuch der Historischen Buchbestände[11] reminded us in a conversation that the ultimate user is society–in other words, we will all benefit.

Hans Rütimann, Consultant


1. DAAD Letter, Hochschule und Ausland, 2/89 Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst Königswinter, Germany.

2. “International Register of Microform Masters; Minimum Data Element Requirements” (to be published by the Commission on Preservation and Access, Fall 1992).

3. Deutsches Bibliotheksinstitut, Mikroformen in Wissenschaftlichen Bibliotheken Eine Studie im Auftrag der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft; Berlin, 1991.

4. “Expert Meeting on Conservation of Acid Paper Material and the Use of Permanent Paper,” edited by the National Preservation Office, The Hague, the Netherlands, 1992.

5. Nobuo Yamamoto, “The Meiji Imprints Microform Project (JMSTC),” Paper delivered at the Colloquium on Resources for Japanese Studies, London, September 1988.

6. Hans Rütimann, Preservation and Access in China: Possibilities for Cooperation Washington, D.C.: Commission on Preservation and Access, 1992. CSCPRC is sponsored by the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Academy of Sciences and the Social Science Research Council.

7. Slow Fires: On the preservation of the human record. A Spanish version (voice-over) is available in VHS in either NTSC or PAL formats from the American Film Foundation, Box 2000, Santa Monica, CA 90406, for the same price as the English version.

8. Memory of the World; Safeguarding Rare and Unique Library and Archives Collections, Planning Document UNESCO, Paris, 1992.

9. Library of Congress, Action Plan for the Mass Deacidification Program, Washington, D.C.: May 1992.

1010. “Microfilming Projects Abroad” at the collection level (to be published by the Commission on Preservation and Access, Fall 1992).

1111. Bernhard Fabian, Handbuch der Historischen Buchbestände Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlag AG, 1992.


For the past four years, the Technology Assessment Advisory Committee (TAAC) has been charged with the responsibility for considering the potential of new technologies for the storage, retrieval, capture and dissemination of preserved information, with particular emphasis on electronic formats and media. Last year, committee members–representatives of the industries, publishing ventures and higher education institutions active in this arena–were severely challenged in their task by a flood of advancements on nearly every technological front.

Ongoing exploration of the technical impact of developments in digital imaging and preservation microfilming deepened and broadened. We have investigated not only the potential for each of these technologies, but also the potential for jointly applying them, with their unique strengths and limitations, to complementary preservation and access strategies. A second continuing area of interest, complex in nature, is the provision of materials preserved in digital formats through telecommunication networks. Emerging as a new area for investigation last year was the question of insuring future access to electronic and non-print analog forms that are increasingly being used to record information for research, scholarship, communication and learning.

The technical and operational implications of a large-scale image scanning project in Seville, Spain, were explored in a report published after visits to the archives site by International Project Consultant Hans Rütimann and TAAC member Stuart Lynn. This effort to employ image scanning to reformat and make accessible the contents of the 45 million documents and 7,000 maps and blueprints of the Archivo General de Indias was selected for investigation because it addresses an entire range of new issues and problems involved in using technology to capture, organize and make accessible an unusual collection of materials.

Since reports on the status of technologies can provide only a snapshot at one point in time of the moving targets they are attempting to describe, two previously anticipated publications have required a series of updates prior to their release. An analytical report by Don Willis comparing micrographics and the rapidly developing newer digital technologies in an overall strategy for preservation and access has been updated to reflect the experience of new research projects and technology releases and is now scheduled for the fall of 1992.

Likewise, TAAC’s very ambitious exploration of the technical, economic and policy implications for access to preserved materials in digital formats via emerging local, regional, national and even international telecommunication networks is still underway. Rapid technological development, national legislative action, and new organizational and investment commitments have made the task of producing this report daunting and complicated. The effort has gone through several review sessions and is expected to be completed for publication within the next six months.

Moving into the forefront of TAAC’s agenda in the past year is the question of how to insure access in the future to the electronic and non-print analog forms that play an increasingly dominant role in communication and education. While engulfed in the transition from a long-established, paper environment to one including electronic technologies, preservation programs have understandably focused on the massive print collections deteriorating in libraries throughout the world. However, as noted in the introduction, as we increasingly reformat into digital form materials originally published or produced in an analog medium, access to these digital surrogates must be assured in our preservation efforts.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. The challenge before us is the transitory nature of the vast and growing flow of information being produced and stored in various digital formats, as well as the short life cycle of non-print analog formats such as video tapes, sound tapes and the like. By and large it would seem that much of this material is being produced and used with little concerted and coordinated responsibility for maintaining access in the future.

The introduction to this report calls for us to reconceptualize preservation strategies as we move into a vastly altered landscape of electronic technology. This past year, in a lead article in AIIM’s INFORM (Association for Information and Image Management), we discussed the ethical and technical considerations of the preservation of knowledge in a digital environment. We sounded the alarm over the need to determine how to insure future access to the growing digital output on a global basis of a dimension and variety hitherto undreamed of and upon which a growing population is increasingly dependent. The task of simply providing equitable and convenient or at least effective access is challenging enough. The task of insuring future generations’ access to today’s and tomorrow’s output is even more daunting in the face of continually changing technology and production that characterize this new era.

