CPA Newsletter #67, May 1994

Commission on Preservation and Access

The Commission on Preservation and Access

Newsletter

May 1994

Number 67

ARL, NHA, Commission to Cosponsor Testimony for NEH Preservation and Access

Testimony to support the 1995 budget of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in its efforts to preserve and provide access to deteriorating humanities resources is scheduled for May 9, 1994. As in past years, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the National Humanities Alliance (NHA), and the Commission are cosponsoring testimony that affirms the progress of the 20-year brittle books program managed by the NEH Division of Preservation and Access. The cosponsored testimony will be presented by Dr. Jerry D. Campbell, University Librarian, Duke University, and will include a photo-CD demonstration of preserved texts and images.

As reported in the March 25, 1994, issue of the ALA Washington Newsletter, “The Administration’s FY 1995 budget request for the National Endowment for the Humanities is a flat budget, exactly the same as that for FY94. If appropriations for NEH are enacted without change, FY95 will be the fourth consecutive year with virtually no growth.”

NEH Grants Preserve, Provide Access to Collections

As part of an ongoing effort to preserve and make accessible the nation’s heritage recorded in fragile historic documents, newspapers and photographs, the National Endowment for the Humanities’ (NEH) Division of Preservation and Access has awarded grants to 26 institutions nationwide.

Libraries, archives and museums in 16 states and the District of Columbia received grants for projects that include microfilming and cataloging of U.S. newspapers, processing and preserving document collections, and conducting preservation-training programs. Two of the grants support the continuation of work begun by members of the Commission’s Digital Preservation Consortium (DPC). The total amount of all the grants is nearly $6.5 million. Among them are the following:

  • Huntington Library, San Marino – Cataloging and preservation of the early English pamphlet collection, 1500-1799, which consists of 6,000 titles.
  • Yale University – Related to the DPC, a research and demonstration project to study the organizational, financial and technical issues involved in converting microfilm to digital imagery.
  • President and Fellows of Harvard College, Cambridge – Cataloging and preservation of 5,015 drawings representing 123 architectural projects and 48 photograph albums in the archival collections of Henry Hobson Richardson.
  • Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC), Andover – Ten preservation microfilming workshops around the country over a two-year period for supervisory staff of libraries and archives, leading to the training of some 150 people in the management of microfilming projects.
  • University of Minnesota Libraries, Minneapolis – Arrangement, description and preservation of manuscripts and illustrations of American and British children’s books held in the university’s Kerlan collection.
  • Cornell University, Ithaca – A research and demonstration project, also related to the DPC, to test the feasibility of producing from the digitized pages of 10,000 volumes microfilm that will meet national preservation standards for quality and image permanence. The volumes to be scanned in this two-year project comprise the retrospective core literature of agricultural economics and rural sociology at Cornell.
  • New York Public Library, New York – Arrangement, description, cataloging and preservation of primary resources in seven repositories that document the history of dance. This is part of a project by the Dance Heritage Coalition to preserve and make accessible the creative contributions of American dance (see February 1993 newsletter).
  • New York State Education Department, Albany – Preservation microfilming of 462 volumes of surveyors’ field books and 245 color maps prepared during the 18th- and 19th- centuries, and the reformatting of 6,712 glass-plate and nitrate negatives that document the exploration, mapping and protection of land and environmental resources of New York State.
  • New York University, New York – Arrangement, description and microfilming of the archives of Greenwich House, a pioneering settlement house in New York City.

For further information about these or other NEH grants, contact James Turner at (202) 606-8671 or Duane DeBruyne at (202) 606-8456.

NYU Brings Sponsor Total to 67

New York University (NYU) recently joined the ranks of Commission sponsors, bringing the list of supporting institutions to 67. Sponsors include 23 public and 28 private educational institutions, as well as eight public, state, and federal libraries; six publishers, one higher education coalition, and one association. All sponsors receive expedited mailings of publications, newsletters, and other information. The Commission’s two preservation and access exhibits are also available to sponsors at no charge.

