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Subject: Preservation databases

Preservation databases

From: N. J. Bud Goldstone <as768>
Date: Thursday, June 25, 1998
In response to Gretchen's item, same subject, we have used a
database successfully for 12 years to keep account of data on a)
about 1,000 baseline photographs; b) emergency stabilization
treatments on 17 sculptures; c) an extensive inspection of the
sculptures in 1988-1989; and d) many thousands of conservation
treatments applied to the sculptures of the Watts Towers of Simon
Rodia, a National Historic Landmark in Los Angeles. The site is
managed by the Cultural Affairs Department (CAD). Although the Watts
Towers are a Unit of the State of California Historic Park System
and a city Cultural Heritage Monument, the conservation work and its
database are both 'stand-alone' and independent of other city or
state conservation work and databases. If the database is of
possible use to you, read on. If you have a small budget and some
control over changes to software and hardware, our system may be of
interest. However, you must take an oath that 1)'the enemy of the
good is the better'; 2) software and hardware changes must be
avoided; and 3) never forget the 5 1/4" disk, 33 1/3 " records,
slide rules, gramophones and punched cards.

As a conservation engineer, I have worked under contract to CAD for
12 years. In setting up the conservation data system in 1987, we
were (luckily) constrained by existing computer hardware and
software available to the city government--all inexpensive and
available with good documentation.  The system we chose included use
of the relational database Paradox (copyright), the spreadsheet
program Lotus (copyright), and the word processing program Word
Perfect (copyright).

The Watts Towers consist of 17 sculptures, three taller than 55
feet. The sculptural surfaces cover 15,000 square feet and most are
decorated with different sized colorful tiles, glass, pottery pieces
and sea shells. We have a set of about 1,000 photographs all on
color microfiche. The photographs are accurate images (on a
four-foot by four-foot square grid) of each area of each surface of
each of the set of 17 sculptures. The photographs on microfiche are
used by printing out one 4' by 4' image on 8 1/2" by 11" paper for
each area about to be worked by the Cultural Affairs staff.

We store all the results of the work on ZIP cassettes (100M each),
including color photographs and text. We have only part-time
clerical people and as-needed staff conservation helpers so the
databases are the ultimate responsibility of conservator Zuleyma
Aguirre and me. If you need more information contact me at
as768 [at] lafn__org.

Bud Goldstone conservation engineering

                  Conservation DistList Instance 12:7
                  Distributed: Thursday, July 2, 1998
                        Message Id: cdl-12-7-011
Received on Thursday, 25 June, 1998

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