CPA Newsletter #15, Aug 1989

Commission on Preservation and Access

The Commission on Preservation and Access

Newsletter August 1989 Number 17 Summertime Good News Edition

College Libraries Committee

Identifies Training, Communication Needs Members of the College Libraries Committee moved forward on several fronts during their second meeting on June 21, as they explored options for participation in the evolving national preservation program. A subgroup on endangered materials reported upon an informal questionnaire sent to 80 college libraries, which identified a number of endangered special collections that might be candidates for inclusion in the national program. The committee is interested in hearing from other college libraries that may have collections of national significance in need of preservation microfilming due to brittleness. Following a report from a subgroup on training, the committee agreed that there is a high priority need for a specialized workshop for college library administrators who are responsible on a part-time basis for a preservation program. The committee is identifying the necessary components for such a workshop, and has made a formal recommendation to the Commission to add this need to its education and training agenda for the coming year. A subgroup on communication recommended that the committee increase its contacts with college librarians, college administrators, and college library users. Articles or columns in journals and direct letters to colleagues will be developed over the next several months. The committee also heard a report from George Farr, Director of the National Endowment for the Humanities Office of Preservation, concerning NEH funding policies for preservation grants. Committee members are: Barbara J. Brown, University Librarian, Washington & Lee University; David Cohen, Director of Libraries, College of Charleston; David A. Kearley, University Librarian, University of the South; Kathleen Spencer (chair), Library Director, Franklin & Marshall College; Willis E Bridegam, Librarian of the College, Amherst College; Joel Clemmer, Library Director, Macalester College; Caroline M. Coughlin, Library Director, Drew University; and Jacquelyn M. Morris, College Librarian, Occidental College.

AALL to Conduct Pretest of

Micropublisher Standards Survey The Commission has contracted with the Special Committee on the Preservation Needs of Law Libraries of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) to conduct a pretest of a survey of micropublishers concerning their filming standards. Under the contract’s terms, two staff members from the Harvard Law Library Preservation Department will conduct site visits to micropublishers to test a comprehensive survey covering microform production and quality control, storage of first-generation master negative film, storage containers and enclosures, and inspection of stored first-generation negatives. The pretest group includes several general publishers as well as micropublishers that concentrate on legal materials. The contract calls for mailing the surveys to publishers in the U.S. and England this fall, with in-depth site visits at the beginning of 1990. A final project report due in late spring, 1990, will be disseminated broadly by the Commission, since this is an area of considerable concern to preservation specialists. As explained in the project description:

Commercial filming may or may not have the same requirements, and may or may not meet the preservation standards used by libraries. Yet, so many titles have already been filmed by commercial publishers that unnecessary duplicate filming for preservation would waste valuable resources. In order to evaluate how commercial microforms fit into a national preservation program, it is necessary to know how commercial microfilm is produced, used and stored.

After the Commission-sponsored pretest, the survey form, which is being developed jointly by AALL and the RLG Preservation Committee, will be sent to commercial publishers across the country and around the world.

NEDCC, SOLINET Expand

Preservation Services In response to the national initiative to step up preservation microfilming activities, the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) is directing its resources to facilitate projects at research libraries and other repository institutions. An H.W. Wilson Foundation grant has enabled NEDCC to initiate a week-long training program that includes classroom sessions and hands-on experience in NEDCC’s microfilming laboratory. The Center also will continue to function as a centralized microfilming facility for large-scale brittle books filming projects. Beginning October 1, 1989, Dr. Margaret Child, former Assistant Director for Research Services of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries, will join NEDCC’s Field Service Office as a national consultant. Dr. Child, who also served as Assistant Director of the Division of Research Programs at the National Endowment for the Humanities, will be available to perform surveys of institutional preservation needs, as well as to advise on statewide preservation planning, consortium projects, and preparation of grant proposals. Meanwhile, the Southeastern Library Network (SOLINET) is looking for an experienced library professional for the new position of Preservation Program Director, reporting to the Chief Operating Officer. This position is being created to provide focused management attention to SOLINET’s Preservation Program, which is undergoing considerable growth. As a senior manager, the Preservation Program Director will be responsible for overall planning, budgeting, and management of the program components, as well as evaluation and implementation of new services.

