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Preservation Education Institute Final Report

Commission on Preservation and Access


The Commission on Preservation and Access

Preservation Education Institute
Final Report

August 2-4, 1990
School of Library and Information Science
The Catholic University of America
Prepared by
Deanna B. Marcum, Dean
Chair, Task Force on Preservation Education

Commission Preface

Based upon recommendations of an October 1988 meeting of library administrators, preservation specialists, educators, and foundation representatives, the Commission established a Task Force on Preservation Education in late 1989. The group is exploring in some detail the current status of preservation education, the projected requirements for the next decade, and the ways in which existing programs can be strengthened and expanded to meet the new challenges.

One of the task force’s first activities was the development of a Preservation Institute for Library Educators to bring together leaders in preservation administration, library educators, and university library directors. The institute was seen as a first step toward introducing library educators to the progress being made in preservation and in integrating preservation into library schools.

In October, 1989, the Commission on Preservation and Access awarded a contract to The Catholic University of America’s School of Library and Information Science to design and conduct a preseRvation education institute. Library, administrators, educators, archivists, network staff, and preseRvation specialists were invited to the institute at the Wye Plantation, Queenstown, Maryland to discuss the many aspects of preseRvation and to explore the possibilities of placing preservation in a more central position in library school curricula.

Defining Preservation

In order to provide a context for the institute, the first presentation was concerned with a definition of preseRvation. Nine elements were included in the definition:

  1. Environmental control (heat, humidity, light, pests)
  2. Building design – architectural means of controlling environment, systems control
  3. Holdings maintenance – stacks management
  4. Materials handling
  5. Provision of surrogates when originals are unavailable
  6. Item treatment
  7. Disaster preparedness and recovery preparedness
  8. Public relations
  9. Improvement of materials coming into the library

The goal is to keep the collection available. The component parts of preservation can be grouped into three broad areas: (1) techniques to be used for individual items or whole collections, (2) institutional policy, and (3) education of professionals and library users.

Preservation is often defined by how it is practiced. Yet, in the teaching situation, the teacher focuses on handling and early repair, specifically, how to keep hard copy on the shelves for circulation. The academic library concentrates on circulation and long-term maintenance and having materials ready for patrons seeking them. Archives, on the other hand, emphasize long-term preseRvation and have not been concerned with cooperative programs for access.

The concept of preservation has changed. Preservation, using the broad definition, is the oldest and most fundamental function of libraries and archives. Two decades ago, preservation as we know it emerged, and included the selection of specific items for preservation. The goal became preservation of the object or its surrogate. A new difficulty for librarians emerged with modern non-print media, which has a lifespan shorter than one human career. Unlike the print collection that passes from one custodian to another, the electronic media require extraordinary preservation measures. Despite the concerns about new media, most of the professional activities have been aimed at the main book collections, either in original or surrogate form.

Preservation must become a state of mind, a way of treating collections so they will survive to serve their intended purposes. Our greatest challenge, in practical terms, is to define preservation in clear and commonly agreed upon language. Since public libraries and historical societies also house research materials, it is inadequate to define preservation in terms of research libraries.

In attempting to define preservation, institute participants wanted to discuss many different issues, and added the following to the list of concerns:

  1. Materials in other formats have preservation needs not being addressed currently.
  2. Administrative decision-making may be the most important element for the library science student to learn.
  3. Cost of acquiring materials as well as preserving them should be emphasized.
  4. Large universities have special problems since their collections are used so heavily.
  5. Since library schools are strongly influenced by the Committee on Accreditation standards, an effort should be made to incorporate preservation into those standards.
  6. Maintenance of collections should be an integral part of preservation.
  7. Much preservation work involves contacts with vendors. Library science students should be aware of writing and enforcing contracts.

Addressing Preservation Issues

In the second segment of the institute, the group heard from the Commission on Preservation and Access. The Commission is interested in education because it understands that the broad-gauged approach to solving the preservation problem will require a new kind of library education.

With increased funding for preservation there is significantly more preservation activity in libraries. Preservation is being transformed from a cottage industry to a broad- based assault, and we must find new strategies to deal with preservation as a technical problem with a managerial solution.

