CLIR Reports on Digitization of Seville Archives
Over the past decade, the Archivo General de Indias (AGI) in Seville, Spain, has undertaken an ambitious project to digitize its holdings. To date, more than eleven million pages of documents have been digitized relating to Spanish history in the New World. This month, CLIR will publish a comprehensive and detailed report on the experience of the AGI.
Apart from its sheer size, the project is significant for its track record. The system for providing access to the digital documents has been in use for five years. The Archives has thus had to deal with the day-to-day practical problems of operation and longer-term issues such as obsolescence of hardware, software, and data support.
Today, about one-third of AGI?s on-site consultations are done electronically. This has greatly reduced handling of the originals and will help to preserve them. Most researchers find that the quality of the digital surrogates meets their needs. Document images can be manipulated onscreen to improve contrast, reduce stains or water spots, or rotate view. AGI grants access to originals in exceptional cases.
The project was to serve access as well as preservation. The AGI is fortunate to have a wealth of finding aids?guides, inventories, catalogs, and indices?developed since it received its first papers in 1790. These finding aids have all been integrated into the central data management system that supports digital access.
Throughout the project, managers had to make decisions where no precedent existed. For example, in 1988 standard algorithms for color or grayscale images, such as JPEG and GIF, were not available. The AGI had to develop its own compression algorithm, which it used until standard forms emerged. Within the past several years, AGI has gradually shifted its files into the more standard algorithms through decompression and recompression.
Realizing that, often, ?the best was the enemy of the good,? managers also had to make decisions that were not optimal but were realistic, given available time and money. For example, no vocabulary control governed the accumulated finding aids. This raised the question of whether to use existing indices or revise them, which would require preparing strict rules of control or a list of subject headings. It was agreed that revising the indices would be impossible to do properly within a reasonable time. The variety was too great, and there were too many incompatibilities. Thus, existing indices were used, with no vocabulary control in the strict sense. Only certain standards or general guidelines for indexation were employed. Establishing lists of all index headings ever used at the Archivo remains a hope for the future.
Cost was a key factor in the Archives? decision not to manipulate images at the time of scanning; they appear on-screen as they do in the original. However, patrons may use various enhancement tools to improve legibility.
The report, written by Pedro Gonz?ez, former director of the Archives, offers an excellent account of how the Archives dealt with the myriad technical, organizational, and managerial challenges it faced in computerizing operations and embarking on this large-scale digitization project. As a case study, its lessons are invaluable.
The report, Computerization of the Archivo General de Indias: Strategies and Results, will be available from CLIR for $20. All orders must be prepaid by check in US dollars.
CLIR Issues Report on Selecting Research Collections for Digitization
Selection for digitization is a complex process. It has much in common with selection for purchase, microfilming, and withdrawal, and with other decision making that is integral to the work of libraries. The conversion of textual, visual, and numeric information into electronic form encompasses a range of procedures and technologies with varying implications and costs.
CLIR has published a new report, entitled Selecting Research Collections for Digitization, that proposes a model for decision making by research libraries planning to embark on digital conversion projects.
The authors, Dan Hazen, Jeffrey Horrell, and Jan Merrill-Oldham, of Harvard University, address a wide range of considerations that influence the decision to digitize. Among the topics they discuss are copyright; the intellectual nature of the source materials; current and potential users; actual and anticipated nature of use; the format and nature of the digital product; describing, delivering, and retaining the digital product; relationships to other digital efforts; and costs and benefits. In each chapter, the authors invite library managers to answer a set of questions that will help them shape sensible policies for their institutions.
The report is available from CLIR for $15. All orders must be prepaid by check in US dollars.
|News from the ECPA|
ECPA Wins Award
The European Commission on Preservation and Access (ECPA) has received the Dutch Victorine van Schaik award for the best publication in the field of library and information science in 1997. The publication, under the Dutch title Weten geweten gewist: Bedreigde wetenschappelijke collecties in archieven en bibliotheken (roughly, Going, Going, Gone: Endangered scholarly collections in archives and libraries) was written to accompany a small exhibition on the dangers threatening research collections.
The commendation reads in part: ?Weten geweten gewist explains in a probing and original way, clear to everyone who distributes or uses information, why collections are endangered. The authors discuss all aspects of the issue of conservation and have aimed at a much larger audience than just professionals.? There are plans to translate the publication into other European languages. European partners interested in translating the booklet into their own language are invited to contact the ECPA Secretariat, P.O. Box 19121, 1000 GC Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Fax: (3)20-620-49-41. E-mail: ECPA@bureau.knaw.nl. The publication can be ordered from the same address.
