The Commission on Preservation and Access
Task Force Formed to Study Archiving of Digital Information
The Commission and the Research Libraries Group, Inc. (RLG) of Mountain View, CA, have jointly formed a task force to investigate the archiving of digital information, taking into account broad organizational, legal, and economic issues, as well as technical concerns. M. Stuart Lynn, Commission president, and James Michalko, president of RLG, announced the formation of the group and named its co-chairs: Don Waters, Associate University Librarian,Yale University, and John Garrett, Director of Information Resources at the Corporation for National Research Initiatives.
The preamble to the group’;s charge describes the context for the task force:
“Continued access indefinitely into the future of records stored in digital electronic form cannot under present circumstances be guaranteed within acceptable limits. Although loss of data associated with deterioration of storage media is an important consideration, the main issue is that software and hardware technology becomes rapidly obsolescent.
… It has been proposed that one solution to this problem is to “refresh” the stored records at regular intervals, that is, to copy the records onto newer media and into newer formats. While this approach is simple in concept, implementation raises a number of issues, most of which are not technological. How, for example, can we guarantee that owners of electronic records will faithfully pursue such a refreshing mandate indefinitely into the future?
The task force will be asked to:
- frame the key problems (organizational. technological, legal, economic, etc) with using technology refreshing;
- define the critical issues that inhibit resolution of each identified problem;
- recommend actions to remove each issue from the list;
- consider alternatives to technology refreshing; and
- make other appropriate recommendations.
It may also wish to envision possible end-states that accept technology refreshing as a routine approach and scenarios for achieving such end-states. Understanding what might constitute “best practices” in the area of technology refreshing will be an important goal.
The task force will consult broadly among librarians, archivists, curators, technologists, relevant government and private-sector organizations, and other interested parties. The group will be asked to complete an interim report by May, 1995, or thereabouts that can be circulated widely among interested communities to obtain feedback as input to a final report to be completed in Summer 1995.
Vision 2010 Project Launched at Invitational Meeting
Two dozen university presidents, chancellors and other officials participated in the initial meeting of Vision 2010, a project to envision higher education and scholarly communication in the 21st century. The gathering was held in conjunction with a meeting of the Association of American Universities in Durham, NC, in October 1994.
The meeting provided an opportunity for validation and evaluation with selected university administrators prior to an 18-month, three-phase brainstorming and planning process. The meeting was designed not only to refine the project, but to identify the principal concerns of university presidents as they prepare their institutions for the next century in a rapidly changing technological and societal environment.
Commission Board Chairman Billy Frye opened the event and set the stage for the discussions. Attendees agreed that the project must find a realistic focus that is neither too broad nor too narrow. They also recognized that in a time of significant transformation, it will be important to initiate needed change rather than react to it.
As announced in the June 1994 newsletter, Vision 2010 is funded by an initial grant to the Commission from The Carnegie Corporation of New York. Daniel E. Atkins, dean of the University of Michigan School of Information and Library Studies (SILS), is principal investigator for the project under contract to the Commission.
For more information, contact Katherine Willis, the project program officer, at her email address: <KWILLIS@UMICH.EDU>.
Complimentary Handouts and Demonstration Disks
In addition to the complimentary brochures described on page four of the November-December 1994 newsletter, the Commission also is distributing two additional products from technology demonstrations:
The Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village has developed a one-page description of its collaboration with the Commission to produce a Photo-CD titled “Moving Axles on Pixels.” The Photo-CD that recently premiered at the Society for the History of Technology annual meeting demonstrates how digital and telecommunications technologies can enhance access to research collections.
Johns Hopkins University has produced demonstration diskettes in both Macintosh and IBM format that simulate searching Project Muse on the Internet. Project Muse is an initiative to provide networked access to the JHU Press’;s scholarly journals.
Both the Henry Ford one-page handout and the Johns Hopkins demonstration disk are available from the Commission while supplies last. Requests for the demonstration disk must specify either a Macintosh or IBM version. A pre-addressed return label will expedite your request. Please address requests to: The Communication Program at the Commission.
International Series to Chronicle Preservation Efforts
When the Commission envisioned its work on an international level, its goals were to enrich American and international scholarship, encourage international cooperation, stimulate additional preservation activities in advanced countries, and foster preservation start-up projects in less developed countries.
Since 1989, efforts that began in Western Europe and some Central and Eastern European countries have expanded to embrace dozens of other countries. These efforts will be chronicled in a forthcoming series of international reports that describe what is happening in libraries around the world, some of which were only recently reopened to the West.