TAAC recognizes the need to understand and manage the substantially shorter life cycle of the new storage media as well as the obsolescence of the systems by which we gain access, or “read” the digital format, thus requiring periodic reformatting or “refreshing” to take advantage of new and undoubtedly cheaper and higher-capacity devices of the future. In addition, however, is the equally challenging necessity to insure that all systems for the creation, storage, transmission and use of digital information are designed for compatible access and exchange. Agreements on protocols for document structure and both network and workstation access will be critical. Many parties will necessarily be involved, since agreement must be achieved at the point of initial conversion to digital form, whether it is a conversion from scanning a print document or in the original creation and electronic publishing.

An initial report on the management of this process has been drafted for fall 1992 publication. As with all TAAC reports, its purpose will be to stimulate attention, study and understanding of the issues and to foster the kind of collaborative action regarding digital preservation that has been so successful in mobilizing efforts to deal with print preservation.

TAAC has continued its efforts to identify, support,and facilitate demonstration projects to test the technical and economic feasibility of the application of the latest commercially available technologies to preservation and access needs. A first report on an initial 18-month demonstration project undertaken at Cornell University sponsored by that university, the Xerox Corporation and the Commission was published this past year as a special supplement to the November/December 1991 newsletter. The final report on this project, which involved the digital scanning of 1,000 volumes in Cornell’s Olin Library and placing print surrogates of original volumes back on the shelves, is scheduled for release in late 1992. Future phases involve testing electronic distribution through networks to other universities as part of an evolving multi-institutional effort.

Eight universities are helping develop this informal consortium; last year, Stanford University and the University of Southern California joined Cornell, Harvard, Pennsylvania State, Princeton, Tennessee and Yale Universities in discussions of collaborative testing of new digital technologies. While each institution has been charged with developing its own objectives and program, the efforts of the eight institutions will be coordinated under the guidance of the Commission, and there will be interchange among university teams throughout the process.

Each institution has selected a unique set of materials from its collections that needs to be preserved and that provides unique requirements, attributes and parameters. Various equipment and software will be tested and used at different institutions. Activities are expected to include:

  • converting large quantities of preservation microfilm to digital images,
  • providing intra- and inter-institutional access to stored images,
  • digital scanning of print material and providing access both electronically at workstations and in printed form in new volumes returned to the shelves,
  • microfilming from digitally scanned print materials, and
  • CD-ROM reformatting for electronic access.

It is anticipated that these collaborative and individual institutional efforts will extend over the next three years, assuming funding can be found.

Rowland C.W. Brown, Consultant

* * *

In connection with its exploration of the use of microfilm for reformatting of text-and-image materials, the Commission monitored ongoing contracts for research and demonstration projects funded by The Getty Grant Program. The projects–tied to the work of the Joint Task Force on Text and Image also supported by The Getty Grant Program–involve research on the dark stability of color microfilm by the Image Permanence Institute (IPI) of the Rochester (NY) Institute of Technology and the development of a color microfilming capacity by MAPS The MicrogrAphic Preservation Service, Bethlehem, PA. During the year, a new project recommended by the Joint Task Force was added to the MAPS agenda: to test the viability of a combination of black-and-white microfilm, color microfilm and CD-ROMs for preservation of and access to brittle books and journals containing a mixture of text, illustrations, fold-out maps and other variant combinations of text and image. Completion of this project is scheduled for late fall of 1992.


The Commission’s concern that preservation strategies and decisions be informed by the needs and interests of users of preserved materials continues to be implemented by the activities of its scholarly advisory committees, which have now been established in six fields. Composed of both scholars and librarians, these committees advise the Commission on priorities for preservation in their respective fields and also function as information carriers to and liaisons with the wider scholarly community, stimulating interest and involvement in the preservation process.

In the year just ended, one more of these committees – the Joint Task Force on Text and Image – completed and published its report entitled Preserving the Illustrated Text. This task force was established in the spring of 1990 to review the characteristics of images and their uses in the various fields of scholarship that are dependent upon text-cum-image for their advancement: art history, archaeology, architecture, botany and zoology, geography, geology and medicine, among others. The task force was also charged to analyze the problems of material conservation and to suggest strategies for identification and selection of items to be conserved as artifacts or converted to other media. Finally, the rapidly changing electronic technology for image capture, storage, retrieval and networked access (to say nothing of “image enhancement”) made the task force attend to the relation between scholarly needs and alternative technological capacities.

The task force met three times and heard not only the views of its own diverse membership but also testimony from experts and specialists in other fields. Its report recognizes the challenging complexity of preserving text and image in different fields and eras, but also notes the heartening fact that much if not most of the material at greatest risk (because of its age) can be successfully captured and stored on high quality, high contrast black-and-white microfilm–a readily available, well proven technology. At the same time, the task force concluded, such microfilming would not be adequate for certain kinds of later-published materials, including half-tone engravings and color plates. Further progress in dealing with such materials would require two steps: (1) the exploration, through field trials, of alternative technologies such as electronic scanning, continuous tone black-and-white microfilm, and color microfilm; and (2) surveys of major collections to determine with greater precision how much of what types of illustrations occur in publications of various fields at various times in the past.

