CPA Newsletter #38, Sep 1991

Commission on Preservation and Access

The Commission on Preservation and Access

Newsletter

September 1991

Number 38

Management Seminar Teaches Strategy

Preservation Administrators From 16 College Libraries Translate Theory into Practice

Individual responsibility for learning, flexible instruction tailored to college libraries’ needs, and lots of group work applying management principles to practical products contributed to a “tough. but incredibly great experience,” according to instructors and participants of the July Preservation Management Seminar cosponsored by the Commission and the SOLINET Preservation Program.

… I have more confidence. I have reinforcement on what I’m doing right and directions for expansion/ improvement.

The marathon seven-day event, which included advance readings and day and evening sessions, was designed by SOLINET preservation staff and the Commission’s College Libraries Committee, composed of eight college library directors. Two major training objectives were to help attendees develop a solid base of plans for addressing their libraries’ most pressing preservation needs, and to enable libraries to devise a process for managing preservation activities, not as a separate department, but incorporated into the existing organization.

It really was preservation boot camp. Great to be steeped (if not marinated) in preservation information.

Switching between lectures and work groups, the 16 participants were introduced to broad issues and planning strategies, and then challenged to apply the principles to actual work situations. Breakout groups developed staff training programs, a freshman orientation course, disaster recovery plans, and other take-home materials.

I gained the most help on strategic planning and utilizing other staff for decision-making and planning.

Members of the College Libraries Committee selected the 16 participants from 27 applications. Over 18 months of planning went into the event, which is likely to be repeated next year. Institutional commitment to preservation was a major factor in selecting attendees; SOLINET will be conducting a six-month evaluation of the seminar’s impact on participating libraries’ activities and programs. Those interested in applying for a future seminar can contact:

SOLINET Preservation Program
400 Colony Square, Plaza Level Atlanta, GA 30361-6301

Faculty were: Lisa Fox (dean), Program Development Office for Preservation, SOLINET; Charlotte Brown, College Archivist Special Collections Librarian, Franklin and Marshall College; Carol Eyler, Head of Technical Services, Mercer university; and Carolyn Clark Morrow, Malloy-Rabinowitz Preservation Librarian, Harvard University.

Micropublisher Survey Moves Ahead

RLG to Manage Major Study of Commercial Filmers

Some 750 micropublishers will be contacted regarding such issues as the quality, storage conditions, and location of microform master negatives, as part of a survey to be conducted by the Research Libraries Group, inc., under contract to the Commission. The project builds on an initial survey developed and validated by the American Association of Law Libraries, also under contract to the Commission. The new contract calls for RLG to submit to the Commission no later than December 1, 1991, the following products: A Directory of Micropublishers, tabulated survey results, and a narrative analysis of the survey. The survey covers microform production and quality control, storage of first-generation master negative film, storage containers and enclosures, and inspection of stored first-generation negatives.

There can be major differences between the standards used … for commercial purposes and for preservation.

The report from the AALL pretest was included as an insert to the November-December 1990 newsletter. Answers from the pretest and discussions with production personnel showed that there can be major differences between the standards used for the production and storage of master negatives for commercial purposes and for preservation.

EROMM Pilot Project to Benefit Preservation

Increased Capacity for Compatible International Database

As part of a program dedicated to the libraries in Europe, the 12-member Commission of the European Communities (CEC) is helping establish the “EROMM Project” to set up a pilot machine-readable European Register of Microfilm Masters. The Commission on Preservation and Access also is supporting the project with small, but important, supplemental funds.

Hans Rütimann, Program Officer for the International Project, was initially invited to EROMM’s first meeting (in Luxembourg in early December 1989), during which the feasibility study for such a register was reviewed. The CEC EROMM initiative is being taken quite seriously by its member countries, according to Rütimann. The project is expected to expand beyond the European countries, and cooperation with North American bibliographic utilities will be considered.

CEC is providing 60 percent of the total cost for the first year’s operation (Phase 1). The Commission on Preservation and Access is using Mellon Foundation monies to support the remaining 40 percent of the initial costs, or ECU’s 67,960. The EROMM contract calls for making available in a common database bibliographic information about preservation microfilms. Participating in the first phase of the CEC project are the British Library (England), the Bibliotheque Nationale (France), the Biblioteca Nacional (Portugal), and the Staats- und Universitütsbibliothek Göttingen (Germany).