Summer University in Budapest
A course on Management Issues in Archival Preservation took place at the Central European University in Budapest, July 6-17. The ECPA served as cosponsor for this course, which was organized by the Open Society Archives (OSA). The 31 participants came from both the archive and library worlds. Most were from Central and Eastern Europe and the countries of the former USSR.
Two full days were devoted to planning a preservation program and another full day to disaster planning. The second week addressed specific questions relating to the various materials: paper, audiovisual materials, and electronic records. The course included visits to conservation workshops and the new building of the National Archives of Hungary.
Gabriella Albrecht-Kunszeri (National Archives of Hungary) and Maida Loescher (US National Archives and Records Administration) provided an introduction on ?Aspects of an Archives Move.? With many archives and libraries in Europe in the process of moving, this is a topical issue with important implications for preservation. The two session leaders are preparing guidelines on moving for the International Council of Archives.
This initiative of the OSA followed last year?s Summer School on Preservation Management, organized jointly by the Marburg Archivschule and the ECPA. In 1999, a summer course on preservation management is planned to take place in the United Kingdom. The ECPA hopes that similar courses can be organized in other regions and other European languages as well. European institutions that are willing to act as partners are invited to contact the ECPA Secretariat.
The Union of Librarian and Information Services Officers and the Open Society Foundation in Bulgaria have published a report entitled National Program for the Preservation of Library Collections. The report describes the results of a questionnaire covering many subjects that was answered by 47 Bulgarian libraries. It gives detailed insight into the state library collections in Bulgaria and presents a solid national plan for their preservation. The plan focuses on six different fields of action: (i) observation and monitoring of the state of library collections; (ii) planning of preservation activities under normal and under extreme conditions; (iii) restoration and conservation of major monuments: the choice for preservation; (iv) the transfer of parts of the literary and documentary heritage on microform carriers; (v) bibliographical control and improving access to library collections; and (vi) educational and qualification activities for library staff.
For more information, contact Maria Kapitanova, President of the Union of Librarians and Information Services Officers (ULISO), Sofia. Fax: (359)2-870734.
Conference on Preservation Management
The ECPA announces a European conference entitled ?Preservation Management: Between Policy and Practice? that will take place April 19-21, 1999, in The Hague, The Netherlands. This conference is organized by the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB, National Library of the Netherlands), IFLA-PAC, and the European Commission on Preservation and Access (ECPA).
The conference will focus on organizational, financial, and managerial aspects of preservation, with special emphasis on the interaction between theory and practice. In many archives and libraries, some form of agreement has been reached on a theoretical level about preservation requirements in general and abstract terms. However, the transition from theory to practice is often fraught with difficulties.
At this conference, case studies will be presented that illustrate efforts at institutions in various European countries. The studies should shed light on such questions as how one plans and budgets for a large preservation project and how a preservation program can be realized step by step. Technical aspects of preservation will be addressed only insofar as they bear on the general theme. The focus of the conference will be firmly on preservation as a management issue, in a context of planning, budgeting, staff management, and organization.
For more information about the conference and the preliminary program, please contact the ECPA Secretariat.
Continued Funding for Preservation Efforts in Brazil
The project ?Translation and Dissemination of Preservation Knowledge in Brazil? will continue with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (New York) and the VITAE Foundation (S? Paulo). In the initial project, guided by an alliance of interested organizations and coordinated by the National Archives of Brazil, 52 preservation titles were translated into Portuguese. The titles were then used as the basis for six workshops held throughout Brazil that enrolled more than 160 participants. In the process, the coordinators also gathered valuable information about Brazilian libraries and archives and their holdings by means of a questionnaire.
With renewed funding from the two foundations for the next two years, more preservation literature will be translated, intensive follow-up workshops will be held, expertise will be provided to institutions with specific needs, and a Web site will be created with information collected during the project?s first phase. There are plans to add full texts of the Portuguese translations to the Web site.
For more information about this project, please contact Ingrid Beck, Coordenadora de Conserv?ao de Documentos, Arquivo Nacionale, Rua Azeredo Coutinho 77 – sala 07 – Centro 20.230-170, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Phone: (55)21-232-9036. Fax: (55)21-232-8430. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Library of Venezuela Contributes Latin American Records to EROMM
More than 22,000 records of Latin American holdings in microform were contributed to the European Register of Microform Masters (EROMM) this summer, thanks to efforts of the National Library of Venezuela. The records represent microfilm holdings from several libraries in Venezuela, as well as from the National Libraries of Chile, Peru, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Brazil, and the Biblioteca Hisp?ica in Spain and the Universidad Interamericana Sim? Bolivar in Panama. The titles are primarily books (more than 15,000 titles) and serials (more than 5,000 titles). The title list also includes government publications and music manuscripts.