The past year also saw The University of Notre Dame ‘s publication of Preserving Libraries for Medieval Studies, a report of the Commission-sponsored colloquium on preservation issues in this field, held at the university in 1990. This colloquium of two dozen scholars and librarians heard and discussed papers that recognized the fundamental bibliographic problem of the field, namely, that the topics and publications of interest cut across conventional bibliographic classifications, and thus add to the complexity of both deciding priorities for preservation and locating such items in actual collections. To be sure, this problem is not confined to medieval studies. It is found in many interdisciplinary fields such as foreign area studies. Some specialized libraries, the East Asian Studies Library at Columbia, for example, or the medieval collections at Notre Dame or Toronto, may help to reduce the locator problem but even these renowned collections are virtually guaranteed not to contain all of the important work in these fields.

One of the most important outcomes of the Notre Dame colloquium was the appointment by the Medieval Academy of a Committee on Library Preservation, which will continue until at least 1995. As noted above, a major objective of the scholarly advisory committee program is to stimulate the interest and enlist the support of working scholars.

While librarians have been aware of the existence of the brittle book problem for several decades, and have understood its magnitude for at least a dozen years, scholars are usually aware simply that some of the older books they use themselves are falling apart, with pages turning brown and paper flaking to the floor when they are turned. Making clear to scholars that their own perhaps narrow specialty is far from the only area affected is an early task in the development of a scholarly advisory committee. This awareness usually leads to the desire to spread the word – to inform colleagues of the impending disaster and to rouse them to action. Often, the professional association(s) in a field are the medium of choice for disseminating the message.

The worlds of scholar and university librarian overlap less than a casual observer might think. While there are many university librarians who are also familiar with the scholarly work in a given field, many more are not. Correspondingly, for many scholars the library is a somewhat inconvenient-to-use storehouse for whose contents the scholar takes little responsibility beyond expressing concern when a wanted item is missing. Scholars draw distinctions among portions of their literatures that are more narrow and refined than the classification categories library catalogers use; and scholars are almost wholly unfamiliar with the elaborate technical apparatus that modern research libraries have evolved for identifying, locating, borrowing and exchanging materials–currently with the aid of computer-based systems.

One of the early tasks in every scholarly advisory committee has been to narrow this gap in understanding. It is necessary to assure scholars that the modern bibliographic systems can prevent duplication in preservation actions and can make it almost impossible for two large libraries to preserve the same item unknowingly. And librarians need to be aware that hardly ever will a group of scholars draw a boundary around priority material for preservation that corresponds to any existing Dewey or Library of Congress classification number.

Members of the scholarly advisory committees have pointed out that distinctions among disciplines and fields of research have developed over centuries – everything grew out of what was once simply called philosophy – and continue to evolve. So do methods and objectives of scholarship. It is important to take note of this constant glacier-like creep and to adopt, as far as possible, preservation strategies that abet, or at least do not inhibit, the use of the past for the purposes of the future. As the joint task force’s final report points out, preservation choices must depend on “a thoughtful and judicious assessment of scholarly as well as practical considerations, of the needs of the broad constituency for materials requiring preservation, and of future as well as present demands on them.”

Henry W. Riecken, Senior Program Advisor

* * *

The final report of the Scholarly Advisory Committee on Modern Language and Literature, Preserving the Literary Heritage, described in last year’s annual report, was issued in July 1991 and distributed broadly by both the Commission and the Modern Language Association (MLA). The December 1991 annual convention of the MLA included a president’s breakfast for division committees and discussion groups and the premier showing of the Commission’s new modular brittle book display. The final report calls for further education of colleagues about the magnitude of the brittle books program, encouragement of Congressional appropriation of money for preservation, and the use of MLA as a clearinghouse for recommendations regarding collections considered most important for preservation.

The Medieval Academy of America Committee on Library Preservation, whose meeting costs were supported in part by the Commission, received a three-year grant of $629,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to preserve the contents of 12,794 embrittled scholarly volumes. The grant was awarded to The University of Notre Dame, which houses The Medieval Institute and its library. At its annual meeting in March 1992, the Medieval Academy sponsored a session on preservation that included talks and a showing of the film Slow Fires; the Academy also displayed the Commission’s new modular panel exhibit at the International Congress of Medieval Art Meeting in April 1992.

We confront the danger of historical amnesia…We cannot afford to lose our cultural heritage as it is preserved in print

Dr. James P. McPherson, Edwards Professor of American History,
Princeton University, and author of the Pulitzer Prize winning
Battle Cry of Freedom, testifying on behalf of the National Endowment for the Humanities, April 18, 1991.


The Commission works closely with the National Endowment for the Humanities, the executive agency chosen by Congress to administer its program of public funding for preservation. As a part of that program, the Endowment is managing a massive brittle books effort to reformat three million books and materials of unique scholarly and historical value that are deteriorating due to the acidic content of their paper.