Such is the case with Bulgaria, isolated from much of the world for more than 50 years. In the first offering, Sonja Jordan, Head of Preservation at the University of Notre Dame Library, highlights Bulgaria and its remarkable, long tradition of using manuscripts rather than the printed word.
- Future reports include:
- an analysis of preservation strategies for Central and Latin American libraries by Dan Hazen, Harvard University Librarian for Latin America, Spain, and Portugal;
- a description of European collaborative preservation programs to preserve the intellectual heritage by Professor Pieter Drenth, President, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences; and
- an explanation of the European Register of Microfilm Masters (EROMM) by Dr. Werner Schwartz, Director of the Technical Department at the Staats-und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen and Coordinator of EROMM.
The February 1995 newsletter will provide a more detailed introduction to the series.
Commission Changes Role of PMC
The Preservation Managers Council (PMC) has been reconstituted as the Advisory Council to the Commission and has been invited to deliberate and provide recommendations to the Commission president on a full range of preservation and access activities.
In announcing the change at a December 1994 meeting, Commission President M. Stuart Lynn noted that the expanded Council agenda reflects the close relationship of preservation programs to the need to ensure long-term access to information.
The PMC was first convened in 1992 to provide a forum for managers of large preservation programs and to serve as a communication link to scores of preservation administrators in libraries and archives.
PMC members who will continue to serve are:
- Margaret Byrnes, Head, National Library of Medicine;
- Ellen Cunningham-Kruppa, University of Texas at Austin;
- Richard Frieder, Northwestern University;
- Diane Nester Kresh, acting head of the Preservation Directorate, Library of Congress; and
- Christine Ward, New York State Archives & Records Administration.
Anne Kenney, Assistant Director of the Department of Preservation and Conservation, Cornell University Library, has been appointed a new member. Other members reflecting the broader charter of the Advisory Council will be named in the near future.
CLC Explores Membership, Future Agenda
(CLC) agreed to supplement its current membership with representatives of mid-sized libraries addressing similar issues. This group of library directors has inaugurated a number of education, communication, and preservation-management projects over the past several years, focusing on the unique interests and capabilities of college institutions.
Key future questions involve how college and mid-sized university libraries can best explore and plan for their own use of scanning technologies –; given preservation needs –; and how they can take part in the larger inter-institutional environment and scholarly information system.
Responsible digital scanning for inter-institutional access to college library material –; an issue addressed by Project IBID, a previous CLC activity –; remains a high priority.
Among the questions raised by this project are how to:
- identify high-profile high-use materials;
- honor publishers’; needs for copyright and income;
- determine formats for distribution and delivery; and
- publicize the availability of scanned materials.
In addition to its focus on providing on-demand out-of-print materials to users, an extension of Project IBID could serve as an advocate for the future of the monograph and for the integrity of information in its original form.
The CLC is supporting the third Preservation Management Seminar for part-time preservation administrators
in small and mid-sized colleges and universities. (See page 3.)
For more information on CLC projects and plans, contact Committee Chair Kathleen Spencer, Associate VP for Information Systems and Library Services, at Franklin & Marshall College. (717) 291-4216.
Recycled Paper and Permanence: News from NYPL
Paul LeClerc, president of New York Public Library (NYPL) and a Commission board member, has received a letter from the Environmental Protection Agency providing assurance that the recent presidential order on recycling is not in conflict with an earlier joint resolution on use of permanent paper for documents of enduring historical value (see March 1994 newsletter, page 3). The letter, read into the Congressional Record on or about October 7, 1994, states in part:
I am writing you to assure you that there is no such conflict and to tell you of the steps this Administration is taking to ensure that the recycled paper requirements are not implemented in such a way as to result in the inappropriate use of acidic paper.
The Administration is completely aware of and strongly supports the Joint Resolution on permanent paper and its goals. Paper which contains recycled material and is either permanent or alkaline is available for purchase, and it is our intention to continue to use these papers for documents of enduring value.
… I very much appreciate your interest and concern for the permanence of historical documents, and applaud your efforts to reduce the use of acid papers by the federal government.
In May 1995, NYPL is planning a conference dedicated to the issue of recycling. According to an article in the New York Times (November 27, 1994), the conference will educate recyclers about the acid-paper problem. The Times article focuses on the 15-year crusade against acidic paper by Barbara Goldsmith, an author and social historian, a trustee of NYPL, and a former Commission board member.