Pell and Yates Receive Honors from AIC

The American Institute for Conservation (AIC) board recently bestowed its most prestigious award, the Forbes Medal, named in honor of Edward Waldo Forbes, to Senator Claiborne Pell and Congressman Sidney Yates for their many years of service to the conservation of cultural property. Yates, first elected to the House of Representatives in 1948, is chairman of the appropriations subcommittee which provides annual funds for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and the Institute of Museum Services (IMS). Pell, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Education, Arts, and Humanities, has served as a U.S. Senator since 1961. AIC recognized that both men have a clear understanding of the issues and concerns of the conservation field, and that during the course of several decades, their leadership in congress in promoting the importance of the arts and humanities has been exemplary. For further information about this award, contact Michelle C. Flynn, AIC, (202) 452-9545.

AIC, Commission Exploring Joint Concerns

The American Institute for Conservation (AIC) and the Commission are exploring areas of common interest, in particular the recent research projects recommended by the Commission’s Preservation Science Council. The issue of library collections conservation to address the care of non-rare materials also is a joint concern. This article was prepared by the AIC, which is in turn publishing an article about Commission initiatives in its newsletter. In addition, the Commission’s communications Program Officer serves on the AIC’s Advisory Council.

The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works is the national membership organization of conservation professionals dedicated to preserving the art and historic artifacts of our cultural heritage for future generations. AIC provides a forum for the exchange of ideas on conservation and advances the practice and promotes the importance of the conservation of cultural property. AIC’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice defines appropriate conduct for the field. AIC members are practicing conservators, conservation scientists, educators, administrators, technicians and students; archivists, curators, and other museum and library professionals; and architects and art historians. AIC also welcomes members from other disciplines who are interested in conservation.

Two AIC specialty groups are of particular interest to the Commission on Preservation and Access–the Book and Paper group and the Photographic Materials group.

Book and Paper Group

The Book and Paper group (BPG) is the largest of the AIC specialty groups, currently numbering almost 1,000 members. Initially, the group consisted primarily of fine art and paper conservators. Gradually, they were joined by book conservators, attracted by a common interest in paper conservation. As the focus of the conservation field shifted from strictly the treatment of individual items to include the preservation of collections, conservators interested in library and archival collections joined the group.

One BPG project, the Paper Conservation Catalog (PCC) was begun in 1983, with eight editions issued. Involving dozens of paper conservators, the PCC assembles in a comprehensive, written form information about current treatments for historic and artistic works on paper. Thirty-eight different topics or “chapters” have been identified for inclusion. A similar project, the Book Conservation Catalog (BCC), begun in 1987 is progressing.

More recently, the Library Collections Conservation Discussion Group (LCCDG) was established to address the care of non-rare library materials. At the 1992 LCCDG session at the AIC annual meeting, a number of research libraries and conservation centers exhibited samples of their book treatments and repairs. In a similar session in 1993, binding problems were grouped according to type and the solutions evaluated as to their various merits. Eventually, the LCCDG’s aim is to produce a much needed book-on-book repair.

The BPG presents a mixed program of papers and presentations at the AIC annual meeting addressing the diverse interests of paper, book, library, and archival conservators. Reports on research, case histories of treatments, technical tips, preservation programs, and panel discussions on different aspects of the field are all informative. Since 1981, BPG has also produced the Book and Paper Group Annual, a nonjuried publication that includes papers given at the annual meeting and other submitted materials.

Photographic Materials Group

The Photographic Materials group (PMG) consists of nearly 250 members interested in photographic preservation, conservation treatment, history, and technology. The backgrounds and interests of PMG members mirror the diversity of materials found in photographic media (plastic film, glass, metal, composite objects including wood, paper prints, and album/book structures). In addition to a core group of photographic conservators trained in this specialty, PMG members include curatorial staff and preservation administrators from libraries, archives, and fine art museums having substantial photographic collections; proprietors of negative duplication businesses; book, paper, and object conservators with an interest in photographic preservation and conservation due to a subspecialization or institutional need; and photographers.

PMG presents a half- or full-day session at the AIC annual meeting. In addition, PMG sponsors a biannual, two-day winter meeting, which usually includes a one-day, pre- or post-conference session featuring workshops in historic photographic techniques, and lectures.