The brittle books effort, proposed to operate over a 20-year period, has enabled us to disaggregate the overwhelming challenge of saving an estimated 320 million crumbling books into manageable segments, separating out that which is immediately possible to accomplish given the current status of technology, staffing and knowledge. After four years of leadership by the Endowment’s Division of Preservation and Access (formerly the Office of Preservation), some 450,000 brittle books and documents are being microfilmed with the cooperation of over 50 libraries, archives and museums.

The continued success of the brittle books endeavor depends upon sustained support by both participating libraries and the federal government. With the upgrading of the Office of Preservation into the Division of Preservation and Access, total funds available for preservation and access activities in fiscal year 1991 were $26.77 million. This total included funds shifted from other programs to the new division. However, libraries and archives were funded at $1.1 million below the original 20-year brittle books plan budget. To meet the $20.3 million target for fiscal year 1993 will require an additional $3.7 million. In January 1992, the Commission provided informational assistance for a congressional briefing intended to increase the visibility of and support for the NEH preservation program prior to fiscal year 1993 hearings. The National Humanities Alliance (NHA), Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and American Library Association cosponsored the event, which was attended by 40 persons including House and Senate Committee members and their staffs. Speakers were: Patricia Battin on the value of the NEH program; M. Stuart Lynn (a member of the Technology Assessment Advisory Committee) on the application of digital technologies for preservation, Robert Oakley (author of Copyright and Preservation: A Serious Issue in Need of a Thoughtful Solution) on copyright, Kathleen Moretto Spencer (chair of the College Libraries Committee) on the experiences of small colleges, and William Studer (library director at Ohio State University) on university participation. Commission Board member Sidney Verba moderated the panel.

In April, the Commission cosponsored testimony on behalf of 1992 appropriations for the Endowment in cooperation with ARL and NHA. Merrily Taylor, University Librarian, Brown University, provided the testimony as a representative of one of the thousands of academic and research libraries in the U.S. benefitting from the NEH program.

Federal support for preservation and access also is provided through Title II-C, administered by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Library Programs/Office of Educational Research and Improvement. The National Historical Publications and Records Commission, National Archives and Records Administration, also funds preservation and access projects.

To gather data on the quality, storage conditions and location of microform master negatives created under the NEH and other filming programs, the Commission contracted with the Research Libraries Group, Inc., to survey 750 micropublishers on microform production and quality control, storage and inspection of first- generation master negative film, and storage containers and enclosures. The project is using a survey instrument designed and pretested by the American Association of Law Libraries, also under contract to the Commission. Responses from that pretest indicated there can be major differences between the standards used for the production and storage of master negatives for commercial purposes and for preservation. Survey results are expected in fall 1992.


One of the Commission’s continuing goals has been to encourage the integration of archives into nationwide preservation efforts. The lack of a generally accepted, systematic approach to the selection of archival materials for preservation has been a particular problem. As Larry Hackman, Archivist of the State of New York, pointed out in a paper prepared in 1991 for the Scholarly Advisory Committee on History:

In contrast to published information, no similar initiatives have been taken to select and preserve systematically even the most important unique archives and manuscripts nationwide…. A review of Federal preservation grants, for example, suggests the absence of priority or pattern and offers little assurance that the most important collections are being preserved. Decisions appear to be made without any formal or commonly accepted framework for assessing their intrinsic value, the importance of the information they contain relative to information in other records or collections, and their physical condition and the costs of preservation. This is the case even though leaders in preservation, archives and research acknowledge that, if action is not soon taken, the information in documents critical to future research will be lost forever to Americans and to the world.

In July of 1991 the Commission initiated a project to develop guidelines to assist archives and manuscript repositories in evaluating the preservation needs of their holdings more systematically and in setting priorities for preservation action. The project is also intended to encourage archivists to integrate preservation considerations more fully into every aspect of archival management.

Two task forces and an advisory committee were appointed. The first task force was charged to review appraisal guidelines and practice to determine their applicability to selection of important collections for preservation. It was also to consider how best to include issues related to current or eventual preservation needs in the appraisal of new acquisitions. The second task force was asked to examine existing theory and practice related to the concept of documentation strategy in order to determine if they could be integrated into a systematic methodology for selection for preservation. The advisory committee was asked to review the work of the two task forces and make recommendations on both the form and content of the final report.

An award from the Research Fellowship Program for Study of Modern Archives at the Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, will support a meeting in July 1992 for this review. The draft report to be considered at that session consists of two main sections: the first provides an overview of the interrelationship between preservation and archival management and outlines several basic principles that should inform the development of preservation programs in archives; the second consists of a survey instrument that will allow a repository to determine both the value and the exposure to risk of all or a portion of its collections. By weighing value against risk, the archives will be able to assign a priority for preservation action to each collection surveyed. The report should therefore provide both a conceptual framework and a systematic methodology for making preservation decisions about archives, manuscripts, photographs, sound recordings and other non-print media.