Preservation Management Seminar Scheduled for July 1995 in Santa Fe
AMIGOS Preservation Service has announced that the third Preservation Management Seminar, an intensive training event for academic library staff with part-time responsibilities for preservation, will be held July 9-17, 1995, at St. John’;s College in Santa Fe, NM.
The seminar will focus on the administrative aspects of preservation activities, recognizing that each individual and department within a library has a responsibility to help ensure enduring access to scholarly resources.
The lead instructor for the event will be Lisa Fox, who also led the first two seminars. Fox founded the SOLINET preservation program in 1985 and has presented more than 200 lectures, workshops, and training events on library and archival preservation and disaster planning.
Other instructors include Jane Hedberg, Preservation Administrator, Wellesley College, and Tom Clareson, AMIGOS Preservation Service Manager.
The seminar originally was developed by the Commission’;s College Libraries Committee in consultation with the SOLINET preservation program.
The Commission will again support one institution’;s attendance at the seminar. Registration is limited, and there is a deadline for applications. For more information and an application form, contact Clareson at AMIGOS, 12200 Park Central Drive, Dallas, TX 75251; (800)843-8482.
Library of Congress Releases Early Results of Digital Preservation Study
The Preservation Directorate of the Library of Congress has provided the Commission with a preliminary report on ways of resolving preservation issues associated with digital-imaging technologies. The results were presented to the Directorate on October 27, 1994, by Picture Elements Incorporated, which is providing consulting services on the study (see September 1994 newsletter, page 1).
The study, Guidelines for Digital Preservation of Visual Materials, presents an overview of the best image-capturing methods and recommends guidelines for defining the best method for a given collection. It focuses on image quality, leaving issues such as media life and migration, access and delivery strategies, color and moving pictures, and conversion throughput for later study.
Picture Elements used a small sample of scanned images (mostly tests and engravings from bound, brittle books) to demonstrate the tradeoff between spatial and tonal resolution in developing an image-conversion strategy. Both binary Group 4 and JPEG gray-scale schemes were compared from both a visual perception and a storage point of view. In many cases involving all-text source material, the JPEG gray scale rendition of the original image was considerably better than the binary Group 4 rendition with only a slight storage penalty.
Plans call for the final report on this small collection (130 renditions) to be available soon through a Mosaic reader over the Internet. For further information, contact Basil Manns, Preservation Directorate, at 202-707-8345. (This article was adapted from information supplied by the Library of Congress.)
Library of Congress Joins Digital Preservation Consortium
The Library of Congress has accepted an invitation to join the Digital Preservation Consortium (DPC), a group convened by the Commission to advance the use of digital technology for providing enduring access to library and archival materials by fostering the needed infrastructure among institutions. The DPC operates within the rapidly-changing environment of the Internet, which presents new opportunities and challenges for collaborative preservation and access.
At recent meetings, DPC members have discussed the contributions of academic libraries within this evolving landscape and the coordination of campus-wide efforts to develop distributed computing environments.
Additional information on the DPC is available in the six-page report, The Digital Preservation Consortium Mission and Goals (March 1994, $10 prepaid from the Commission).
Apple Corporation Supports New Commission Network
A new computer network is in place at Commission headquarters supported by donations from the Apple Corporation.
The new computers and printer will expand the Commission’;s capabilities for communicating with constituents and disseminating reports.
In a letter of thanks to James Buckley, Vice President of Apple Computer, Inc., M. Stuart Lynn noted, “The Commission is dependent on the generosity of its various sponsors and supporters for the work that we do. There is no doubt that your gracious gift will make a substantial difference to what we can accomplish.”
Commission on Preservation and Access
1400 16th Street, NW, Suite 740
Washington, DC 20036-2217
(202) 939-3400 Fax: (202) 939-3407
The Commission on Preservation and Access was established in 1986 to foster and support collaboration among libraries and allied organizations in order to ensure the preservation of the published and documentary record in all formats and to provide enhanced access to scholarly information.
The Newsletter reports on cooperative national and international preservation activities and is written primarily for university administrators and faculty, library and archives administrators, preservation specialists and administrators, and representatives of consortia, governmental bodies, and other groups sharing in the Commission’s goals. The Newsletter is not copyrighted; its duplication and distribution are encouraged.M. Stuart Lynn–President
Maxine K. Sitts–Program Officer, Editor