The pilot phase is to take input from the four countries and create a UNlMARC-based file. expected to be compatible with the minimum data requirements recommended for the international exchange of bibliographic records of microform masters.

Medieval Scholars Receive Preservation Funds from NEH To Save 12,000 Embrittled Volumes

The Medieval Academy of America Committee on Library Preservation, working in concert with the Commission’s Scholarly Advisory Committee initiative, has received more than $629,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to preserve the contents of 12,794 embrittled scholarly volumes. The three-year grant was awarded to the University of Notre Dame, which houses The Medieval Institute and its library.

According to Robert C. Miller, director of libraries at the University of Notre Dame, The Medieval Institute’s library is one of a handful of research collections in the world that is a self-contained resource for research in medieval studies. The collection is used daily by faculty and students at Notre Dame, and the Institute regularly hosts visiting international scholars.

About half the library’s volumes fall within the brittle books period of 1800 to 1950. The microfilming activity will preserve embrittled volumes particularly rich for studying medieval intellectual life, including philosophy, religious studies, and education.

In cooperation with the Medieval Academy, the Commission has been sponsoring meetings of the Scholarly Advisory Group on Medieval Studies, IIOW chaired by Susanne Roberts, Humanities Bibliographer at Yale University Library. In addition to developing the grant application, the group is:

  • Identifying libraries with strong general collections in medieval studies and in sub-disciplines of the field;
  • Assembling a list of prominent collections;
  • Locating programs that contribute to preservation of materials for medieval studies; and
  • Encouraging grant applications and preservation efforts by members of the Medieval Academy.

Newsletters from January, May, and October, 1990, describe previous Medieval Studies activities supported by the Commission.


A book it has been said, is a machine to think with.

from Caring for Your Books, by Michael Dirda, issued by the Book of the Month Club, New York, NY.

Modern Language and Literature Scholars Issue Recommendations

Scholarly Advisory Committee Completes 18 Month Study

The Commission’s Scholarly Advisory Committee on Modern Language and Literature, after 18 months of study, has issued its final report. Preserving the Literary Heritage. The eight-page report summarizes the basic principles that emerged from the committee’s discussions, and recommendations for action by professional organizations and scholars of modern language and literature.

The committee’s recommendations:

  • Educate colleagues and librarians about the magnitude of the brittle book problem:
  • Assure a foolproof mechanism for bibliographic control:
  • Pursue liaisons with European libraries:
  • Encourage Congress to appropriate more money for preservation; and
  • Use the Modern Language Association as a clearinghouse for recommendations from various groups for which particular collections are deemed most important for preservation.

The members of the committee were: Emory Elliott (California, Riverside); John Fisher (Tennessee); Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (Harvard); Elaine Marks (Wisconsin, Madison): W.J.T. Mitchell Chicago); Rainer Nagele (Johns Hopkins); Annabel Patterson (Duke); Catharine Stimpson (Rutgers, New Brunswick); and J. Hillis Miller, Chair (California, Irvine).

Complimentary copies of the report have been distributed to the Commission’s mailing list. Additional copies are available, while supplies last, at no charge from Trish Cece, Communications Assistant.

Mass Deacidification at Harvard

Special Report by Carolyn Clark Morrow, Malloy-Rabinowitz Preservation
Librarian, Harvard University and Harvard College Libraries, July 1991

Harvard University Library is moving forward with the development of its mass deacidification program. A task group was formed in 1990 to investigate three aspects of mass deacidification: selection. technology and financial planning. The subgroup on technology has been particularly active, analyzing available deacidification processes with the assistance of Harvard Chemistry professors James Butler (Division of Applied Sciences) and Andrew Barron (Department of Chemistry).