Margaret S. Child, Consultant


The communications program seeks to promote through its own publications and activities and through other organizational channels and information networks a clear, visionary, yet realistic preservation and access agenda. Advocacy among previously uncommitted constituencies encourages new interest and participation in collaborative explorations, while authoritative publications and educational opportunities advance mutual understanding of evolving issues and maintain close ties with constituents whose collections are the focus of the national preservation effort.

The newsletter--distributed monthly to a targeted mailing list of nearly 2,000 institutions and individuals–served as a primary vehicle for advocacy and awareness-heightening. Several articles chronicled the use of alkaline paper for essential documents and records in the U.S. and other parts of the world and promoted the adoption of standards for permanent paper both in the U.S. and internationally. After identifying a particularly high interest in paper research, a special article was prepared outlining the history of scientific inquiries into paper as an information storage medium. The newsletter also promoted regional, statewide, disciplinary and other cooperative preservation projects that operate in tandem with national and international efforts; for example, an insert in one issue contained excerpts from the final report of the American Association of Law Libraries Special Committee on Preservation Needs of Law Libraries.

Foundation support enabled the Commission to continue complimentary distribution of its written materials throughout the U.S. and the world. In addition to issuing eight new reports, the Commission granted permission to a number of scholarly associations to reprint publications, and Commission staff collaborated in the development of several journal articles.

To extend the awareness of preservation needs and goals to a larger constituency of scholars and allied organizations, the Commission inaugurated an exhibit lending service, supplementing its original “giant brittle book” display with a second modular exhibit. The new free-standing exhibit draws attention to the problem of preserving information through a full-color, five- by six-foot photograph of a crumbling page of text (supplied by the National Library of Medicine), with blank side panels for the addition of customized materials. The two exhibits were used by professional associations, scholarly societies, universities and colleges, libraries, archives and other organizations for meetings and conferences.

Although general reference and information services are not a formal part of the Commission’s activities, the communications program responded to requests from 119 academic institutions, 41 public and state organizations, 53 private non-profit associations and 38 commercial libraries in the first six months of 1992. Internationally, the Commission fielded queries from 30 organizations in 12 countries during that same period. The Commission continued to lend Slow Fires, the award- winning video on the brittle books challenge, with an increasing number of copies made available for showings in Europe and China.

Two library school students whose professional education included an internship worked with the communications program to develop reports. Working Together–Case Studies in Cooperative Preservation by Condict Gaye Stevenson was accepted for publication in a preservation anthology. Christine De Bow Klein conducted a study of access to and preservation of research library materials used by jewelry historians, which confirmed the need for proactive measures to ensure the survival of their contents. The report, Jewelry History: Strategies for Preservation and a Core Bibliography, encourages jewelry historians, appraisers, collectors and connoisseurs to take an interest in the preservation of these sources. Both Stevenson and Klein were completing their masters degree work at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at The Catholic University of America.


The Task Force on Preservation Education, charged with investigating professional education needs for the next decade and identifying ways to meet future challenges, issued a series of recommendations in its final report to the Commission that acknowledge preservation as a primary obligation of librarianship and archival enterprises. The task force recommended that library schools consider preservation not only as a set of techniques, but as an attitude, and that every student be acquainted with a broad view of preservation issues in the core curriculum. Faculty development programs with a more holistic view of preservation, accelerated research on preservation issues within doctoral programs, and cooperative development of continuing education programs and management training also were recommended.

Rather than teach students to conserve library materials, the task force concluded “we must instead arm them with the analytical techniques they must draw on to decide what should be preserved…; when to take responsibility for preservation and when to support another institution better prepared to assume the responsibility…; and how to evaluate new technologies as they emerge….” The report has received considerable comment and interest, although much remains to be done to implement its recommendations.

Funds from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation helped support a week-long management workshop for college librarians, developed cooperatively with the Southeastern Library Network, Atlanta, GA. This workshop was designed in close consultation with the Commission’s College Libraries Committee and conducted in July 1991 with 16 participants. Individual responsibility for learning, flexible instruction tailored to college libraries’ needs, and an emphasis on group work applying management principles to practical products all contributed to the event’s positive ratings. Support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation made it possible for the Commission to provide a competitive scholarship for an individual from a small college unable to support the tuition. Several months after the workshop, the College Libraries Committee conducted follow-up evaluations with participants and library directors. Based on the evaluations, the Committee recommended holding a second seminar in 1993, to be conducted on a full cost-recovery basis.


In an investigation related to the use of digital technology for the preservation of and access to brittle books, the College Libraries Committee is exploring the possibility of using digital technology to enhance access to out-of-print books. The committee is developing preliminary plans for a feasibility study of the economics and technology involved in reprinting limited numbers of academic books needed by college libraries using high resolution scanners and on-demand printing equipment. The ensuing feasibility study to determine the advisability of developing a non-profit corporation to produce the books would investigate costs, hardware and software requirements, copyright and digital database management.

This active committee also wrote journal articles, made presentations at conferences, and maintained a regular column in the C&RL News, published by the Association of College and Research Libraries, which encourages colleagues to become involved in opportunities for collaborative action.