The contribution of these records is an important step in building a resource that scholars and preservation managers can consult from anywhere in the world to find out whether specific titles have been reformatted. Through its work, the National Library of Venezuela has become the main node in Latin America for collecting such information.
The records, now being loaded at the EROMM offices in Germany, will also eventually be available through the Research Libraries Information Network (RLIN) as part of the RLG-EROMM record-sharing agreement.
For more information on EROMM or the Latin American microfilm record contributions, contact Hans R?imann, CLIR International Program Officer, 312 West 77th St., New York, NY 10024. Fax: (1)212-721-5173. E-mail: email@example.com.
Note: The Web address for the European Register of
Cooperative Action by Victorian Academic Libraries
For 20 years, CAVAL Limited (Cooperative Action by Victorian Academic Libraries) has worked to share library resources more efficiently among the major academic and research libraries in the Australian state of Victoria. In July 1996, CAVAL opened the CARM (CAVAL Archive and Research Materials) Centre and established the first cooperative, last-copy library repository in Australia. The Centre is located on the La Trobe University campus in the Melbourne suburb of Bundoora.
The Centre has offices for CAVAL administrative and technical services, and a purpose-built climate-controlled storage facility, which will eventually house one million volumes of last copies of valuable but low-usage archival and research material. Seven universities and the State Library of Victoria contribute to the ?Consortium Collection? of material. Ownership of the material is ceded to CAVAL with guaranteed equal access for any library in Australia.
To assure that material will remain in the Centre, monographs are lent to libraries for use in the library only. Serials remain at the Centre, and articles are sent to libraries or library users via photocopies, facsimile, or digital transmission. With this guarantee that material is safely stored and available, members of the consortium can choose to remove duplicate copies from their collections. This frees up space in the libraries for newer material, additional seating, and the implementation of new technologies.
Since its opening in 1996, more than 200,000 items have been transferred into the Centre, from all but one of the consortium?s member libraries. By the end of 1998, close to 300,000 items will be available. Besides research and archival material in a range of academic subjects, the Centre houses the State Library of Victoria?s manuscript and patent collections and the VICLINK (Victorian Library Network) Fiction Collection, a collection of early-twentieth-century English fiction titles collected by the Victorian Public Libraries. It is a unique resource for those researching the stylistic development of twentieth-century fiction. These collections are major assets for studying the history and culture of Victoria, and CAVAL is happy that the storage conditions at the CARM Centre will help in their preservation.
For many years, CAVAL has operated a union catalog of the holdings of universities and the State Library in Victoria. This union catalog serves as the finding tool for material stored in the Centre. Access is also available through the national database, ABN (Australian Bibliographic Network).
Since the Centre is a closed-access storage facility, material is transferred to acid-free trays for storage on the shelves. All items are barcoded and tracked from item to tray to shelf. This system allows for immediate access to any item and maximizes the storage capacity. Broken runs of serials can be accepted and gaps filled later without any rearrangement of the shelves.
CAVAL has established a twenty-four-hour response time for requests for material. To date, all requests have been shipped from the Centre in that time. A courier service among the CAVAL members guarantees at least next-day delivery.
CAVAL is funded on an equal basis by a yearly service charge to the members and by self-funding services such as cataloging and training.
For more information, contact Richard Leadbetter, Acting Executive Director, CAVAL Ltd., 4 Park Drive, Bundoora Victoria 3083, Australia. Fax: (613)9459-2733. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
IFLA-PAC Regional Center for Eastern Europe and CIS: A First-Year Report
A year ago, the IFLA Core Programme on Preservation and Conservation (PAC) established a regional center for Eastern Europe and CIS at the Library for Foreign Literature in Moscow. IFLA established the center to serve the special needs of a region that includes many countries with similar economic backgrounds that influence both national and institutional policies in preservation.
The new center faces several challenges, according to its director. It must be effective in dealing with a diverse group of institutions with different economic potential. It must help libraries that face severe budgetary constraints. It must help bring into the preservation community institutions that have existed outside the preservation network. Finally, it must expand IFLA?s influence and expertise in the region.
The changed political climate has made it easier to establish direct contacts between professionals. It has encouraged openness and allows the free exchange of ideas. In this context, the new regional center began its work.
By 1997, both IFLA and the PAC Core Program had formulated Medium Term Programs for 1997-2000. The main goals of the PAC program were to raise awareness about preservation issues and to coordinate studies, research and standardization, education, and training. These basic goals also guide the current activities of the Moscow Regional Center, although it has modified the goals to meet specific regional needs. For example, the Center places more emphasis on education and training than on studies and research.
