CPA Newsletter #28, Oct 1990

Commission on Preservation and Access

The Commission on Preservation and Access

Newsletter

October 1990

Number 28

TAAC Report: Preservation Technology Glossary

A structured glossary of technical terms describing the relationship between digital and other media conversion processes has been issued by the Commission. The glossary is one of a number of reports from the Commission’s Technology Assessment Advisory Committee (TAAC) contributing to a common understanding of how preservation and access needs can be addressed by emerging technologies. M. Stuart Lynn, Vice President for Information Technologies, Cornell University, served as principal author with assistance from TAAC members and others from the information technology and library professions.

Preservation and Access Technology. The Relationship Between Digital and Other Media Conversion Processes: A Structured Glossary of Technical Terms (August 1990, 68 pages) contains terms associated with the technologies of document preservation with particular emphasis on document media conversion technologies (often called “reformatting technologies”), and even more more particularly on the use of digital computer technologies.

Implications for the use of digital technologies that extend beyond the boundaries of preservation of and access to preserved materials are discussed in the introduction and again throughout the glossary.

As the Preface explains:

The glossary is not intended to be so comprehensive as to satisfy the technologist only concerned with technologies. or the librarian exclusively concerned with librarianship and preservation. It is intended to satisfy the intersection of their concerns. On the other hand. issues of preservation and access raise concepts that hale implications for librarianship as a whole. so that, in that sense. this glossary has consequences that are not limited to the preservation arena alone.

Following an introduction that discusses the impact of digital technologies on the library profession, the glossary is divided into three main sections: The Original Document, the Selection Process, and the Preserved Copy. The latter is dealt with in the most detail. It, in turn, includes a number of subsections: The first defines the actual preservation or media conversion technologies that may be employed, and the remaining subsections are devoted to the various technologies employed in the different stages of preservation and access–capture, storage, access, distribution, and presentation. There also is a list of information sources and an index.

As with other Commission reports, the glossary is intended as a conceptual document to promote further discussion and research. The Introduction suggests that “one measure of success for the glossary will be the extent to which it stimulates additional work in the field, including refinements of the glossary itself.”

Complimentary copies have been mailed to the Commission’s entire mailing list. Additional copies are available at no cost to Commission sponsors and for $5.00 to others. (Prepayment via check–U.S. funds only–to “Commission on Preservation and Access.”)

Institute Urges Stepped-Up Pace for Preservation Education Activities

The Commission’s Task Force on Preservation Education should pick up its work pace and begin a number of activities immediately to strengthen preservation education, according to the final report of the Preservation Education Institute held August 24, 1990. at Wye Plantation Queenstown, MD (See June 1990 Newsletter). Library administrators, educators, archivists, network staff and preservation specialists were invited to the institute to explore the possibilities of placing preservation in a more central position in library school curricula. Among the recommendations evolving from the 2 days of presentations and discussion sessions:

  • A strong statement supporting the inclusion of preservation in the new standards should be sent to the Committee on Accreditation.
  • The Dean’s Council of ALISE (Association for Library and Information Science Education) should encourage the cause of preservation education.
  • An action plan for preservation education should be developed by the Task Force on Preservation Education and widely disseminated to the professional community.

A sampling of ideas from the institute follows:

Preservation must become a state of mind, a way of treating collections so they will survive to serve their intended purposes. Our greatest challenge, in practical terms, is to define preservation in clear and commonly agreed-upon language. Since public libraries and historical societies house important research materials, it is inadequate to define preservation in terms of research libraries.

David B. Gracy II, Professor, Graduate School o Library and Information Science University of Texas at Austin

All library schools will need to have a preservation component in the curriculum, but it may vary depending upon the emphasis. Some 500 to 700 large libraries are likely to have a conservation/preservation unit in the future, and several thousand smaller libraries should have at least some capability of dealing with preservation Library schools should think of imaginative continuing education courses, short courses, and work-study opportunities in addition to established courses.