Institutions with preservation programs recognize that they must be able to accurately interpret scientific information in order to use it effectively in their planning and decision making. Preservation administrators also must be able to influence future scientific research agendas to help find solutions to particular technical problems. A Commission-appointed review panel of librarians, archivists and conservators from eight institutions provided comments on scientific research that were published in the Commission’s newsletter. The panel reviewed reports dealing with environmental conditions, microenvironments, fumigants, photocopying, paper aging, factors affecting paper deterioration, and the preservation of safety film.

Meanwhile, the Commission Board approved the development and conduct of an invitational science workshop for preservation managers. The workshop was seen as the first of a possible series on the use of scientific research information in preservation decision making and the solution of critical preservation issues. At the two-day event scheduled for September 1992, leading scientists active in preservation research will join with 14 preservation managers in interactive seminar discussions and lectures. Topics will include approaches to conducting scientific research, how to use scientific information, specific technical subjects, and cooperative approaches for setting research agendas for the future. The Commission is assuming costs for the development and operation of the workshop, and institutions are assuming travel costs for their staff members.

Concern with deteriorating non-book materials expressed by institutions with the responsibility for maintaining these collections for future access prompted the Commission to distribute an expanded version of an article on audio preservation prepared initially for the National Library of

Canada’s National Library News. The paper, The Care and Handling of Recorded Sound Materials provided advice on preserving audio collections concentrating primarily on the nature and composition of the recording media.

A strategic preservation planning study funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation at the University of Pennsylvania determined that it is possible in principle to establish a preservation program that derives a significant percentage of operating staff, space and equipment from external contractors, but to do so requires effective working relationships, an understanding of the economic considerations for contractors, and appropriate involvement of internal library staff. A report from the study, prepared under contract to the Commission, provides guidelines and data of interest to other institutions.

Institutional explorations with mass deacidification received continuing coverage in the Commission’s newsletter through a series of articles on testing and small-scale deacidification efforts of the Library of Congress, Harvard University, the Association of Research Libraries and the 13-member Committee on Institutional Cooperation libraries.

If these are the worst of times for our collections, they are the best of times for access.

“The Bionic Library,” Harold Billings, in Library Journal,
October 15, 1991



July 1, 1991 – June 30, 1992


The Commission on Preservation and Access Annual Report, 1990- 1991.

The Commission on Preservation and Access Brochure (revised – June 1992).

The Commission on Preservation and Access Newsletters: nos. 36 – 46 (July 1991 – June 1992).

Klein, Christine De Bow. Jewelry History: A Core Bibliography in Support of Preservation (February 1992). $12.00.

Miller, J. Hillis. Preserving the Literary Heritage: The Final Report of the Scholarly Advisory Committee on Modern Language and Literature (July 1991).

Preserving the Illustrated Text: Report of the Joint Task Force on Text and Image (April 1992). $10.00

Preservation Education Task Force Report. August 1, 1991 (insert in October 1991 Commission newsletter).

Review and Assessment Committee Final Report (September 1991).

Rütimann, Hans. Preservation and Access in China: Possibilities for Cooperation (March 1992). $5.00.

Rütimann, Hans, and M. Stuart Lynn. Computerization Project of the Archivo General de Indias, Seville, Spain (March 1992). $5.00.

Stevenson, Condict Gaye. Working Together: Case Studies in Cooperative Preservation (September 1991). $5.00.

St-Laurent, Gilles. The Care and Handling of Recorded Sound Materials (September 1991).

University of Pennsylvania Libraries. Report on the Preservation Planning Project (September 1991).

Commission sponsors receive all publications on a complimentary basis. For all others, reports are available free unless a price is listed.


Battin, Patricia. “Brittle Books.” In English Today 29 8, no. 1 (Jan. 1992): 41-47.

Battin, Patricia. “The Commission on Preservation and Access.” In Advances in Preservation and Access, Volume 1, edited by Barbra Bucker Higginbotham and Mary E. Jackson. Westport, CT: Meckler Corporation, in press.

Brown, Rowland C.W. “Mixed Microform and Digital.” Inform: The Magazine of Information and Image Management 5, issue 9 (October 1991): 10-13.


Hazen, Dan. The Production and Bibliographic Control of Latin American Microforms in the United States (June 1991). Reprinted in Microform Review 20, no. 4 (Fall 1991): 141-166.

Kenney, Anne R., and Lynne K. Personius. “Update on Digital Techniques.” (insert – November/December 1991 Newsletter). Reprinted in Advances in Preservation and Access, Volume 1, edited by Barbra Buckner Higginbotham and Mary E. Jackson. Westport, CT: Meckler Corporation, in press.

Lesk, Michael. Image Formats for Preservation and Access: A Report of the Technology Assessment Advisory Committee to the Commission on Preservation and Access (July 1990). Reprinted by the Commission on Preservation and Access in March 1992.

Lesk, Michael. Image Formats for Preservation and Access: A Report of the Technology Assessment Advisory Committee to the Commission on Preservation and Access (July 1990). Reprinted in Microform Review 21, no. 1 (Winter 1992): 17-24.

