CPA Newsletter #50, Oct 1992

Commission on Preservation and Access

The Commission on Preservation and Access

Newsletter

October 1992

Number 50

Cornell, Yale Advance with Digital Technologies

Cornell and Yale Universities have released reports on their explorations of the interinstitutional use of digital technologies to preserve and enhance access to deteriorating scholarly works of national and international importance. The two reports describe work conducted under contract to the Commission as part of an initial phase of an evolving digital preservation consortium.

The Cornell report on Phase I (January 1990 – December 1991 ) of the university’s Joint Study in Digital Preservation–Digital Capture, Paper Facsimiles, and Network Access describes the collaborative efforts of Cornell and the Xerox Corporation to capture the contents of 1,000 brittle books as digital images and to produce printed paper facsimiles. Of equal interest is the role of digital technology in providing networked access to library resources. Participation in the joint study convinced Cornell of the value of digital technology to preserve and make available research library material. Principal conclusions are:

  1. Digital image technology provides an alternative–of comparable quality and lower cost–to photocopying for preserving deteriorating library materials.
  2. Subject to the resolution of certain problems, digital scanning technology offers a cost effective adjunct or alternative to microfilm preservation.
  3. Digital technology has the potential to enhance access to library materials.
  4. Through the implementation of document control structures, digital technology offers a means to facilitate access and to provide links between the library catalog and the material itself.
  5. The infrastructure developed for library preservation and access activities supports other applications in the electronic dissemination of information.

Yale’s new report narrates the organizational phase of Project Open Book the university’s effort to convert 10,000 volumes in microfilm format into digital image form and to explore the effects of scale on emerging preservation imaging systems. The master plan for this project was first detailed in the June 1991 report, From Microfilm to Digital Imagery. In the organizational phase, Yale has established the internal project team and steering committee; identified the required hardware, software, services and staff; established costs and developed a budget; and selected a vendor partner. Two remaining objectives are to identify criteria for selecting the materials for conversion and to raise the necessary funds to support subsequent project phases. The report concludes:

As work proceeds to the next phases in Project Open Book, Yale recognizes the need in the library community to find collaborative ways to address the key issues raised by the use of digital image technology. In particular, it needs to build a technical and organizational infrastructure of equipment, software, networks, and knowledgeable users and staff that spans multiple campuses and facilitates the reliable and cost-effective interchange of image documents.


These digital preservation projects are being conducted under contract to the Commission with funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which also is supporting distribution of the new reports to the Commission’s mailing list. Additional copies are available while supplies last, with prepayment by check (U.S. funds only) required. Please refer to complete title when ordering. Commission sponsors receive all publications at no charge.

The Joint Study in Digital Preservation, Report Phase I (January 1990-December 1991 ) Digital Capture, Paper Facsimiles, and Network Access, by Anne R Kenney and Lynne K. Personius Cornell University, 47 pages, $10.00
“The Organizational Phase of Project Open Book. On the status of an effort to convert microfilm to digital imagery, a report of the Yale University Library to the Commission on Preservation and Access, by Donald Waters and Shari Weaver, July 1992, 11 pages, $5 00.
[Earlier report on Open Book] From Microfilm to Digital Imagery. A Report of the Yale University Library, June 1991, 41 pages $5.00.

Using Scientific Information for Preservation Decisions

The Science Workshop for Preservation Administrators sponsored last month by the Commission provided opportunities for librarians, archivists and scientists to explore jointly how scientific research can be obtained, interpreted, and applied to solve critical preservation issues. The 2-1/2 day event included lectures on the general theory of scientific research, as well as team exercises in problem-solving and decision-making focused on specific preservation problems. The workshop was the first of a planned series to develop cooperative approaches for setting prioritized research agendas.

An opening session examined in detail the principles of designing a scientific research program around a preservation concern, with emphasis on defining the problem, understanding the experimental approach, analyzing data, interpreting results, and reaching conclusions. A panel session on the process of buying research introduced crucial non-scientific elements such as contracts, principal investigators, obligations of parties, deliverables, costs, ownership of intellectual properties, and contingencies.

The science faculty and preservation managers met in small groups to discuss such questions as “Why can’t I get a straight answer from scientific research?” “How can R&D results be used to make decisions?” and “How can risk management be used in these decisions?” A seminar explored how scientific laboratories choose their research projects, identifying differences between the strategies of large and small institutions. Although libraries try to identify projects that address important preservation needs, fiscal realities often affect the timing and nature of their research.

