CPA Newsletter #60, Sep 1993

Commission on Preservation and Access

The Commission on Preservation and Access

Newsletter

September 1993

Number 60

Penn State Completes Scanning in Digital Project

Pennsylvania State University reports that over 14,500 pages, including all of the Steel Workers’ Organizing Committee papers, have been scanned and stored on optical disk as part of an 18-month contract with the Commission to explore the potential of digital image technology as a preservation and access medium for archival collections. The project is one of a number of research and development efforts of the Commission’s Digital Preservation Consortium.

The project began in October 1992 with the arrival and installation of scanning equipment and software. Initial stages were spent experimenting with settings of various scanning parameters. Meetings were held with library archivists to determine image resolution and indexing requirements for each of the archival collections scheduled to be scanned, and a work-form was created to record bibliographic information (indexing data) for each primary document. Technicians participated in an orientation that included a discussion on the care and handling of brittle library materials, the special needs of archival collections, and a showing of the video “Slow Fires.” By December 1992, the project moved into full swing.

In February, two work shifts were imposed to gain maximum scanning time, and scanning rate increased by nearly three-fold to a range of 50-70 pages an hour. The editing of scanned images was held to a minimum to reduce rescanning time, and trial and error resulted in a marked improvement in image capture quality and a dramatic decrease in scanning errors. Over the last several months, numerous demonstrations of the scanning operation have been given to various library committees and departments. Business Service personnel at the library also have showcased the scanning operation and have scheduled demonstrations for various groups.

A more complete description of this project is available from the Commission.

Publishers Join Commission Sponsors

The Times Mirror and John Wiley & Sons, Inc., have become sponsors of the Commission for a three-year period. Both publishers are members of the Association of American Publishers, of which Commission board member Nicholas Veliotes is president. In a letter to chairman Billy E. Frye, Wiley’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Charles R. Ellis, noted “we will be pleased to sponsor the Commission … and strongly support the work you are doing.” Patrick A. Clifford, Group Vice President for Times Mirror, wrote, “Best of luck in restoring and microfilming the deteriorating books in our libraries as well as all the other specific and noble activities which this foundation supports.

Second Science Workshop to Develop Initial Projects
Directory of Research on Non-Print Media Underway

As part of a broad science research initiative, the participants of a 1992 science research workshop are being reconvened this month at a second workshop at the Belmont Conference Center, MD. The two-day workshop, jointly supported by the home institutions of the preservation administrators and the Commission, will advance the planning of three to four projects addressing the current, most important and critical needs of the preservation field. The primary objective of the first workshop was to establish productive links between the consumers of applied science in library and archives preservation with the producers of basic scientific research.

The workshop agenda again will use teams of preservation administrators with science advisors, operating with consensus decision-making, to develop the three to four research projects. The projects are expected to have a broad impact on advancing the national preservation effort, and will be identified within the larger context of a long-range, useful research agenda for the 1990s.

The workshop also is addressing needs related to education, institutional involvement, financial support, and information and publications. Under consideration are:

  • An ongoing mechanism to keep preservation administrators abreast of research results, to understand its implications, and to apply it to everyday practical problems.
  • Assistance in how best to articulate and communicate the research needs of institutions, since preservation administrators are often in the position of purchasing research from scientists.
  • Facilitation of the collaboration of interested institutions to design and fund needed research.
  • Expansion of the Commission’s efforts to identify and publicize the existence of new research in areas of interest.

In a related effort, the Commission has contracted with Dr. Margaret Child to prepare a directory of information sources on scientific research related to the preservation of sound recording, still and moving images, and magnetic tape, areas that have been identified as important for scientific research. Librarians and archivists concerned about the preservation of the documentary record have begun to recognize that far more than our paper-based heritage is threatened by deterioration. All these “other” media have their own specific and idiosyncratic physical and chemical characteristics.