Meredith, Willis C., and Naomi Ronen. American Association of Law Libraries/Research Libraries Group Microform Master Survey: Report on the Survey Form Pretest to the Commission on Preservation and Access, September 11, 1990 (insert – November/December 1990 newsletter). Reprinted in Microform Review 21, no. 1 (Winter 1992): 33-41.

Stevenson, Condict Gaye. Working Together: Case Studies in Cooperative Preservation (September 1991). Reprinted inAdvances in Preservation and Access, Volume 1, edited by Barbra Buckner Higginbotham and Mary E. Jackson. Westport, CT: Meckler Corporation, in press.

Waters, Donald J. From Microfilm to Digital Imagery. A Report of the Yale University Library to the Commission on Preservation and Access (June 1991). Reprinted in European Research Libraries Cooperation (ERLC), the Quarterly of the Ligue des Bibliothèques Europeénnes de Recherche (LIBER) 1, no. 3 (1992): 239-280.


Brilliant, Richard. “Slow-Burning Books, A Fast-Disappearing Heritage.” Art Bulletin, March 1992.

Jordan, Sophia K., ed. Preserving Libraries for Medieval Studies: Colloquium on Preservation Issues in Medieval Studies, March 25-26, 1990. Sponsored by the Commission on Preservation and Access. Notre Dame: University Libraries, University of Notre Dame, 1991.

Thaler-Carter, Ruth E. “On the Cutting Edge: Upgrading Campus Libraries for New Technologies.” Facilities Manager (The Official Publication of APPA: The Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers) 8, no. 2 (Spring 1992):18-24.



Margaret S. Child (Chair)
Commission on Preservation and Access

Evelyn Frangakis
Director, Preservation Management Training Program
Society of American Archivist

Larry J. Hackman
New York State Archives and Records Administration

Anne R. Kenney
Assistant Director, Department of Preservation and Conservation, John M. Olin Library
Cornell University

James M. O’Toole
Professor, History Department
University of Massachusetts at Boston

Helen W. Samuels
Director, Archives
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Arthur Norberg
Director, Charles Babbage Institute
University of Minnesota

William D. Schaefer
Professor of English Emeritus
University of California, Los Angeles

David H. Stam (Chair)
University Librarian
Syracuse University

L. Yvonne Wulff
Assistant Director for Collection Management, University Library
University of Michigan


Willis E. Bridegam
Librarian of the College
Amherst College

Barbara J. Brown
University Librarian
Washington and Lee University

Joel Clemmer
Library Director
Macalester College

David J. Cohen
Dean of Libraries
College of Charleston

Caroline M. Coughlin
Library Director
Drew University

Michael J. Haeuser
Head Librarian
Gustavus Adolphus College

Jacquelyn Ann McCoy (resigned 10/91)
College Librarian
Occidental College

Kathleen Moretto Spencer (Chair)
Associate Vice President for Academic Resources and College Librarian
Franklin & Marshall College


Millicent D. Abell
University Librarian
Yale University

Nancy Cline
Dean of University Libraries
Pennsylvania State University

Richard De Gennaro
Roy E. Larson Librarian of Harvard College
Harvard University

Richard Ferguson
University Director, Computing and Information Systems
Yale University

Stephen C. Hall
Director, Office for Information Technology
Harvard University

Fred Harris
Vice Chancellor for Computing and Telecommunications
University of Tennessee

Paula Kaufman
Dean of Libraries
University of Tennessee

Donald Koepp
University Librarian
Princeton University

Peter Lyman
University Librarian and Dean
University of Southern California

M. Stuart Lynn
Vice President, Information Technologies
Cornell University

Salvatore Meringolo
Assistant Dean and Head, Collections and Reference Services, University Library
Pennsylvania State University

Alain Seznec
University Librarian
Cornell University

Robert L. Street
Vice President for Libraries and Information Resources
Stanford University

Lee Varian
Director, Systems and Technical Support, Computing and Information Technology
Princeton University

Donald J. Waters
Head, Library Systems Office
Yale University


Nancy S. Allen
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Thomas C. Battle
Director, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center
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
Associate Professor, Department of the History of Art
University of Pennsylvania

Janet Buerger
Harvard University Extension

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

Anne R. Kenney
Assistant Director, Department of Preservation and Conservation, John M. Olin Library
Cornell University

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

M. Stuart Lynn (Liaison from Technology Assessment Advisory Committee)
Vice President, Information Technologies
Cornell University

Katharine Martinez
The Winterthur Library

Robert G. Neiley
Robert Neiley Architects

R. Nicholas Olsberg
Head of Collections
Canadian Centre for Architecture

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

Donald Posner
Professor, Institute of Fine Arts
New York University


Margaret M. Byrnes
Head, Preservation Section
National Library of Medicine

Ellen Cunningham-Kruppa
Preservation Officer General Libraries
University of Texas at Austin

Richard Frieder
Head, Preservation Department, University Library
Northwestern University Library

Kenneth E. Harris
Director for Preservation
Library of Congress

Carolyn Clark Morrow
Malloy-Rabinowitz Preservation Librarian, University Library
Harvard University

Barclay Ogden
Head, Conservation Department, University Library
University of California, Berkeley