Preservation solutions that have been identified recently are daunting. What kind of education will future librarians need to deal with the problem? Since contracting with vendors will be a big part of preservation work, education that includes contracting skills and analysis of work flow will be required. Future librarians will need to look at preservation as an industrial process and be able to manage that process. The objective of the Commission is to identify the obstacles in the way of managerial effectiveness in dealing with the problem of preservation and removing those obstacles so that preservation as a process can be institutionalized.

The Commission is interested in finding a new conceptual approach to educating librarians in a world of priceless, brittle books, not all of which can be saved. We are facing the slow fires of brittle books and the fast fires of electronic media. Stewardship of the accumulated human record as far into the future as possible is the goal. Preservation decisions must be made in terms of the collective knowledge base.

In considering what should be done about library education, we need to recognize the primacy of managerial responsibility and to distinguish between short- and long-term needs of the preservation problem. We do not necessarily need library school graduates for all jobs. We cannot have new graduates from preservation programs taking on the big managerial jobs. We must find people for the interim, while trying to find ways to educate for the future.

Approaching preservation in this way calls for a complete rethinking of library education. Instead of having a number of courses on one or another technique or function, why not develop courses with stewardship as the core of the curriculum? This challenges everything we have thought about library education, but preservation is insuring access to information. Perhaps it will help to look at education through the lens of preservation, rather than fitting preservation into the existing boxes.

After hearing the presentation from the Commission, the group added the following comments:

  1. Library school faculties, in general, have not reached agreement on what constitutes the core of the curriculum.
  2. Access to the collection should be the core of the curriculum because service to the user is the librarian’s main responsibility.
  3. Unless the library has resources, access to those resources holds little meaning.
  4. Preservation presents some of the same challenges library automation presented a generation earlier. We need not prepare students to become preservation administrators; rather, they need to understand preservation from an administrative perspective.
  5. We need to build alliances with other fields that have a concern about information transfer and stewardship. As an example, the institute participants mentioned the need for the library school faculty to link with other faculty concerned with preservation issues, perhaps through a university-based research center for preservation.
  6. Learning how to do research should be included in the curriculum since research is much needed to solve libraries’ problems.

Educating for Preservation

The Preservation Education Task Force was charged with exploring the state of preservation education, with projecting the need for future decades, and with finding ways to expand and strengthen the library school curriculum. Questions identified by the Task Force as being important for the institute agenda included:

  1. What is the need for preservation administrators?
  2. What is the need for continuing education in preservation?
  3. What kind of preservation education should all library science students have?
  4. What kind of preservation administration programs should there be? Where?
  5. What kind of training should library/archives conservators receive?
  6. What find of funding is needed for preservation administration?
  7. Are additional internships needed?
  8. What is the place for state/regional programs in preservation administration?
  9. What role should library schools play in such programs?
  10. What is the market for preservation administrators and conservators?

Identifying Personnel Needs

Looking at preservation needs broadly, some 500 to 700 large libraries are likely to have a conservation/preservation unit. Several thousand smaller libraries should have at least some capability of dealing with preservation, and many other library staff, professional and para-professional, need to be aware of preservation. Library schools will need to have a preservation component in the curriculum, but it may vary depending upon the emphasis.

Library schools were encouraged to think of imaginative continuing education courses, short-courses, and work-study opportunities in addition to infiltrating already established courses. Management and administrative skills must be emphasized by library schools. In working on preservation problems, librarians must be equipped with fiscal and analytical skills: how to analyze and project costs, how to establish and control costs, and how to work with physical plant. Students need to know how to write a contract, and how to adjust and monitor performance.

Personnel skills were singled out as being especially important for inclusion in the library school curriculum. Students must have excellent interpersonal skills, and they need to know about management in a union setting.

Also necessary are preservation administration skills: security, disaster planning, monitoring binding contracts, knowledge of sources for restoration treatment, and an ability to understand bibliographic control and why it is important for preservation.

Finally, library schools should give their graduates a sense of professional mission and an ability to adapt and develop as the field changes.