Joseph Rosenthal. Library Director, University of California at Berkeley

Within college libraries, preservation librarians should know about organizational structure. They should be able to create their own support systems, serve as change agents, and perform a number of different functions. There also is a need to raise consciousness among college libraries that they have important collections.

Michele Cloonan, Preservation Librarian, Brown University; and
Kathleen Moretto-Spencer, Library Director, Franklin & Marshall College

The Preservation Education Institute was conducted by The Catholic University of America’s School of Library and Information Science, under contract with the Commission. Its agenda was built on previous nationwide explorations of preservation education, including an October 1988 meeting sponsored by the Commission and a series of issues raised by the Preservation Education Task Force during its first two meetings earlier this year. A report from the institute is being distributed to all those on the Commission s mailing list.

Getting On With the Work of Preservation

Recent news reflects a growing number of operational collaborative preservation activities. From the national perspective, it appears that the broadened preservation agenda has moved from a period of generating interest and support, planning, and research, into a time of solidifying positions, building foundations, and “getting on with the work.” The following developments are cases in point for an increasing cooperative capacity to manage preservation challenges.

The Medieval Academy of America

The Medieval Academy of America has formed a Library Preservation Committee to initiate and coordinate projects to preserve the contents of embrittled scholarly publications important to the future of medieval studies. The committee, composed of eight scholars and librarians, holds its first meeting October 19 and 20 in Washington, DC.

The activation of such a committee was a major point of agreement during a colloquium on preservation issues in medieval studies, held March 25 and 26, 1990, at the University of Notre Dame (See May 1990 Newsletter). At that time, 15 scholars from the United States and Canada concluded that a coordinated preservation effort for medieval studies should be “urgently undertaken,” and that it should be helped along by a committee of The Medieval Academy.

Recommendations from the March colloquium included the following:

The committee’s first task will be to identify concentrated and accessible collections in the various areas of medieval studies… in cooperation with the Research Libraries Group and with the aid of its Conspectus. It might also be wise to survey the Academy s membership to gain a concrete sense of which materials and collections have been most used by medievalists.

…The preservation of collections is the business of the institutions that own them. These institutions will need to seek funds from public and private sources in order to carry out preservation projects. The committee will work with the institutions to construct complementary preservation programs and to resist the diffusion of efforts…. The committee must ensure that the projects bibliographic records and the reformatted works themselves are made available promptly for wide scholarly use.

The March colloquium was cosponsored by The Medieval Institute and College of Arts and Letters of the University of Notre Dame, The Medieval Academy of America, and the Commission. Members of the new committee are: Mark Jordan (Chair), University of Notre Dame; Steven Horwitz, University of California, Berkeley; Christopher Kleinhenz, University of Wisconsin; Lillian Randall, Walters Art Museum: Fred Robinson, Yale University; Susanne Roberts, Yale University; and Jan Ziolkowski, Harvard University.

The American Theological Library Association

by Albert E. Hurd, Executive Director

The Preservation Programs of the American Theological Library Association (ATLA) emphasize preservation in microformat of serials and nineteenth century monographs. Any library (ATLA member or non-member) may participate through the Preservation Filming in Religion (PREFIR) Membership and Subscription Program.

ATLA has been engaged in preservation filming of serial and monographic literature in Religion and Theology for 35 years. For more than 20 years the program concentrated on the filming of serials on 35 mm roll microfilm. In the 1 970s it began to experiment with the preservation of monographs in microfiche format. In 1978 ATLA established an Ad Hoc Committee for the Preservation of Theological Materials to study and determine the size of theological subject collections, published between the years 1850 and 1929, within ATLA member libraries. This study, completed in 1981, indicated that more than 258,000 volumes were at risk and in need of preservation due to acidic paper. These results were used to plan and implement ATLA’s Nineteenth Century Monograph Preservation Program in 1985.

The ATLA Monographic Preservation Program uses 48x microfiche for monographs. In using 48x microfiche, the program aims to make titles readily available at reasonable costs to both scholars and libraries. The monographic part of the program has cataloged and filmed more than 14,000 monograph titles on 48x microfiche during the past five years. Titles filmed are from an annual subject bibliography developed by the project bibliographer and provided to the program from a number of cooperating and participating libraries.

