Preservation & Access International Newsletter No. 9

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Number 9
March 2000

Contents

We Want to Hear from You

Issues in the Management of Digital Resources: An Archivist’s Perspective

EAD to be Translated into Spanish

News from the ECPA

Report Examines Collections, Content, and the Web

CLIR Expands International Agenda

Print and Online Resources

Forthcoming from CLIR

We Want to Hear from You

With this issue, Preservation and Access International Newsletter begins its third year of publication. Launched in March 1998 to report on preservation and access initiatives worldwide, the newsletter was intended to facilitate the direct exchange of ideas and information among interested individuals.

Certain assumptions have guided the selection and presentation of content. For example, we have assumed that the Web is available to many of our readers, but that some do not have reliable Web access. We have also assumed that, while professionals everywhere are concerned about issues in the management of digital information, there remains great interest in issues related to the preservation of analog information and artifacts.

We believe it is time not only to test these assumptions but also to ask broader questions about what our readers have found-or would find-most useful in coming months. We ask for your help in this effort. Please take a few minutes to respond to the questionnaire. We would appreciate having your response by April 7, 2000. Your comments and suggestions will help us bring you more of what you find most useful. Many thanks.

Kathlin Smith, Editor

Issues in the Management of Digital Resources: An Archivist’s Perspective

Digital technology is erasing many of the distinctions between custodians of information and custodians of artifacts. Museum curators, librarians, archivists, and information technology specialists face many common concerns in the digital environment. According to Anne Gilliland-Swetland, assistant professor in UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, this broad base of professionals can be viewed as a new “metacommunity.” Members of this metacommunity face an unprecedented opportunity to address common problems by bringing together the distinct perspectives of its members to develop a new paradigm for the creation, management, and dissemination of digital information.

In her recent report, Enduring Paradigm, New Opportunities: The Value of the Archival Perspective in the Digital Environment, Dr. Gilliland-Swetland discusses the lessons that the archival profession carries for the growing community of professionals responsible for designing, managing, disseminating, and preserving digital information resources.

For years, archivists have grappled with many of the issues that are now gaining broad attention. The author notes, for example, that since the 1960s, the archival community has worked closely with creators of records and record-keeping systems to develop means to identify and preserve digital records that have no paper counterpart. Emerging dialog about how to define and ensure authenticity in digital objects can also benefit from the archivist’s perspective. Archival institutions serve an important legal function in society, and concern for retaining the evidential value of records has placed the archival community at the forefront of research and development in digital authentication.

There are other aspects of the archival profession that bring valuable perspective to the creation, management, and dissemination of digital information. Because archives focus on records, archivists are keenly aware of how societal, institutional, and individual memory is constructed, and the implications of how that memory is represented and transmitted over time. This is especially important as more of the world’s collections are reformatted and represented online, where information is subject not only to corruption or outright loss, but also to loss of context. The archival community has been active in exploiting the roles of context and hierarchy in information retrieval.

Whereas libraries primarily manage existing information-traditionally in published form, but this is changing-archives are also intimately engaged in forming the historical record and its ultimate disposition.

The author reviews several recent and ongoing projects in which the archival community has provided leadership in setting the agenda or integrating the archival perspective. We hope that this report will encourage similar examination of the perspectives and requirements for digital information and information systems of other communities of information professionals. Understanding points of commonality and divergence will be the first step in developing more effective technological, procedural, policy, and educational approaches to common problems.

EAD to be Translated into Spanish

CLIR has awarded funds to the University of California at Berkeley for the translation of encoded archival description (EAD) standards into Spanish. An emerging archival descriptive standard in the United States, EAD is also being considered for use by archivists abroad. UC-Berkeley will work with the Fundacion Historica Tavera, in Madrid, to undertake the project. The Foundation will oversee the translation and is also contributing resources to the project.

The texts to be translated include the Encoded Archival Descripton Tag Library, Version 1.0, and Encoded Archival Description Application Guidelines, Version 1.0, both published by the Society of American Archivists; and The Encoded Archival Description Retrospective Conversion Guidelines: A Supplement to the EAD Tag Library and EAD Guidelines, published by UC-Berkeley. Translations are expected to be finished by fall 2000.

