CPA Newsletter #19, Jan 1990

CPA Newsletter #19, Jan 1990

Commission on Preservation and Access

The Commission on Preservation and Access

Newsletter

January 1990

Number 19

National Advisory Council on Preservation Meeting Summary

The National Advisory Council on Preservation (NACP) reviewed four issues–technology, copyright, repair as an alternative to reformatting, and centralized storage and distribution services for preservation microfilms–during a meeting on November 13 in Washington, DC. The issues had been identified as high-priority interests by Council members in a written poll prior to the meeting. The 18 NACP members also heard reports from the Committee on Institutional Cooperation and the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Office of Preservation.

Commission consultant Rowland Brown, chair of the Technology Assessment Advisory Committee, led a discussion on the technologies being developed to provide wider access to preserved materials. The group discussed the viability of transferring information and images between microforms and other media, and agreed that the role of standards will become even more critical as innovations increase. Robert Oakley, who is preparing a paper on copyright implications for the Commission, presented a number of possible approaches for resolving copyright issues associated with the national plan to make and distribute multiple copies (in varying formats) of preserved materials. Most copyright concerns will involve those materials that are still within copyright–expected to be a small percentage of the books being microfilmed.

The group spent some time discussing the role of repair as a vital component of a preservation program. Repair traditionally has been seen as a local responsibility, and it may be a difficult activity to justify in terms of federal- level support. William Studer reported to the group on an initiative by the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) to conduct definitive testing of the validity of the five mass deacidification processes now being developed by vendors. The ultimate goal is the construction of a mass deacidification plant in the Chicago area for the use of CIC members and others. Representatives of the archives community at the meeting expressed interest in supporting the project and in incorporating the needs of archives materials into the testing process. It was agreed that archival concerns would be included in the CIC study.

In an update on efforts to explore centralized storage and distribution services for preservation microfilms, Pat Battin reported that the Commission is gathering data from a number of libraries on their number of master negatives, volume of use, and extent of access services. When all returns are received, the Commission will use that data to help prepare a request-for-proposal (RFP). The Commission would serve as a broker for a group contract that each library could join if it so desired. Economies of scale are expected from such an arrangement, although exact financial projections will not be known until the Commission receives responses to its RFP. It was pointed out that this type of service may be able to deal with copyright issues more easily than individual institutions.

The group also heard a report from George Farr, director of the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Office of Preservation. Approximately 167,000 volumes will be completed within its preservation microfilming grant program over the next three years, and the Office expects to meet its target goals as promised to Congress. The Office has been allotted $17,700,000 for FY-1990, which is $4,200,000 above the expected funding_ The additional funds are earmarked for an initiative to preserve material culture collections and will not detract from existing programs_ Farr also announced the initiation of two new grant categories: (1) for projects to plan statewide cooperative preservation programs and, (2) for preservation administrator training stipends.

Brief reports were provided on other Commission activities: the International Project, the building of a preservation research agenda in cooperation with preservation specialists, a workshop for members of the Association of Physical Plant Administrators on environmental conditions for books and museums, and a demonstration preservation reprint project. Each participant was provided with an opportunity to comment on the Commission’s past year and future agenda, as well as to brief the group on activities of the institutions represented.

The NACP is composed of representatives from academic and professional associations involved in preservation It promotes participation in nationwide preservation programs and advises the Commission in its work.

Research on Materials with Text and Images Supported by Getty Grant Program Award

The Getty Grant Program has awarded $254,000 to the Commission to support three interdependent activities:
A research project on the dark stability of color microfilm, to be conducted by the Mid-Atlantic Preservation Service, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA;
A demonstration project on the use of high resolution color microfilm, to be undertaken by the Image Permanence Institute of the Rochester (NY) Institute of Technology; and
The convening of a Joint Task Force to explore commonalities and differences in the preservation needs of the diverse groups that depend upon text-and-image for research and advancement of knowledge.

The Grant Program stated that the two-year project would provide “a unique opportunity to aid the field of art history by supporting the establishment of a comprehensive preservation program that will benefit the many organizations and institutions involved in preservation efforts.” The Joint Task Force will draw together the interests of diverse constituencies including art librarians, museum administrators, architects, archaeologists, and art historians.

The request for funding was based upon the needs and priorities identified by a group of art historians, art librarians, technical specialists, and an academic press publisher of art books during a three-day seminar at Spring Hill, Wayzata, MN, in September-October 1988. A report from that seminar, funded by The Getty Grant Program, is available from the Commission under the title Scholarly Resources in Art History: Issues in Preservation ($5.00/prepayment required).

Education Initiative

Commission Awards Contract for Preservation Seminar for Library Educators

A Preservation Seminar for Library Educators that will bring together leaders in preservation, library educators, and university library directors is being planned for 1990, under terms of a contract awarded by the Commission to The Catholic University of America, School of Library and Information Science. Deanna Marcum, dean of the school and chair of the new Task Force on Preservation Education, will be organizing the seminar, which is seen as a first step toward introducing library educators to the progress being made in preservation and in integrating preservation into library schools. As now envisioned, the seminar will include a report from the Commission on the current state of preservation efforts from the national perspective, as well as a report from the task force on how preservation is currently being treated in library schools. Prior to the seminar, a background paper laying out key topics identified by the task force will be written.

Rather than develop any type of model curriculum, the participants will be expected to generate alternative ways of giving preservation its proper place in d library school curriculum, as well as to identify courses that would be likely candidates for a preservation component. A series of recommendations for further action is expected. A written transcript of the seminar will be distributed widely to library schools and collegiate and research libraries.