PMG meetings usually include a range of talks covering preservation of print, album, and negative collections, treatment case studies, informal treatment tips, updates on research into the stability of photographic media or treatment methods; disaster recovery, the history and technology of photography, and working methods of photographers. In general, PMG focuses on still photographic media rather than motion picture, but presentations are occasionally given in this area due to commonality of materials (plastic), stability issues.

The last biannual winter meeting was held in Austin, Texas in February 1993. Two days of presentations were followed by a post-session day devoted to color photography–technical history, identification, preservation, and exhibition dangers. General session talks included digital imaging for access and for image restoration, and an update of research at the Image Permanence Institute.

PMG publishes the biannual Topics in Photographic Preservation, a nonjuried compilation of papers submitted by members, usually based on talks presented at PMG meetings. PMG members are involved in writing sections of a Photographic Materials Conservation Catalog, now in the developmental stage.

Betsy Palmer Eldridge, Book and Paper group chair, and Sarah S. Wagner, Photographic Materials group chair, prepared the foregoing information and welcome inquiries. Contact AIC, 1717 K Street, N.W., Suite 301, Washington, DC 20006.

NISO Publishes Standards for Coated and Uncoated Paper

The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) is now offering in its NISO Press 1994 Catalog copies of standards for coated and uncoated paper. Permanence of Paper for Printed Publications and Documents in Libraries and Archives sets the basic criteria for these types of papers, and covers pH value, tear resistance, alkaline reserve and lignin threshold. This revision to the original 1984 standard is based on testing conducted by the Institute of Paper Science and Technology and contributions from paper makers, publishers, printers, and the preservation community. For further information contact NISO, P.O. Box 338, Oxon Hill, MD 20750-0338.

Paper Discusses Pros and Cons of Electronic Libraries and Journals

A new paper, Electronic Libraries and Electronic Journals, by Michael Lesk, a member of the Commission’s Technology Assessment Advisory Committee (TAAC), discusses the many challenges that libraries, higher education institutions, and publishers face as the world of electronic journals and libraries expands and improves. Lesk notes that there is a public perception that electronic libraries are “about to happen,” yet there are only a small number of primary journals actually available in full-text form.

Lesk’s publication, part of the Tenth British Library Research Lecture, 1993, highlights questions and concerns about the performance of electronic libraries and publishing that pertain to both publishers and Internet operators. It emphasizes the importance of the preservation and intellectual control of the current system, while providing the searching and quick access capabilities of electronics. Lesk suggests that there is a need to ease the transition to systems for distributing images of printed pages.

He concludes with a list of components for a system that establishes a way of “arranging to distribute information that is low-cost, does not encourage cheating, and is easy to use.” Noting that although the major difficulties are still economics, risk of theft, and procedural, such a system would still have a role for commercial publishers while allowing the access that Internet operators desire.

Electronic Libraries and Electronic Journals is published by and available free of charge from The British Library, Publications, Research & Development Department, 2 Sheraton Street, London W1V 4BH, England.

Planned Commission Exhibits, 1994

Date Exhibit Location
Mar. 7-29 Modular Exhibit University of Texas at Austin
Apr.1 to May 1 Both Longwood College, Farmville, Virginia
May 5-6 Modular Exhibit Lehigh University
May 6-13 Brittle Book Exhibit Pennsylvania State University
June 20-21 Modular Exhibit Association of American University Presses Annual Meeting – Washington, DC
July 1 to Aug. 15 Both Charleviox Historical Society
Sept. 1-4 Modular Exhibit American Political Science Association Annual Meeting – New York, New York
Sept. 8-9 Modular Exhibit Society of American Archivists Annual Meeting – Indianapolis, Indiana
Oct. 6-9 Modular Exhibit Society for the History of Technology Annual Meeting – Lowell, Massachusetts
Oct. 20-22 Modular Exhibit American Society of Legal History Annual Meeting – Washington, DC
Oct 27-30 Modular Exhibit American Studies Association Annual Meeting – Nashville, Tennessee
Dec. 27-30 Modular Exhibit American Philological Association Annual Meeting – Atlanta, Georgia

For more detailed information about exhibits, contact Sonny Koerner at the Commission.


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