News from the ECPA

European Union Awards Grant to Photo Project ‘SEPIA’

Safeguarding European Photographic Images for Access (SEPIA) is a one year project funded by the European Union under the Framework Programme in Support of Culture. The project deals with historic photographic collections that are an essential part of the European cultural heritage. The project’s aim is to (1) promote awareness of the need to preserve photographic collections, (2) provide training for professionals involved in the preservation and digitization of photographic collections, and (3) develop an overall framework for future projects to preserve and provide access to photographic materials.

The European Commission on Preservation and Access (ECPA) will coordinate the SEPIA project. Its partners are: Centre de Recherches sur la Conservation des Documents Graphiques (CRCDG) (Paris); National Photographic ConservationStudios (Rotterdam); Public Record Office (United Kingdom); Stockholm City Museum; British Library; The Finnish Museum of Photography (Helsinki), and Royal Library of Denmark (Copenhagen).

The SEPIA project will include expert meetings and workshops this coming spring. The project will publish a survey report on the status of preservation and digitization of photographic collections in Europe and will prepare an introductory text on the preservation of photographic collections. A conference on the management of photographic collections will conclude the activities.

The second expert meeting of the SEPIA project took place in Paris on January 25-26, 2000, and focused on requirements for digitizing historical photographic collections. At the meeting, 10 conclusions and recommendations were formulated that should guide further work in this area:

  1. Photographs are an essential part of our cultural heritage. They are to be treasured for what they tell us about our past, for their documentary and artistic value, and as a record of the history of photographic processes.
  2. Digitization of photographic collections should be encouraged to facilitate access for a large audience. Digitizing photographs is all the more urgent because some common types of photographs are quickly deteriorating. Damage caused by handling of fragile originals can be limited by the use of digital copies.
  3. Digitization is a tool, not an end in itself. Selection of photographic materials for digitization should be based on a thorough understanding of the nature and use of the collection and well-researched prognoses of its use.
  4. A digital project starts well before the scanning of the first picture. Investments made in careful planning to define the aims, priorities, technical requirements and procedures will pay off in an efficient workflow and a result that meets expectations.
  5. The digitization of photographic collections fundamentally differs from the digitization of text or line art. The creation of a digital image requires photographic expertise with ethical judgment. Even with the best equipment, capturing the essence of photographs in a digital format is a sophisticated activity and can never be a routine job like the production of photocopies.
  6. Digital images of photographs constitute active collections that require regular maintenance. Provisions to upgrade digital collections to keep pace with the changing computer infrastructure should be made at the start of a project. This is necessary to keep digital collections that are created at considerable cost from becoming inaccessible over time.
  7. Digitization of photographs should not be the sole responsibility of one department. A good digitization project is conceived as teamwork, combining expertise on imaging, collection management, information technology, conservation, descriptive methods, and preservation strategies.
  8. In every project for digitization of photographs, the input of specialists in photographic preservation is essential. Their advice is required for the best selection of materials. They should be consulted on how to integrate preservation measures in the workflow, on how to handle fragile materials, and on the equipment used to avoid damage to the originals.
  9. Preservation specialists should be trained to advise on strategies for the management of digital assets that are in line with the overall preservation policy of the institution.
  10. Museums, archives, and libraries have a strong interest in the development of international standards on which a strategy for the preservation of digital collections has to be built. Their active involvement is essential to ensure that the longterm view of heritage institutions is represented in groups working on standards.

More information about SEPIA is available from www.knaw.nl/ecpa/sepia. Or contact ECPA, P.O. Box 19121, 1000 GC Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Fax: +3120620 49 41. Email: ecpa@bureau.knaw.nl.

Report Examines Collections, Content, and the Web

A recent report from CLIR explores how the World Wide Web is affecting collections-based institutions. Collections, Content, and the Web is based on a conference organized by CLIR and the Chicago Historical Society in October 1999, with financial support from the Institute for Museum and Library Services.