The Center pays special attention to distributing information that will help regional institutions achieve the Medium Term Program goals. However, language barriers are a significant problem, since many publications are written in English. Thus, the translation of materials relevant to preservation has become an important component of the Center?s work. In the past year, staff members have translated into Russian and distributed the following publications to institutions throughout the region:
- Guidelines for Newspaper Preservation Microfilming (IFLA Roundtable on Newspaper Publication, 1996);
- Disaster Planning, Preparedness, and Recovery for Libraries and Archives: A RAMP Study with Guidelines, by Sally A. Buchanan;
- Guidelines on Best Practices in Basic Collection Management for Non-Professional Staff and on the Organization of Courses: a RAMP Study, by D.W. Clements and D.L. Thomas;
- UNESCO Resolution on Permanent Paper; and
- ?National Preservation Programmes: Such Stuff as Dreams are Made of,? by Jan Lyall, published in IFLA Journal v. 24, n.1.
The Center distributes International Preservation News but does not translate it. It does, however, produce a flier in Russian with summaries and annotations of articles from International Preservation News and CLIR Issues. Several videos, such as If Disaster Strikes: Controlling Your Library Environment?Handling Printed Books, provided by the ECPA and British National Preservation Office, were also translated and used during a workshop on handling practices held in Riazan last April, and during training for Mongolian librarians in June.
The Moscow Regional Center has compiled a directory, Who?s Who in Russian Preservation, to inform Russian libraries and archives about people and institutions that can provide professional services and training. Lack of skilled preservationists hinders the implementation of preservation projects of different scales. The directory, which is mounted on the Internet, is intended to become a link between those who need information and those who can provide it.
To facilitate preservation projects, the RC has also compiled a list of firms (mostly Russian) that provide conservation supplies.
There have been various other projects aimed at raising awareness of the scope and complexity of preservation issues. Among those worth mentioning are a conference on permanent paper in October 1997; a roundtable on the preservation of newspapers in February 1998; an all-Russia contest on binding, in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, Russian State Library, State Public Historic Library, and the ?Raritet? School of Conservation; training for 37 interns from libraries, museums, and archives; and participation in formulating a National Preservation Program for Russia. At this stage, it is important to find accurate answers to questions coming to the Center from different parts of the region. Communication is now well established with the former USSR republics. Still, much has to be done to become a center for Eastern Europe?not just Russia, the Baltic states, and CIS.
For more information on the activities of the Moscow Regional Center, contact Galina Kislovskaya at the Library for Foreign Literature, Nikolo-Jamskaya Street, 1, Moscow 109189, Russia. Fax: (7)95-915-3637. E-mail: email@example.com.
Contributed by Galina Kislovskaya
NEDCC?s Preservation Manual Translated into Russian
The Northeast Document Conservation Center?s book Preservation of Library and Archival Materials: A Manual has been translated into Russian and published by the Guild of Restorers of St. Petersburg, Russia. Dr. Natalja Kopaneva, President of the Guild of Restorers, served as the project director. Dr. Juliana Nyuksha, a distinguished Russian conservator, served as the technical editor. The translation was supported by a grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.
The manual provides basic, practical information needed to enable non-conservator staff of archives and libraries to plan and implement sound collection-care programs or to incorporate preservation principles into existing programs. Topics include preservation planning and prioritizing, the environment, emergency management, storage and handling, reformatting, and conservation procedures.
Copies of Preservation of Library and Archival Materials: A Manual in Russian can be obtained through the Guild by contacting Dr. Kopaneva at the National Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, Russia. Fax: (7)812-183-2517. o
IFLA Principles for the Care and Handling of Library Material, compiled by Edward P. Adcock with Marie-ThG?e Varlamoff and Virginie Kremp. Copublished by IFLA and the Council on Library and Information Resources. An introduction to the care and handling of library materials for individuals and institutions with little or no preservation knowledge. The Principles are currently available only in English. PAC regional centers will distribute the publication to IFLA members. Non-IFLA members may request a copy from the International Centre at the Biblioth?ue nationale de France, IFLA PAC, 2, rue Vivienne, 75084 Paris cedex 02 France. Fax: (33)1-47-03-7725.
