The Commission on Preservation and Access
Newsletter August 1988 Number 3
A Message from the
President The Commission on Preservation and Access became incorporated as an independent tax-exempt public charity on July 1, 1988. The Commission’s objectives as stated in its by-laws are “to foster, develop and support systematic and purposeful collaboration among all libraries, archives and allied organizations in order to insure the preservation of the published and documentary record in all formats and to provide enhanced access to scholarly information.” We have set as our initial priority, within that broad agenda, a major attack on the brittle books problem. The program has four major components: 1) Convince publishers to use alkaline paper; 2) Support and encourage the continuing feasibility of affordable deacidification facilities; 3) Capture the intellectual contents of a substantial number of brittle books in an archival master copy format; and 4) Establish new and effective access mechanisms to the preserved items. The achievement of this ambitious program can only occur and be sustained by the permanent integration of preservation activities into routine research library operations. In the end, our success will depend not upon dollars nor technology, but upon the human resources needed to make it happen. During the past ten years, the number of preservation operations in American research libraries has increased from about 5 in 1978 to more than 50 in 1988, as universities have acted to institutionalize the activities necessary for the preservation of scholarly collections printed on acid paper. And we haven’t yet begun to fight! What are the implications that this growing emphasis on preservation, and a new collective resolve to save a substantial portion of our intellectual heritage, have for available staff resources and the need for new educational and training programs within the next decade? The prospect of a vastly increased long-term coordinated reformatting program sustained by federal funding will place additional pressures on university budgets, library organizational structures and staff resources as the new operations are integrated into existing organizations. It appears that the scale and objectives of the proposed program will require more than a simple expansion of concepts and activities developed to support modest microfilming efforts based on intermittently-available grant funds. As with other operations in a complex library environment, a fully integrated preservation activity will need to draw upon a wide range of existing expertise in both the library and the larger university community, as well as to develop new experts and skills. Given the fact that the financial exigencies of our universities show little sign of mitigation during the next decade, we need to identify a set of reasonable expectations for a model preservation operation from the perspective of both programmatic and financial reality. What represents an optimal preservation operation within a large research library? What represents an affordable preservation operation? Can these two views be reconciled? What new talents and skills will be required? What talents and skills already exist in the library and the university? How can the traditional organizational structure be modified to link existing talent to productive participation in the preservation program? What educational and training programs will be required to supply the human resources necessary for success? Should these needs be met through formal education and credentialing processes, through workshops, internships, and/or through on-the-job learning and development experiences? As an initial step in identifying these new needs, and to inform our planning for an orderly and cost-effective educational process, the Commission has invited a representative group of preservation librarians, library directors, senior library staff responsible for traditional operations, library educators, and foundation officers to participate in a wide-ranging discussion of these questions. The gathering is scheduled for mid-October. I would appreciate thoughts and comments from your particular perspective as you reflect on the implications for human resources as we seek to transform our preservation “cottage industry” to an expanded mass-production effort necessary to achieve our goal. — P.B.
Preservation in College
Libraries The roles of major liberal arts colleges in the national preservation program will be the subject of a late October meeting of the 60 liberal arts college library directors comprising the “Oberlin Group.” Commission President Pat Battin and George Farr, head of the Office of Preservation at the National Endowment for the Humanities, will attend the meeting, which will be held at Amherst, Mount Holyoke and Smith Colleges, at the invitation of Willis Bridegam, Amherst Librarian.
Issues Among the technical issues involved in a nation-wide preservation microfilming program is that of the appropriate level of bibliographic control required in order to meet the needs of both researchers and librarians. When a book is filmed, its record in a bibliographic utility must either be amended to show the existence of the book in microfilm format, or, under strictest Anglo-American cataloging rules, a new record must be created for the microform. Since creating a new record is very labor-intensive, cataloging costs can escalate from as little as $2 or $3 (for minimal-level notation) to $25 or more when a new, full record is created. In addressing this issue in the context of a subsidized filming program, the Commission has initially proposed reimbursement for minimal-level cataloging, with additional bibliographic needs being supported by participating institutions. Further discussion on the part of participating institutions, including information from scholars and other users of bibliographic databases, will be necessary in order to reach a working agreement on the level of cataloging required in the program.
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.Patricia Battin–President
Peter Winterble–Program Officer, Editor Pamela D. Block–Administrative Assistant Return to CLIR Home Page >>