The Commission’s decision to sponsor the workshop follows several years of working with preservation managers to develop a research agenda and a systematic collaborative review of scientific research articles. The design and conduct of the workshop, held September 9-11 at Belmont Conference Center, MD, was supported by the Commission with funds from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation while participants’ institutions supported travel expenses. An informal account of the work.shop, including possibilities for future action, will he distributed by the Commission.

Invited to the event were: Wes Boomgaarden, Ohio State University; Connie Brooks, Stanford University; Sherry Byrne, University of Chicago; Margaret Byrnes, National Library of Medicine; Paul Conway, Yale University; Richard Frieder, Northwestern University; Janet Gertz, Columbia University; Jan Merrill Oldham, University of Connecticut; Carla Montori, University of Michigan; Carolyn Clark Morrow, Harvard University; Barclay Ogden, University of California, Berkeley; James Stroud, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center; Karen Turko, University of Toronto; Chris Ward, New York State Archives.

Faculty were: James R. Druzik, The Getty Conservation Institute; James M. Reilly, Image Permanence Institute; Donald K Sebera, Library of Congress; and Peter Sparks, Consultant.

Microfilming Internship for the Deutsche Bibliothek Advances International Collaboration

The Commission Board has approved a contract with the Micrographic Preservation Service (MAPS) to conduct an 11-week internship program in the management of preservation microfilming operations this fall for staff of the Deutsche Bücherei, Leipzig, Germany. Explorations regarding training needs in that country were initiated before its unification. The Deutsche Bibliothek holds historic German collections that have received little attention over the past 40 years.

The contract, supported with funds from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, provides for the training at MAPS of three Deutsche Bücherei staff members who are expected to become the supervising cadre of a new large-scale preservation microfilming unit, and for advice on the equipment, space, and utility resources needed for the facility. The training program is scheduled to coincide with the acquisition of the first camera at the Deutsche Bücherei.

Instruction will cover processing, duplication, special film treatments, quality assurance of second and third generation film, and diazo training and quality assurance. In the technical area, MAPS will provide training in equipment maintenance and repair. In the operational area, trainees will gain hands-on experience working with MAPS micrographic technicians who will serve as mentors. MAPS staff will follow up with a week’s consultation three months after the German staff has returned to work in their own laboratory.

In Germany, it is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of the collections are threatened and 12 to 16 percent are already brittle. The country is undertaking a large-scale effort to address the problem. In addition to microfilming projects, the German Research Council is financing work toward a national preservation strategy and the German Library Institute has recently published Microfilms in Research Libraries (Deutsches Bibliotheksinstitut, Mikroformen in Wissenschaftlichen Bibliotheken Eine Studie im Auftrag der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft; Berlin, 1 99 1), the results of a two-year study that takes stock of what has been done and what should be done in microfilming.

Bentley Seminar Addresses Archival Selection

Participants in a seminar held July 25-28 at the Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, contributed major revisions to the draft of the Commission’s forthcoming report on archival selection. The seminar was supported by an award from the Research Fellowship Program for Study of Modern Archives funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Bentley Historical Library. As a result of the wide-ranging discussions, the report now includes an enunciation of the basic principles underlying selection for preservation plus recommendations to resource allocators, to the library and archives professions, and for possible future projects and other activities.

In addition, a section on collection management and preservation addresses the elements that comprise responsible collecting and responsible custody. A final section provides guidelines for determining value and a decision model for ranking discrete groups of records within a single repository. The revised draft of the report incorporating the revisions is being reviewed by a number of the seminar participants, with publication planned for early 1993.

Most of the Is persons at the seminar were members of the Task Force on Appraisal, the Task Force on Documentation Strategy, and the project s Advisory committee. The Task Force on Appraisal is chaired by Robert Sink of the New York Public Library and composed of Paul Conway, Yale University Library; Christine Ward, New York State Archives; Edie Hedlin, Consultant; Frank Boles, Central Michigan University; and Sarah Wagner, National Archives and Records Administration. The Task Force on Documentation Strategy is chaired by Timothy Ericson of the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and composed of Richard Cox, University of Pittsburgh; Karen Garlick, Smithsonian Institution; and Bruce Bruemmer University of Minnesota. The Advisory Committee includes Larry Hackman, New York State Archives; James O’Toole, University of Massachusetts, Boston; Anne Kenney, Cornell University; and Helen Samuels, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Also in attendance were Nancy Elkington, Preservation Program Officer at the Research Libraries Group; Evelyn Frangakis, Manager of the Society of American Archivists Preservation Management Training Program; and Margaret Child, consultant to the Commission who has been managing the archival project.