Although libraries and museums share few professional organizations or other structures that regularly bring them together for substantive purposes, they share a fundamental purpose: to collect physical things to make recorded knowledge and aesthetic experience accessible to their patrons. But when art and research objects go from real to virtual, how does the relationship between an object and its viewer or user change? Who uses museum and library Web sites, and what do they seek?

These questions drew leaders of museums and libraries to a conference designed to focus on issues of collections, audience, and technology. Four papers, distributed before and presented during the conference, addressed these topics and served as a basis for discussion and recommendations. The report includes the papers and summaries of the discussions they provoked. It also summarizes a survey of institutional Web sites that was conducted to gather preliminary data about museum and library Web site design and use.

Libraries and museums come to the Web with very different experiences of information technology. Libraries have long used automation for managing the description, cataloging, and inventory control of collections. On the other hand, museums in the last several decades have made great strides in making their collections more accessible to a large public and have developed intellectual, aesthetic, and educational portals for onsite visitors to their institutions.

The differences that became apparent between the operating assumptions of library and museum leaders were in some cases quite predictable. Perspectives on intellectual property, for example, diverged because of the traditional functions that libraries have served in the administration of fair use in the print world and the particular interest that museums have had in protecting the rights of artists whom they display. Museums dealt forthrightly with issues of selection and presentation because they have a mandate to interpret. Librarians sometimes approached the matter of selection as if it were synonymous with censorship, because they traditionally place a high value on making information accessible without mediation. But in some cases the differences between types of museums (art or historical) and types of libraries (academic or public) were even more striking. In summarizing the discussions, the report aims to represent distinctly these four points of view-public and academic libraries, art and historical museums-to highlight the often-surprising intersections of values and concerns and the equally unexpected divergences of interest or experience.

The report concludes that the fundamental challenge now is to determine what steps will ensure that the Web can be greater than the sum of its parts, that is, that the museum and library presence on the Web amounts to more than a cluster of individual Web sites. No one believes that the Web will replace libraries and museums, but many can see a time when the Web blurs and eventually erodes, in the user’s mind, the current distinctions between libraries and museums. We are rapidly moving into an environment in which preconceptions formed by traditional institutional associations and proprietary control are being challenged and dissolved.

CLIR Expands International Agenda

In recent years, while maintaining an explicit focus on preservation awareness, CLIR’s international projects have also been linked implicitly with the other core themes of CLIR’s new agenda: digital libraries, resources for scholarship, economics of information, and leadership. In the future, a broader range of CLIR initiatives will be designed with an explicit international component.

Through its work abroad, CLIR has been fortunate to team with a growing network of individuals and institutions who are making important contributions in their countries and internationally. Preservation outreach activities have been carried out in many parts of the world over the last decade. New projects have recently begun in Greece and South Africa, and CLIR is exploring ways to build on previous efforts and seek new areas for collaboration. Staff members are discussing a range of issues with colleagues abroad to review where our concerns intersect.

Preservation and Access International Newsletter will provide readers with regular updates on new CLIR initiatives as well as continuing reports on initiatives elsewhere. Readers with Web access can learn of new CLIR projects at our updated Web site, at www.clir.org. We invite readers and visitors to the Web site to send us news of international developments such as conferences, workshops, and projects in preservation and digitization.

Print and Online Resources

NEDCC’s Preservation Manual Available Online in Russian

A Russian-language translation of Preservation of Library & Archival Materials: A Manual, first edition, is now available on the Web site of The Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) at www.nedcc.org.

The print copy of the translation was created by the Guild of Restorers of St. Petersburg, Russia. Dr. Natalja Kopaneva, president of the Guild of Restorers, served as the project director, while Dr. Juliana Nyuksha, a distinguished Russian conservator, served as the technical editor. Translation of the manual into Russian was supported by a grant to NEDCC from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.

The purpose of the manual is to provide the basic, practical information needed to enable non-conservator staff of libraries, archives, and museums to plan and implement sound collections care programs. It is intended for those who must make decisions that affect the preservation of collections, or who want to upgrade standards of care to better preserve materials.