NEH Announces $15 Million

for Preservation Projects An August 3 press release from the National Endowment for the Humanities announces more than $15 million in new grants for projects to preserve books, newspapers, monographs, photographs, videotapes, and other resources for scholarly research. The announcement includes the largest grants that NEH has ever awarded for preservation projects. The Endowment estimates that, when completed, all the new projects will preserve the knowledge in some 167,300 embrittled volumes that otherwise would be lost.

“The grants…will help libraries and archives to ensure that the knowledge contained in their disintegrating collections will not disappear forever,” said NEH Chairman Lynne V. Cheney. “These projects will help preserve a significant part of our cultural legacy so that it may be available to future generations of scholars.”

The new grants are administered by the NEH Office of Preservation. The universities and research institutions receiving support to preserve the contents of brittle books are: New York Public Library; Harvard University; Columbia University; Research Libraries Group, Inc. (Brown, Emory, Florida, Iowa, New York, and Northwestern Universities, Dartmouth College, the New York State Historical Society, Columbia Teachers College); University of California, Berkeley; Yale University; University of Chicago; Princeton University; and the University of Texas at Austin. A news release, list of grant projects, and fact sheet are available from NEH, 1100 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20506.


Librarians and publishers have recognized that they have mutual interests in the dissemination and preservation of information. Librarians, publishers, authors, and editors will work together to achieve a delivery system that satisfies reader demand and provides a reasonable rate of return on investment… While new roles emerge, the traditional responsibilities of preserving the records of humanity’s achievements, failures, culture, history, and knowledge will become more important. Librarians have unprecedented opportunities to make a difference in the lives of people. We cannot discard or disregard the past. While we are helping people solve twenty-first century problems, we must be prepared to make it easy for people to study the past.

From “The Online Information System at Georgia Institute of

Technology,” by Miriam A. Drake. in Information Technology and Libraries, Vol.8, n.2, June 1989


Special Section–Progress

On Paper

Publishers Like Alkaline, According To PW

“Toward the Totally Acid-Free Book” is the title of an article in the July 21, 1989, Publishers Weekly. Featuring a profile of the company, Ecological Fibers of Lunenberg, MA, the article begins with these encouraging words: The day when books can be made totally acid free is almost here. While acid-free text paper has been on the market for some time, the publishing industry now is beginning to see the emergence of such new acid-free products as end-leaf sheets and cover boards.” Ecological Fibers makes all its coatings with water-based technology–new for the industry and ecologically sound, since it eliminates waste discharge into the environment and solvent odor in the plant. “While I realize that today’s push is to acid-free text paper, why sell a book with acid-free text that may stay pristine for 500 years, but with an acid pH cover that librarians will have to replace in 25 years or less?” asks paper manufacturer Quill in the article. The same issue carries an extensive article, “Public Drive for Alkaline Paper Inspires New Action in the Mills.” From the opening paragraph: “…it may well be that in a few short years alkaline paper will become a non-issue; not that acid paper will make a reappearance, but by then almost every paper mill of any size will have converted to alkaline technology, according to most mill operators interviewed for this article.” One estimate from industry analysts predicts that by 1992, half of the uncoated, free-sheet paper produced in this country will be acid free. But the shift is not entirely altruistic on the part of mills,” the article adds, since the change to alkaline production is cost-effective for paper manufacturers just now.”

Reviews in LJ Designate Use of Permanent Paper

Library Journal has been providing permanent paper information in the bibliographic citation that accompanies each review in its Professional Reading column since Spring 1988. LJs Book Review has included the designation permanent paper” since the beginning of this calendar year, reports GraceAnn A. DeCandido, Senior Editor.