The institute participants discussed the job market for preservation specialists at length, but with little agreement about the long-term prospects. Institute participants realized that the profession must reach consensus on approaches to preservation education so that funding agencies will have a model against which to assess grant proposals for educational programs. The definition of a preservation specialist has changed significantly over time, and may be responsible for our failure to agree on the job prospects for such specialists. The 1970s marked the beginning of research universities’ concern about brittle books. In the 1980s, librarians began to organize to support preservation activities, and various preservation services were consolidated into a single department. Over time, preservation librarians realized that managerial skill was more important than technique. The manager serves to keep preservation activities a priority of the organization and to assure that preservation is a part of every library job.

Preservation specialists project the need for preservation administrators to be in the range of 35 to 50 new positions over the next five years. The variation between the specialist’s prediction and the library director’s prediction stimulated lengthy and lively discussion. The analogy to introducing automation into academic libraries was revisited, and everyone agreed that automation was accomplished largely by trial and error. All agreed that it would be preferable to plan for the preservation function.

Preservation may be an anomaly in the library community. The market looks like a funnel with more executive preservation jobs on top than preservation entry level jobs on the bottom. We are creating a bottleneck by saying that students should go into preservation jobs. The larger, more complex jobs require experience. The library schools, noting there is no real market for entry level preservation jobs, will be disinclined to offer preservation education for their students. Perhaps, the focus should be on introducing students to preservation, but looking to intensive training programs for librarians who already have experience.

Institute participants noted the need to separate training from education so that we can design appropriate programs for both types of needs. They pointed to the need to design mid-career programs for people who will take on new responsibilities for preservation.

Developing a Strategy

Small groups sought to develop recommendations for addressing the many questions that surfaced during the institute. The first group emphasized the need for preservation education, but noted there are two groups of preservation administrators, those who are full-time and those who are part-time. Referring to the controversy about the projected market, the group recommended that the Task Force consult with others who are at work in gathering information about preservation needs regionally. Continuing education was viewed as a training activity, rather than education, and the various constituencies for continuing education were identified as educators, library “retreads” who will assume preservation responsibilities, and librarians and others for whom knowledge of preservation will be important.

In response to the question about what kind of preservation education should all students have, the group believed there should be a minimum of three clock hours included in the core curriculum. Attention to preservation should be included in the following courses: administration, collection development, public services, foundations, special collections, archives, and cataloging or technical services. Group one also supported external funding to be made available as seed money to encourage educational offerings. It was suggested that influential and visible members of faculties as a group should receive exposure to preservation issues. Institute participants noted the need to provide preservation educational opportunities for all faculty who may be required to include preservation in their courses but may not have the requisite knowledge.

The second group recommended a two-pronged approach to training preservation educators: immediate need and long-term. In response to immediate need, the Berkeley model of bringing practitioners to the campus for a few weeks at a time was considered ideal. For the long-term needs, the Columbia model is more appropriate.

When selecting program sites, the following requirements should be considered: (1) library with a lab and a sophisticated preservation program, (2) ambience of an institution that has embraced preservation education, (3) broad collection for work by both librarians and archivists, (4) a consortium of institutions in one area, (5) location close to a major airport, (6) curriculum appealing to both librarians and archivists, and (7) an emphasis on management skills.

Group two thought the Task Force should include recommendations on strategies for preservation education, and library schools should be encouraged to develop proposals based on the strategies. Generally speaking, the group believed that conservators should be trained through apprenticeships and collection care should be taught in the library schools, but the preservation specialists in the group disagreed.

The group also believed that faculty to support preservation education must be educated. To this end, financial support for Ph. D. candidates is important. Other participants added that geographic dispersal of Ph. D. programs is also important to consider. A lively discussion of funding prospects and educational strategies followed. Institute participants concluded that we must distinguish between preservation education and preservation training, design strategies for both purposes, and decide how each will be offered in what forms to whom. This should be the focus of the Preservation Education Task Force’s work.

The third group commented on the merits of internships. While such an approach has worked very well for training conservators, it seems unlikely that it will be sufficient for training the large numbers of people needed to do preservation work in the future. The groups also encouraged close affiliation between regional networks and library schools in providing continuing education for practitioners and para-professionals.

After thorough discussion of the group reports, the institute participants turned to the identification of things that should be done right away. These include:

  1. A strong statement supporting preservation should be included in the COA standards. A letter to that effect should go immediately from the Commission of Preservation and Access to the committee now considering revisions. In addition, influential people should be encouraged to press the cause.
  2. The Dean’s Council of ALISE should be informed of this meeting, and the cause of preservation education encouraged in that forum.
  3. An action plan for preservation education should be developed by the Preservation Education Task Force and should be widely disseminated in the professional community.