In April 1991, the technology subgroup made site visits to deacidification facilities at Texas Alkyls (Akzo) in Deer Park, Texas, and Lithium Division (FMC) in Bessemer City, North Carolina. Following the sit visits, batches of materials were sent to each facility in order to demonstrate treatment. While Harvard will use the treated batches to visually demonstrate the effect of deacidification on a variety of library materials, it has also contributed to the in-depth study underway at the Canadian Conservation Institute, under the direction of Helen Burgess, Senior Conservation Scientist, to further assess and com pare the effectiveness and characteristics of commercial deacidification processes.

Based on the successful treatment of its sample batches and on the judgment of its task group on deacidification technology, Harvard will send library materials for mass deacidification in fiscal year 1992, spending approximately $85,000. The following libraries will have materials deacidified: Law School Library, Widener Library (reference collection, map collection), Tozzer Library (anthropology), Fine Arts Library, Kummel Library (geology), and the Music Library. In May 1991, collection managers at Harvard participated in a meeting with Richard Miller, Deacidification Project Manager for Akzo Chemicals, Inc., to discuss the treatment process and cycle, logistics, and selection criteria.

Harvard will continue to develop the rationale for its mass deacidification program, even while it begins the treatment of collection materials on a modest scale. Harvard believes that a useful strategy for initiating a mass deacidification program is to start small, gain operational experience, and gradually build to an appropriate size program based on the needs of the collection and the priorities of the library’s overall preservation program.

1992 NEH Funding Below 5-Year Plan

An excerpt from the American Library Association ALA Washington Newsletter report on House action on the 1992 budget for the National Endowment for the Humanities (June 27, 1991):

… The $4 million increase for the Office of Preservation represents additional funds for the National Heritage Preservation Program (to stabilize collections of material culture), raising it from the $4.2 million requested to $8.2 million. The remaining $16.7 million is for preservation of library and archival materials, $1 million below the level envisioned for FY ’92 in the original NEH multiyear plan, but $100,000 more than the Administration’s FY ’92 request for brittle books preservation. Compared with the budget request, the House bill includes an increase of $600,000 for microfilming of brittle books, but a decrease of $500,000 for training of preservation personnel.

Beyond Brittle Books

Strategies for Manuscripts, Archives, Photographs Under Investigation

As announced in the July newsletter, the Commission has contracted with Margaret Child to serve as a part-time consultant for the next several months. Ms. Child’s initial assignment is to encourage the development of both macro and micro strategies for setting priorities for the preservation of manuscript, archival and photograph collections.

At the present time, it is difficult to do national planning or even to evaluate the relative merit of individual projects to preserve such materials because there are no objective standards by which to judge the strength of a collection and no generally accepted guide-lines to determine the degree of deterioration.

Strategies such as the “Great Collections” method of selection that have been used to set priorities for filming brittle books work at best imperfectly for special collections and archives because extremely important materials on a single subject are scattered among a far greater number of repositories.

Similarly, the “vacuum cleaner” approach to preserving virtually the entire contents of a print collection may not work well for archival collections whose sheer volume may require that only a sample be preserved. On the other hand, the growing practice in libraries of reformatting only items that are “basket cases” may also not work for archives because the costs of distinguishing degrees of deterioration within a collection and delaying treatment to a later date may be excessive.

Ms. Child plans to work closely with the Preservation Section of SAA, the Rare Books and Manuscripts Division of ACRL, and other interested groups and individuals to begin to define preservation strategies appropriate to special collections and archival materials. She would appreciate suggestions for projects that might be undertaken and samples of internal procedures and forms developed by repositories to survey collections to determine condition and needs. Ms. Child can be reached at the Commission on Thursdays and Fridays.

Preservation on Upswing in Research Libraries

Brittle Books filming Accelerates;
More Reliance on External Funding

The 1989-90 ARL Preservation Statistics report from the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) offers persuasive evidence of the continuing development and expansion of preservation programs within North American research institutions. Preservation expenditures for the 115 reporting libraries rose to over $66 million in 1989-90. Increasingly, funds from external sources are augmenting institutional resources, and a significant portion of preservation budgets comes from grants.

The 1989-90 data underscore the impact of the accelerating efforts of the brittle books program, says ARL. Libraries microfilmed approximately 92,000 volumes in 1989-90.

The 1989-90 ARL Preservation Statistics are available from ARL, 1527 New Hampshire Ave.. NW, Washington. DC 20036.


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