New Task Force to Explore Curriculum Needs

Based upon recommendations of an October 1988 meeting of library administrators, preservation specialists, educators, and foundation representatives, the Commission has established a Task Force on Preservation Education. The new group, composed of six educators, will be exploring in some detail the current status of preservation education, the projected requirements for the next decade, and the ways in which existing programs can be strengthened and expanded to meet the new challenges. Among the suggested questions for task force investigation identified during the 1988 meeting:

  • Can the substance of preservation be incorporated into all facets of the core professional education curriculum for librarians and archivists?
  • What are the needs for specialized programs in preservation administration and in technical skills, taking into account current programs?
  • What are the needs for technical education. and what options are there for training on a continuing basis?

In an October 1989 charge to task force members, Commission president Pat Battin listed the following issues:

  • What are the educational requirements to enable librarians, in every aspect of their work, to ensure the preservation of knowledge?
  • What kinds of analytical and intellectual skills will be needed by future leaders to be successful in their stewardship obligations?
  • What are the specific implications for the professional education curriculum?

The group will be developing its own agenda and specific plan of work within the general charge, and will be meeting two to three times each year. The members are: David B. Gracy 11, Professor, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Texas at Austin; Beverly P. Lynch, Dean, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of California, Los Angeles; Sally Roggia, Adjunct Professor, School of Library and Information Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Sally Buchanan, Adjunct Professor, School of Library and Information Science, University of Pittsburgh; Carolyn Harris, Assistant Professor, School of Library Service, Columbia University; and Deanna B. Marcum (chair), Dean, School of Library and Information Science, Catholic University of America.

College and University Sponsors

Thirty colleges and universities have pledged financial support over the next three years to ensure the continuation of the Commission s efforts to facilitate nationwide–and international–plans for the preservation of our scholarly resources and written heritage. The support of the academic community is a vital component of the Commission s capacity to continue and expand its activities. In addition to academic sponsors, the Commission receives ongoing support from the Council on Library Resources and the Hewlett Foundation.

The college and university sponsors, as of December 1, 1989, are:

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

Preservation in Medieval Studies Topic of Upcoming Colloquium

The Commission is sponsoring a colloquium on preservation issues in medieval studies, in cooperation with the Medieval Academy of America and The Medieval Institute and College of Arts and Letters of the University of Notre Dame. The meeting, to be held March 25-26, 1990, at the University of Notre Dame, will raise and address strategic issues as prelude to a nationwide, systematic effort to preserve scholarly materials in medieval studies, much of which was published in the 19th century.

While the field of medieval studies shares the preservation concerns of other disciplines, it also has several particular problems. First, the field is completely dependent on primary sources printed during the period 1850-1940, which are unlikely to be reprinted within the next 50 years. Second, the field is represented by no particular library classification, so that its materials are not shelved together as a single collection. Third, the field is extremely diverse, covering even more disciplines than Classics, but having a less-defined sense of curricular paradigms, institutional identity, or settled canons.

The colloquium is modelled on the fall 1988 seminar at Spring Hill, Wayzata, Minnesota, at which a group of art historians, librarians, technology experts, and an academic publisher were convened by the Commission to explore options for the preservation of the intellectual content of brittle books. On the agenda of the upcoming colloquium are such questions as: “What is the actual dependence of research in medieval studies on acidified book materials? … and … What special preservation and access problems are there for medieval studies?” Dr. Mark Jordan of The Medieval Institute, who is chairing the colloquium, has invited 16 scholars from throughout the United States and Canada to participate.

Scholarly Advisory Committee on Art History Continues Exploration of Preservation Priorities

Effective strategies for selecting art history materials for preservation within the context of a national program were explored further by members of the Scholarly Advisory Committee on Art History during a meeting at the Commission in early November. The group of seven scholars has begun to examine options for locating and identifying materials that are at greatest risk, review periodicals lists, and investigate comprehensive collections, bibliographies, and other tools for setting priorities.

The committee also prepared for a special session on preservation at the 1990 annual meeting of the College Art Association (CM). Committee chair Professor Larry Silver (Northwestern University) expects to present a report to the CM membership, and the Commission plans to operate a preservation booth in the exhibit area.

Scholarly Advisory Committees, composed of scholars and librarians, are charged with considering preservation selection criteria in light of the needs of their academic disciplines and advising on priorities and program directions within each discipline. They also act as liaison groups with the academic disciplines. Members of the Art History committee are: Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann, New York University; Phyllis Pray Bober, Bryn Mawr College; Richard Brilliant, Columbia University; Lorenz Eitner, Stanford University Museum of Art; Alan Fern, National Portrait Gallery; Larry Silver. Northwestern University; and Deirdre C. Stam, Syracuse University.

International Project on the Move

During October and November, Commission consultant Hans Rütimann visited Horst Braun at the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft in Bonn and Hans-Albrecht Koch, General Secretary of LIBER (League of European Research Libraries) in Bremen. He also traveled to Paderborn to obtain information about “Project Corvey” from Klaus Barckow, Director of the University Library Paderborn. Corvey’s unique collection of German, French, and English books from the 18th and 19th centuries is made available on microfiche. At a follow-up visit to the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, the discussion centered on the BN’s plan to convert retrospectively its register of microform masters to machine-readable form.

During the latest trip abroad, it became evident that European colleagues are interested in new media in preservation and are particularly intrigued with the idea of scanning microforms to convert them to digitized form. Also, the initiative of the Commission of the European Communities (CEC) to create a European Register of Microform Masters (EROMM) is taken seriously by the CEC s member countries. Rütimann was invited to EROMM s first meeting (in Luxembourg in early December 1989), during which the feasibility study for such a register was reviewed.


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