The recommendations/resolutions agreed upon the the institute participants are listed below:



a. Audiences for preservation education

1. The Task Force should identify the groups for whom preservation education should be presented. Members of the Institute identified particularly:

a. teachers of preservation courses,

b. preservation administrators,

c. Library and archives professionals who wish to extend their knowledge of preservation so as to become eligible for jobs in preservation administration,

d. those who wish to extend their knowledge so as to be better stewards of the materials under their care.

b. Academic offerings

1. Preservation education should appear in three ways in the curricula of schools of library and information science:

a. Introduced in the core curriculum in a unit no briefer than three contact hours;

b. Treated as a substantial and recognizable segment of pertinent courses dealing with library and archival functions and settings. Representative courses include, but are not restricted to: administration, technical services, archives, reference, foundations, and special libraries.

c. Presented in a stand-alone course.

2. The three ways of appearance above are listed in priority order. The recommendation is that schools should achieve the first way at the earliest possible moment. The stand-alone course is an ultimate goal, but more important in the near term is having segments appear in pertinent functions and settings courses.

1. The Task Force should suggest formats for continuing education, including but not restricted to, the Berkeley and SOLINET models.

2. The Task Force should suggest model curricula particularly for continuing education programs designed for would-be teachers of preservation courses and for practicing library and archives professionals who, over the next few years before preservation is established as an integral part of the academic curriculum, seek the knowledge necessary to enable them to become preservation administrators.

3. Because continuing education plays for academia a catalytic and consciousness-raising role with persons outside of higher education, continuing education courses in preservation should be of more than average importance in sustaining library schools in general.

c. Because credentials are important to demonstrating preparation for work in a field, the Task Force should consider proposing the number and nature of courses and the levels of achievement appropriate for recognition by the awarding of a certificate(s).

d. The model academic curricula should encourage schools of library and information science to develop linkages with other departments and areas of academia on the issue of access to and stewardship of information in the coming century.


a. Teachers

1. The faculty for preservation is changing from practitioners (who lack the time, above their full-time jobs, to meet the demand for classroom instruction) to professional teachers who have no personal experience in preservation or conservation work. The Task Force must take steps to ensure that opportunities are available through which the emerging teachers of preservation can make up their deficiencies at least minimally. Such opportunities should be presented by the principal educators and practitioners in the field. Especially important is contact between the new preservation educators and the practitioners with experience in both preservation administration and conservation.

b. Deans

1. Persons responsible for recommendations concerning the academic curriculum should be brought together in a funded meeting at a place similar to Wye Plantation to learn the nature, the extent, and importance of preservation so as to encourage their faculties to implement recommendation #l.b above.


a. Brittle books have a finite life. As short as it is, however, it is longer than that of the newer magnetic media. A sense of urgency about work in the preservation field must be conveyed to schools so that the battle to maintain material in a condition that provides ready access is joined as quickly and fully as possible.


4. As part of its work on curricula, the Task Force must stimulate and encourage those active in the preservation field to move toward consensus on defining the scope, parameters, and essentials of the field of “preservation” of library and archival material. Essential is the work of defining away the mystique of preservation so that all archival and library professionals can see that preservation is a mind-set, as well as actions, and is imbedded in some way in every library and archival job.


5. Recognition should be made of the important contribution already achieved by the Columbia program in preservation administration and conservation, and of the necessity of sustaining both that program in another location and academic programs comparable to

6. To establish the number and quality of courses and programs necessary to make major headway on the preservation front, and to develop that research base fundamental to any field, external funding will continue to be essential for the time being.

The work of the Task Force was meant to be done over a two-year period. Discussion at the institute suggested that the time-frame was too long and that the pace of work must be accelerated.