Christine Ward
Chief, Bureau of Archival Services
New York State Archives and Records Administration


Nancy S. Allen
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Elizabeth Boone
Director of Pre-Columbian Studies
Dumbarton Oaks

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

Marvin Eisenberg
Professor of Art History Emeritus
University of Michigan

Lorenz Eitner
Osgood Hooker Professor Emeritus, Department of Art
Stanford University

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

Deirdre C. Stam
Professor, School of Library and Information Science
The Catholic University of America


Margaret S. Child
Commission on Preservation and Access

Larry J. Hackman
New York State Archives and Records Administration

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

Anna Nelson
Professor, Department of History
American University

Emiliana P. Noether
Professor of History Emerita
University of Connecticut

Mary Beth Norton
Mary Donlon Alger Professor, History Department
Cornell University

David H. Stam
University Librarian
Syracuse University


Steven Horwitz
Curator, Robbins Collection, School of Law
University of California, Berkeley

Mark D. Jordan
Associate Professor, The Medieval Institute
University of Notre Dame

Christopher Kleinhenz
Professor, Medieval Studies Program
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Lilian M. C. Randall
Research Curator of Manuscripts
Walters Art Gallery

Susanne F. Roberts (Chair)
Humanities Bibliographer, Sterling Memorial Library
Yale University

Fred C. Robinson
Professor, Department of English
Yale University

Jan M. Ziolkowski
Professor, Department of Comparative Literature
Harvard University


Emory Elliott
Presidential Chair of English
University of California, Riverside

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

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research
Harvard University

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
Chairman, Department of English
University of Chicago

Rainer Nagele
Professor, Department of German
Johns Hopkins University

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


Frank Boles
Director, Clarke Historical Library
Central Michigan University

Paul Conway
Head, Preservation Department, Sterling Memorial Library
Yale University

Edie Hedlin
Archival Consultant

Robert Sink (Chair)
Archivist/Records Manager
New York Public Library Archives

Sarah S. Wagner
Photograph Conservator, Conservation Laboratory
Library of Congress

Christine Ward
Chief, Bureau of Archival Services
New York State Archives and Records Administration


Bruce H. Bruemmer
Archivist, Charles Babbage Institute
University of Minnesota

Richard J. Cox
Professor, School of Library and Information Science
University of Pittsburgh

Timothy L. Ericson (Chair)
Director of Archives and Special Collections Golda Meir Library
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Karen Garlick
Senior Conservator
National Archives and Records Administration


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

David B. Gracy II
Associate Dean and Governor Bill Daniel Professor in Archival Enterprise, 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
The Catholic University of America

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


Rowland C. W. Brown (Chair)
Commission on Preservation and Access

Adam Hodgkin (resigned)
Managing Director
Cherwell Scientific Publishing Limited

Douglas E. van Houweling
Vice Provost for Information Technology
University of Michigan

Michael Lesk
Division Manager, Computer Science Research

Peter Lyman
University Librarian and Dean
University of Southern California

M. Stuart Lynn
Vice President, Information Technologies
Cornell University

Robert Spinrad
Vice President, Technology Analysis and Development
Xerox Corporation

Robert L. Street
Vice President for Libraries and Information Resources
Stanford University


American Association for the Advancement of Science
Karen B. Levitan

American Council of Learned Societies
John Howe

American Library Association
Connie Brooks

American Philosophical Association
David A. Hoekema

American Theological Library Association
Albert E. Hurd

Association of American Universities
John C. Vaughn

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
Kenneth E. Harris

National Agricultural Library
Leslie A. Kulp

National Archives and Records Administration
Alan Calmes

National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators
Lou Bellardo (beginning 9/91)

National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges
J. Dennis O’Connor (resigned 8/91)

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
Anne P. Diffendahl (beginning 8/91)



Millicent D. Abell
University Librarian
Yale University

Henriette D. Avram
Associate Librarian for Collection Services
Library of Congress

Patricia Battin
Commission on Preservation and Access

Billy E. Frye (Chair)
Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
Emory University

Barbara Goldsmith
New York Public Library

James F. Govan
University Librarian
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

David B. Gracy II
Associate Dean and Governor Bill Daniel Professor in Archival Enterprise, Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Texas at Austin

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

J. L. Heilbron
Vice Chancellor
University of California, Berkeley

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

Donald S. Lamm
W.W. Norton & Company

W. David Penniman
Council on Library Resources

Sidney Verba
Harvard University Library


Patricia Battin

Patricia Cece (resigned 6/92)
Communications Assistant

Pamela M. Davis
Administrative Assistant

Linda J. Hutter

Rebecca Kelly (beginning 7/92)
Communications Assistant

Maxine K. Sitts
Program Officer


Rowland C. W. Brown
Technology Assessment

Margaret S. Child
Non-Print Materials

Henry W. Riecken
Scholarly Advisory Committees

Hans Rütimann
International Project

1400 16th Street, NW, Suite 740
Washington, DC 20036

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 provide enhanced access to scholarly information.

Additional copies are available at no cost while supplies last. Submitted to ERIC (Educational Resources Information Center).

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