There are at least two major applications for scientific inquiry: First, regarding storage of large collections of these materials, how to prolong the life of the original information carriers and minimize wear and tear caused by use of the information;, and second, as it becomes necessary, how to manage the migration or transfer of the information to an improved version of the original medium or to another medium. The new directory will include basic information on the principal public sector or non-profit institutions, organizations and publications concerned directly or indirectly with research on the preservation of non-paper-based media. The October newsletter will provide information on the availability of this directory.

Scientific Research Yields Management Tool for Storage of Acetate Film

The Image Permanence Institute (IPI) at Rochester Institute of Technology, NY, has published a Storage Guide for Acetate Film–a tool for those involved in the planning and evaluation of storage environments for acetate base photographic film, cinema film and microfilm. The guide was developed to help collection and preservation managers in museums, libraries and archives understand the way in which temperature and humidity (RH) in the storage environment can significantly increase or decrease the useful life of the film in their collections.

The guide represents five years of research on the deterioration of plastic film supports funded by the Division of Preservation and Access of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, and Eastman Kodak Company. The IPI study focused on how temperature and RH in the storage environment relate to the slow chemical deterioration of acetate film (the so-called “vinegar syndrome”). Using the resulting test data, IPI created the four-part publication to help institutions anticipate the effect of various temperature/RH conditions on their film collections and make improvements. The guide includes a 24-page booklet, a double-sided time/temperature/RH wheel, time contour graphs and a “time out of storage” table.

The IPI Storage Guide for Acetate Film costs $25.00, plus $2.00 shipping and handling. For information or orders contact Rochester Institute of Technology, Image Permanence Institute, 70 Lomb Memorial Drive, Rochester, New York 14623-5604.

Adapted from IPI Press Release

Second Preservation Management Seminar is Intense and Helpful

Evaluations from the 21 participants of the second Preservation Management Seminar for College Librarians, held on the Wellesley College campus July 22-30, 1993, describe an event that was intense in its activities and instruction, and that provided them with needed information, personal contacts, and guidance to help establish and strengthen college preservation programs. The following report is from Lisa Fox, dean of the faculty for the event, which was sponsored by SOLINET, Inc., and co-sponsored by the Commission:

The seminar included 69 hours of lecture, structured discussions, and small-group work sessions. Many participants could still be found sharing their experiences and discussing the issues after the sessions concluded at 9 each evening. Prior to the seminar, each student was responsible for completing an extensive set of background readings and homework assignments. Hearkening back to a comment from a 1991 seminar graduate, the group dubbed the event “Preservation Boot Camp II,” and concurred that this “total immersion” training strategy had yielded extraordinary results.

The curriculum addressed each major programmatic area within preservation, and participants developed several documents for use in their libraries. The faculty focused on helping the students gain a deeper technical understanding of preservation, build judgement and problem-solving skills, and develop realistic priorities and plans for managing preservation as a decentralized program.

At Wellesley College, participants were able to observe first-hand the benefits of a successful stack maintenance program, collections conservation, disaster preparedness, and other features of an integrated college library preservation program.

The Preservation Management Seminar was developed during 1990-91 by the Commission’s College Libraries Committee and SOLINET, with funding assistance from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and was offered first in JuLy 1991 at Washington & Lee University. This year the College Libraries Committee helped to refine the program and chose participants on a competitive application process. Students came from twelve states and the District of Columbia, with four from outside the U.S. Two participants from Central America had met with Hans Rütimann as part of the Commission’s International Project, which led to their interest in receiving this management-focused training. The group represented the full range of library functions: public and technical services, government documents, collection development, and special collections.

The faculty was named as a key to the event’s strength by 14 of the 21 participants. In addition to Fox, faculty members were Carol Eyler, Head of Technical Services & Systems, Mercer University; Jane Hedberg, Serials Librarian and Preservation Administrator, Wellesley College; Carolyn Clark Morrow, Malloy-Rabinowitz Preservation Librarian, Harvard University; and Karen Motylewski, Field Service Director, Northeast Document Conservation Center. Guest presentations were also made by Nancy Schrock and staff in the Harvard Preservation Office. Fox, who headed the planning effort for the 1991 and ’93 seminars, is working to identify organizations that might host the seminar in the future. Interested organizations can contact her at 404-627-2855 or by Internet at lfox@mail.solinet.net.