School of Library and Information Science
Office of the Dean
Washington, D.C. 20064

Institute on Preservation Education
August 2-4, 1990
Wye Plantation
Queenstown, Maryland



Thursday, August 2

4:15 p.m.       Bus departs from BWI Airport for Wye

5:45 p.m.       Welcome, reception


                Introduction of the seminar

Friday, August 3

9:00 to noon        "Is Your Definition of Preservation the Same as


                    --David Gracy

                    "Objectives of the Commission on Preservation and


                    --Patricia Battin

                    "Preservation Education Task Force: Its Charge and

                    Accomplishments to Date"

                    --Deanna Marcum

noon to 3:00 p.m.   Lunch


3:00-6:00 p.m.      "Views of an ARL Director"

                    --Joseph Rosenthal

                    "Views of a Preservation Educator"

                    --Carolyn Harris

                    "What Is a Library School To Do?"

                    --Deanna Marcum

6:00 to 9:00 p.m.   Dinner

                    Working groups

Saturday, August 4

9:00-noon           Discussion of the recommendations to be forwarded to

                    the Commission on Preservation and Access

Dinner              Bus departs for BWI Airport

Institute on Preservation Education
The Wye Institute, Queenstown, Maryland
August 2-4, 1990


Brenda Banks, Assistant Director
Secretary of State
Department of Archives and History
330 Capitol Ave., SE
Atlanta, Georgia 30334

Patricia Battin, President
Commission on Preservation and Access
1785 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20036

Nicholas C. Burckel, Associate Dean for Collections and Services
Washington University
Campus Box 1061
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, Missouri 63130-4899

Michele Cloonan, Preservation Officer
The John Hay Library
Brown University
Providence, Rhode Island 02912

David Cohen, Director of Libraries
Robert Scott Small Library
College of Charleston
Charleston, South Carolina 29424

Dr. Josephine Fang
Simmons College
Graduate School of Library and Information Science
300 The Fenway
Boston, Massachusetts 02115-5898

George Farr
National Endowment for the Humanities
Office of the President, Room 802
1100 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20506

Lisa Fox, Program Development Officer, Preservation
Southeastern Library Network, Inc.
400 Colony Square, Plaza Level
Atlanta, Georgia 30361-6301

James Govan, University Librarian
CB #3900, Davis Library
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599

David Gracy II, Governor Bill Daniel Professor in Archival Enterprise
Graduate School of Library and Information Science
The University of Texas at Austin
Austin, Texas 78712-1276

Carolyn Harris, Assistant Professor
School of Library Service
Columbia University
New York, New York 10027

Bonnie Juergens, Executive Director
AMIGOS Bibliographic Council
11300 North Central Expressway; Suite 321
Dallas, Texas 75243

Beverley Lynch, Dean
University of California, Los Angeles
Graduate School of Library and Information Science
405 Hilgard Ave.
Los Angeles, California 90024-1520

Deanna Marcum, Dean
The Catholic University of America
School of Library and Information Science
Washington, DC 20064

Caroline Mitchell, Initial Coordinator of the Institute on Preservation Education
2504 I St., NW
Washington, DC 20037

Jean Preer, Assistant Professor
The Catholic University of America
School of Library and Information Science
Washington, DC 20064

Sally Roggia, Instructor
School of Library and Information Science
University of Wisconsin
Helen C. White Hall
600 North Park St.
Madison, Wisconsin 53706

Joseph Rosenthal, Director
University Library
University of California at Berkeley
Berkeley, California 94720

Judith Serebnick, Associate Professor
School of Library and Information Science
Indiana University
Bloomington, Indiana 47405

Louise Southerland
Library Programs
Office of Educational Research and Improvement, Room 404F
555 New Jersey Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20208

Kathleen Moretto Spencer, Library Director
Shadek-Fackenthal Library
Franklin & Marshall College
P.O. Box 3003
Lancaster, Pennsylvania 17604-3003

Dr. Lois Upham, Professor
University of South Carolina
College of Library and Information Science
Columbia, South Carolina 29208

Commission on Preservation and Access 1400 16th Street, NW, Suite
740 Washington, DC 20036-2217 (202) 939-3400
September 1990

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.

Additional copies available at no charge while supplies last.

This publication has been submitted to the ERIC Clearinghouse on Information Resources to be made available in microfiche and hardcopy.

COPYRIGHT 1990 by The Commission on Preservation and Access. Copying is permitted provided that copies are not made or distributed for direct commercial advantage and credit to the source is given. Abstracting with credit is permitted. To copy other vise, or to republish, requires specific permission.

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