Safeguarding the Documentary Heritage: A Guide to Standards, Recommended Practices and Reference Literature Related to the Preservation of Documents of All Kinds, edited by George Boston. Published for the Memory of the World Programme by the General Information Programme and UNISIST, UNESCO. This guide gives an overview of the recommendations and measures for safeguarding the documentary heritage and points to standards, recommended practices, and reference literature on the preservation of documents. It covers the various information and data carriers in terms of their physical nature?occasionally bridging the boundaries of different traditional groupings of documents. One chapter deals with the strategic aspects of capturing and safeguarding electronic documents and publications. Their physical preservation problems are dealt with in the chapters for magnetic and optical media. The guide will be updated periodically to keep pace with technological developments, especially in the field of audiovisual and electronic documents. The publication is available, free of charge, in English or French. To request a copy, contact Abdelaziz Abid, Information and Informatics Division, UNESCO, 7, place de Fontenoy, 75352 Paris 07 SP, France. Fax: (33)145-67-16-90. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Digitization of Rare Library Materials: Storage of and Access to Data: The Solution for the Compound Document, Manuscripts, and Old Printed Books. CD-ROM, published by the National Library of the Czech Republic and Albertina icome Praha Ltd. The Czech Republic?s Ministry of Culture has financed a project to develop a plan for access to and archival storage of digitized rare documents. The CD-ROM contains key results of this project, undertaken by specialists from the National Library of the Czech Republic and the Albertina icome Praha, Ltd. The CD-ROM describes the structures needed for storage of digital documents?created from images, sound, or motion pictures?over the long term. It also provides the interested user with several software tools for the creation of the structure and for work with multimedia documents and those containing digital content and descriptive metadata. It includes full versions of documents that form a framework for an SGML-based data container and many examples of how SGML can be used to create digital copies of manuscripts and old printed books. Finally, it includes a demo version of the ManuFreT access software and discussion of why, for whom, and especially how to digitize. The disk, released in February, will be updated later this year. For more information on the CD-ROM and how to order, contact Adolf Knoll, Deputy Director, National Library of the Czech Republic, Klementinum 190, 110 01 Prague, Czech Republic. Fax: (420)2-2422- 7796. E-mail: email@example.com. Information is also available on the Web at http://digit.nkp.cz.
RESEARCH NOTE: A New Accelerated Aging Test for Paper
Researchers at the US Library of Congress are developing a new accelerated aging test for paper that they claim will more accurately predict the rate of paper degradation in bound books. The test shows that acidic paper in books may deteriorate more rapidly than was assumed based on the conventional aging tests.
Accelerated aging tests attempt to duplicate degradation processes that otherwise occur spontaneously in nature, but in a much faster period. Many decisions about the selection of paper for its permanence, and for the long-term preservation of books, manuscripts, and works of art on paper, are based on the results of accelerated aging tests for paper.
The researchers attempted to separate and identify products of degradation obtained from samples aged artificially and compare them with such products obtained from similar papers aged naturally. They compared three experimental configurations: (1) loose sheets of paper, as in conventional accelerated aging tests, (2) stacks of paper to simulate books, and (3) paper strips within capped glass tubes. The last configuration was designed to trap and retain degradation products, as they believe happens in real life with books.
Degradation product analysis shows that the capped-glass-tube configuration compares best with natural aging. This configuration also provides the fastest rate of aging and can be implemented in a dry oven. The alternative configurations and other presently accepted accelerated aging tests all must be carried out inside expensive aging chambers with controlled relative humidity and temperature conditions. The faster rate of aging has reduced the time required for a complete test from 30 days to less than a week. Exact conditions for the test will not be completed until June 1999, when it will be submitted to the Institute for Standards Research of ASTM, which has provided partial support for this work.
This particular accelerated aging test addresses only reactions that occur on aging in the dark. Any chemical effects that might result from exposure to light or from interaction with pollutants are not addressed by the test discussed here.
For more information on these research findings, contact Chandru Shahani, Preservation Directorate, Madison Building, LM-G21, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, USA 20540-4500. Fax: (1)202-707-3434. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Council on Library and Information Resources|
1755 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W. Suite 500
The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) grew out of the 1997 merger of the Commission on Preservation and Access and the Council on Library Resources. CLIR identifies the critical issues that affect the welfare and prospects of libraries and archives and the constituencies they serve, convenes individuals and organizations in the best position to engage these issues and respond to them, and encourages institutions to work collaboratively to achieve and manage change. CLIR maintains four current programs: the Commission on Preservation and Access, Digital Libraries, the Economics of Information, and Leadership.
CLIR?s International Program falls within the Commission on Preservation and Access. The program seeks to build awareness internationally about preservation issues and to support colleagues abroad in their work to meet preservation goals.
Correspondence about this publication should be sent to Kathlin Smith, Editor, at email@example.com, or to the address shown above.
This newsletter is not copyrighted.