Reprint of RLG Talk on “Electronic Technologies and Preservation”

Included with this newsletter is the printed version of a presentation by Donald J. Waters, Director of Library and Administrative Systems at Yale University Library, to the annual meeting of the Research Libraries Group, June 25, 1992. In his talk Electronic Technologies and Preservation, Waters provides a series of suggestions and proposals for incorporating new technologies into libraries of the future through collaborative action. Additional copies are available, while supplies last, for $5.00 (prepayment required). Commission sponsors receive all publications at no charge.

RLG to Field-Test Decision Model for Archives

The Research Libraries Group, Inc., (RLG) has agreed to assume responsibility for further development and field-testing of a tool to aid archivists in assessing need and assigning a preservation priority to discrete groups of records within a repository. The decision model under development is presented in the final section of the forthcoming report on archival selection (see above).

The decision model was adapted from a survey instrument originally intended to provide a systematic process for assessing preservation needs, recommending appropriate actions, and setting preservation priorities within library collections. This model is designed to assess archival materials at the series and/or collection level and to assign preservation priorities among them.

To investigate the usefulness of the model in planning future cooperative projects, RLG’s preservation and archives specialists will work with institutions interested in field testing and further refining the model. Additionally, it will be used by participant in the Society of American Archivists preservation training program.

Geologists Demonstrate Image Technology

Earth Science researchers will begin their discussion of special preservation problems in the geology literature with a demonstration of the results of the Joint Task Force on Text and Image Pilot Project at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America (GSA) this month in Cincinnati. The demonstration is being done in conjunction with the Geoscience Information Society (GIS), an affiliated society of GSA. The GIS exhibition hall booth will be set up to display the preservation options tested in the pilot project. Geologists will be able to try out the alternatives and discuss preservation with members of GIS.

The Geoscience Information Society has used the occasion of the pilot project demonstration to bring other preservation issues to the attention of the geology community. The Symposium organized by the society will include papers on preservation of photographs, digital imagery and experimentation with deacidification of geologic images. The Geological Society of America has embraced discussion of preservation issues with an article appearing in the professional journal. GSA Today, a mention in the daily conference newspaper and a showing of Slow Fires in the Science Theater.

The frequent presence of oversized. color maps has retarded preservation efforts in geology and the relatively high cost of color preservation will make hard decisions necessary in the future. The pilot project consists of 28 numbers of the New York State Museum Bulletin containing a variety of images from botanical illustrations to geological maps. The text of the Bulletin has been preserved on standard archival microfilm and the images have been preserved on black and white and color AS fiche. A CD has also been produced with black and white digital images of the text and color materials, both photographs and line drawings of the New York State Museum Bulletin.

Exhibits Extend Message About Preservation

The Commission’s Giant Brittle Book and new modular exhibits continue their journeys across the country declaring the importance of preservation. The Giant Brittle Book exhibit spent late winter and early spring traveling from Missouri to Massachusetts. The exhibit was loaned to the Washington University Medical Library and the Amherst College Library from February through May. According to Daria D’Arienzo, the Archivist of the College at Amherst, the exhibit was “impressive . . . and a great visual.” The reactions to the exhibit were positive and prompted several requests for more information about preservation.

The modular exhibit was displayed at the University of Tennessee, the Medieval Academy Committee on Library Preservation, the spring membership conference of AMIGOS, and the Georgia Institute of Technology. The 10×7 foot display around a full-color photograph of a brittle book with crumbling paper was “eye-catching,” according to Martha Griffin of the Archives Department at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The exhibit stood in the periodicals reading area where it was highly visible to students and faculty. Ms. Griffin commented that the exhibit was “helpful to educate users of the library. It’s a reminder to people that preservation is just as important as any other technological advancement in the library field.” Both exhibits are available for the upcoming fall months; contact Rebecca Kelly at (202) 939-3400 for more information.


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