The Russian-language edition is the second non-English version available online. A Spanish-language version (second edition), prepared by the National Library of Venezuela with support from CLIR and funds from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is also on the NEDCC Web site. A translation of selected chapters is also under way, under the direction of Maria Skepastianou, of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki and the Ionian University, and will be available online by early next year.
Meanwhile, the third edition of the manual, which has been available in English on NEDCC’s Web site since March 1999, has just become available in print.

IFLA Principles in Translation

The IFLA Principles for the Care and Handling of Library Material, compiled and edited by Edward Adcock, with the assistance of Marie-Thérèse Varlamoff and Virginie Kremp, have been translated into Polish by Boleslaw Rek. The Polish version is published by the Wroclaw University Library. A copy can be obtained from Mr. Rek at Uniwersytet Wroclawski, Biblioteke Uniwersyteka, ul. Karola Szaujnochy 10, PL-50-076 Wroclaw, Poland. E-mail: rek@bu.uni.wroc.pl. The Polish version joins a Russian version, translated by E. A. Azarova and published by the Library for Foreign Literature in Moscow with support from CLIR and funds from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Translations into French, Japanese, and Slovenian are almost complete. There are also translations under way into Malaysian, Arabic, Spanish, Turkish, and Portuguese.

Inventory of Canadian Digital Initiatives

The National Library of Canada has created an Inventory of Canadian Digital Initiatives, an automated Web-accessible database designed to store descriptions of Canadian digital information resources created for the Web, including general digital collections, resources centered around a particular theme, reference sources, and databases. The inventory was developed by the National Library and launched in June 1999. Its aim is to make information about Canadian digital projects centrally available to help avoid duplication and to foster resource sharing. The inventory can be accessed from www.nlc-bnc.ca/initiatives/index.html. For more information, contact Ralph Manning. Phone: +1-613-943-8570; e-mail: ralph.manning@nlc-bnc.ca.

New Manual helps Archival Agencies Bridge Technology Gap

The State Records Authority of NSW and the National Archives of Australia have developed a draft manual to help archival agencies design and implement recordkeeping systems for any technological or paper-based environment. The manual, entitled Designing and Implementing Recordkeeping Systems (DIRKS), is designed specifically for use online and can be navigated for easy reference.
The draft manual will be on the Web sites of the National Archives and State Records Authority until December 2000 for input and comments by potential users and interested parties. The Web site address for the National Archives of Australia is www.naa.gov.au/Govserv/techpub/DIRKSman/dirks.html. The Web address of the State Records of NSW is www.records.nsw.gov.au/publicsector/DIRKS/Exposure%20draft/title.htm. For more information, contact Tony Newton at State Records of NSW +2 9237-0135 or govkrman@records.nsw.gov.au, or Adrian Cunningham at the National Archives of Australia, +2 6212-399988 or mailto:adrianc@naa.gov.au.

Forthcoming from CLIR:
The Meaning of Authenticity in the Digital Environment. Experts in different domains of knowledge, including libraries, archives, computer science, and documentary editing, consider how to define the authenticity of digital objects. The report, based on a workshop hosted by CLIR in January 2000, will include participants’ papers and a summary of workshop discussions.

Guides to Quality in Visual Resource Imaging. Five guides will address how to set up an imaging project, select a scanner, create a scanning system, produce a digital master, and generate digital derivatives. The guides are being produced in collaboration with the Research Libraries Group (RLG) and will appear in electronic form only, on the Web sites of CLIR and RLG, by summer 2000.

Council on Library and Information Resources
1755 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W. Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036
(202)-939-4750
Fax: (202)-939-4765 · E-mail: info@clir.orgThe 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.Preservation and Access International Newsletter seeks to inform readers about preservation and access initatives worldwide and to provide a basis for the direct exchange of ideas and information.Correspondence about this publication should be sent to Kathlin Smith, editor, or to the address shown above.

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Its duplication is encouraged.