Quotes From Participants

I especially appreciated the diversity of the participants–each contributing something a little unique.

The intense nature of curriculum was analogous to a college course and enabled us to focus better on the subject matter.

I received all the information I could absorb, a clear vision of where I need to start, and some very good access to people I may need to contact.

I received a very solid overview of the problems connected with the implementation of a preservation program, and now believe I have the information to begin an action plan.

I now have a more global understanding and appreciation of the subject and feel that by beginning to implement small changes, I can ultimately end up with written policies and a managed preservation environment. Well worth the tuition!

ISO Approves International Paper Standard

The ISO Central Secretariat confirmed this past July the approval of an international standard for permanent paper (ISO/DIS 9706). According to Rolf Dahlø, chairman of the ISO-committee for Physical Keeping of Documents responsible for the international permanent paper standard, ISO/DIS 9706 was approved in accordance with the ISO/TEC directives, and will be turned over to the committee for editing and preparation for print.

Columbia Receives Grant for Mass Deacidification Pilot Test

The New York State Program for the Conservation and Preservation of Library Research Materials has given Columbia University a grant of $10,877 to conduct a pilot test run of the Akzo Chemicals DEZ mass deacidification process over the next eight months. New York University and the State University of New York at Stony Brook will cooperate in the project. Each library will select approximately 130 volumes to be treated. After treatment, the pH levels in the paper will be tested and compared with pH levels before treatment, to evaluate the completeness of the process.

Volumes selected for the pilot test will be from the general collections and will consist of items needing commercial rebinding, which eliminates concern about potential damage to the covers and adhesives. The results of the pilot will be disseminated to the eleven New York State Comprehensive Research Libraries in time to plan for a potential full-scale mass deacidification project. Further information is available from janet Gertz, Assistant Librarian, Preservation, Columbia University Libraries.

Adapted from Columbia University Internet announcement

Suggested Readings

The Permanence and Care of Color Photographs: Traditional and Digital Color Prints, Color Negatives, Slides, and Motion Pictures by Henry Wilhelm with contributing author Carol Brower covers the often controversial subject of preserving fading color photographic heritage. The book tells which color films and papers produced by major corporations are the best and worst in their class and presents detailed test results based on years of evaluating these products. Wilhelm supplies appropriate recommendations for the best ways of handling, mounting, framing, displaying, and storing color photographs and gives the predicted display lives (in years) of color print materials. The book addresses two opposing myths of color photography–that all color photographs are so impermanent that there is no way to save them, and that color materials today are so stable that their permanence need not be a concern. All major color processes marketed during the last 15 years are covered, along with current photographic materials and some of the newest digital color print systems. Available form Preservation Publishing Company, 719 State Street, P.O. Box 567, Grinnell, Iowa 50112.

The Reconfigured Eye–Visual Truth in the Post-Photographic Era, a 272-page book by William J. Mitchell, Dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at the Michigan Institute of Technology (MIT), discusses how the increasingly widespread use of videotape footage in journalism, the courtroom, and other arenas suggests that the photographic image carries more credibility than ever before. The book takes a systematic, critical look at the digital imaging revolution, describes the technology and explores its aesthetic potential, ethical and legal implications, and ability to change how one thinks. Mitchell argues that digital imaging technologies will result in the demise of traditional film-based photography, and addresses how these new technologies are calling into question the objectivity and veracity associated with photographs. Available from MIT Press, 55 Hayward Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142.


I will be talking to a lot of people who have the humanities close to their heart… I have a notion that we want to expand the participation of public in the humanities.

Sheldon Hackney, newly confirmed chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, quoted in The Washington Post, August 4, 1993.

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
Sonny Koerner–Managing Editor