The ATLA Serials Program makes available in microformat both embrittled nineteenth century serials and current serials. Currently we make available more than 1.000 serials on 35 mm microfilm. Together, the literature filmed to date by the Monograph Preservation Program and the Serials Program documents nearly every major denomination in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain.

The program stresses the dissemination of its materials by providing access through a printed catalog, National Register of Microform Masters, and the major online catalogs: OCLC, RLIN, Utlas, and the National Union Catalog. A majority of the ATLA Preservation Program costs are supported through subscription sales. In addition, funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Office of Preservation and private foundations has helped sustain the annual filming schedule.

For more information, contact Albert Hurd, ATLA, 820 Church St., 3rd Floor, Evanston, IL 60201.

The University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania has begun the first phase of its new preservation planning project by assembling a broad range of information about its collections and the spaces housing the collections. Much of this information-gathering is being done with the cooperation and support of local regional preservation organizations. (See March 1990 Newsletter.)

Condition surveys in many of the university’s 26 rare and special collections are being carried out by staff members from the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts, while staff from the Mid-Atlantic Preservation Service have reviewed Penn’s microform collections to develop recommendations for their long-term preservation. In addition, books at Van Pelt Library, departmental libraries, and the storage collection are undergoing a statistical condition survey by library staff members H. Carton Rogers, Director of Technical Services; Bernard Ford, Assistant Director, Collection Management;, and Consultant Peter Sparks.

Penn’s preservation project, funded by the Commission and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, has two major goals. The first is the formulation of a plan for the preservation of the university’s collections using a broad, strategic approach that considers not only local needs, but also regional and national programs, and that explores the full range of currently available preservation technologies and how their technical trade-offs can affect long-term preservation decisions. The second goal is the articulation of a management strategy in which a small internal staff works in concert with regional preservation service organizations, which in turn develop service programs to supply resources needed by the university to operate its preservation program.

The State of Colorado

Librarians, archivists, curators, genealogists, records managers, public officials, and others interested in the preservation of cultural and historical resources of Colorado were invited to the first annual meeting of the Colorado Preservation Alliance on September 10. Bylaws for the alliance were presented for approval at the meeting, which was held at the Aurora Public Library. Nancy Bolt, state librarian, presented a certificate of appreciation to State Senator Harold McCormick for his work to require the use of acid-free paper for legislative publications. Other scheduled topics: practical paper conservation and a review of activities for Archives Day, September 21.

Preservation Environment Featured in Facilities Manager

The Association of Physical Plant Administrators of Universities and Colleges (APPA) is publishing an article, “The Library Environment and the Preservation of Library Materials,” by Carolyn L. Harris and Paul N. Banks, in the Fall 1990 issue of its quarterly professional magazine, Facilities Manager mailed to APPA members early this month. The article is one of two cooperative activities of APPA and the Commission to increase communication among physical plant and library/archives staffs regarding environmental conditions for housing of library and archival materials. The second undertaking is a “Preservation of Library and archival materials” workshop February 28-March 1, 1991, in Washington, DC. Copies of the magazine are available for $5.00 (enclose check or purchase order) from APPA, Attn. Publications, 1446 Duke St., Alexandria, VA 22314-3492. Workshop brochures are also available from APPA. The Commission can provide reprints of the article at no cost.

Newsletter Distribution Update

Beginning in November, 1990, this newsletter’s distribution will change slightly. Commission sponsors will receive and advance copy of the newsletter, mailed first-class. In addition, all addresses on the current mailing list will receive ONE copy of the newsletter, mailed via bulk rate. In the past, library directors had been receiving two copies to be shared among staff. However, in response to numerous requests, the subscription base has been expanded to include multiple addresses within institutions.

You can help reduce the Commission’s mailing costs by notifying us of unwanted subscriptions


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
Patricia Cece, Communications Assistant