Permanent Paper Bill Passes in Senate

On July 31, the Senate passed SJ.Res. 57, to establish a national policy to promote the use of permanent, alkaline papers, by a voice vote. The resolution had been ordered reported for floor action on June 13 by the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. Many thanks to those of you who worked to gather support for this resolution, which was introduced by Sen. Claiborne Pell. A companion House measure, H.J.Res. 226 introduced by Rep. Pat Williams, probably will be acted upon in the Fall.

Archives and History

General Commission of United Methodist Church Acts on Alkaline Paper, Preservation Microfilming The General Commission on Archives & History of the United Methodist Church made progress on two preservation fronts at its July 1989 annual meeting: the use of alkaline paper and microfilming The group passed a Resolution on Alkaline Paper to “begin to use alkaline paper in all of its publications of enduring value and … encourage other general, jurisdictional, and annual conference agencies to do the same as soon as possible.” The resolution also invites other church general agencies–including four major publishing units–to take similar action. Finally, the resolution announces the intention to submit legislation requiring the use of alkaline paper for all works of enduring value at the church’s 1992 General Conference. Also adopted by the group was a recommendation from the Library Committee to appoint a special task force “to develop a comprehensive strategy for preservation microfilming of Methodist materials for the 1992-1996 Quadrennium.” The planning will be conducted in consultation with the Methodist Librarians’ Fellowship, the Association of United Methodist Theological Schools, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, and the Preservation Board of the American Theological Library Association.

Cooperative Preservation

Programs Underway in Many States

The following article is excerpted from a report by Carolyn

Morrow on the National Conference on the Development of Statewide Preservation Programs, held March 1-3, 1989, at the Library of Congress The impetus for the conference came, in part, from the realization that a significant number of states were already in the process of developing statewide programs. These programs endeavor to preserve collections important to our cultural and intellectual heritage held by libraries, archives, and historical agencies. The conference was attended by 148 individuals representing 47 states, 3 territories, and the District of Columbia. During 17 hours of meetings and discussion, participants focused on the legislative, funding, and public awareness challenges and benefits of organizing a multi-institutional coordinated preservation program within the context of a single state. Opening remarks from Carole F. Huxley, Deputy Commissioner for Cultural Education, New York;James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress; Don W. Wilson, Archivist of the United States; and Lynne V. Cheney, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, emphasized the importance of coordination at all levels of government and described the gathering momentum of a nationwide preservation effort. Carolyn Morrow, Assistant National Preservation Program Officer at the Library of Congress, identified four common elements that could be described as either obstacles to or prerequisites for statewide preservation program development. These included a sufficient preservation knowledge base in the state, a history of interinstitutional cooperation and collaboration, an institutional focal point for preservation, and access to the legislature. In concluding, Morrow noted that statewide preservation programs are “an opportunity to celebrate the history of the states, their individual textures and their differences,” and that this activity “isn’t something that can be done from Washington, DC.” Representatives from a number of states gave presentations on their preservation projects. Among them:

  • New York: Document Conservation Training and Planning Project, athree-year process of identifying preservation needs and involving key players.
  • Illinois: A model for statewide preservation action beginningwith grass roots interest, the development of a statewide information and outreach program, and the formation of a statewide Preservation Task Force.
  • South Carolina: Statewide preservation planning with theassistance of a regional preservation program.
  • Florida: The development of a statewide plan for librarydisasters to minimize losses to collections and reduce replacement costs.

Other states represented on the program included Alabama, California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.


As professionals in the field of scholarship, we have a responsibility to preserve the historical record that we have inherited and the contributions that contemporaries are making to it. The library, which houses that record, pays homage to the past, acknowledges the present, and salutes the future. As a repository of our intellectual heritage and a center of scholarship, it deserves reference and protection against all threats to its security. Withholding that protection will erase the history of our civilization for future generations, wiping clean the slate of centuries of accumulated knowledge.

From “Our silent enemy: ashes in our libraries,” by Lois

DeBakey, Ph.D., and Selma DeBakey, BA, in Bulletin of the Medical Library Association, Vol.77, n.3, July 1989.


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

Maxine K. Sitts–Program Officer, Editor Pamela D. Block–Administrative Assistant Return to CLIR Home Page >>