The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 11, Number 2
Mar 1987

PLMS, Midwinter

by Ellen McCrady

The Preservation of Library Materials Section (PLMS) meets whenever its parent body, the American Library Association, does, in January and June. Like the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS), Reproduction of Library Materials Section (RLMS) and other sections, PLMS may put on a program for the whole membership in the Summer meeting, bet in both meetings its own membership simply attends committee meetings and discussion groups, which any member may attend, and even take part in, unless the chairman limits participation to committee members. If there are no scheduling conflicts, some PLMS members also try to attend RBMS or RLMS meetings.

This year most of the action was in the Preservation Administrators' Discussion Group, the Education Committee and the new Library Binding Discussion Group.

The PA Discussion Group, chaired by Barclay Ogden, is very exclusive: only full-time preservation administrators who supervise are allowed to take part. Only one representative per institution is allowed. Others may sit around the edge and observe the resultant coherent discussion. The main topics covered were education for preservation administration, preservation statistics and assistants.

We compared the educational value and cost of intern-ships with the Columbia program, and the general opinion was favorable to the internships. The New York Public Library, the Library of Congress and Stanford will continue them. The easiest kind to administer are the special-project kind, especially when the interns have several years of general experience behind them.

We tried to give constructive criticism on the ARL Preservation Survey, the compiled results of which were recently distributed to respondents. This survey, which may have a big influence on the form of national preservation statistics, had one big weakness: the definitions of the categories. Even after prolonged discussion, however, the participants were unable to agree on any definitions that were much better. Every program includes a different range of activities, and groups them within the organizational structure in different ways. How do you report treatment? There is a big difference between strengthening hinges and full conservation. Den Etherington suggested the subcategories major, minor and phased. How do you define conservation? By whether it is documented? By whether it is done by someone who was hired as a conservator?

Since the Summer meeting, four PAs had applied to NEH for funding for an assistant. Only Yale was successful, because it had a commitment to support the position after the internship period was over. This may be a bad time to try to open an assistant's job: at two universities, professional positions in preservation have been cut out rather than added. There is a tendency in libraries to use students and clerks for microfilming, bindery prep, and so on, and not to let PAs have secretaries; but it is hard to have a good relationship with curators, participants said, when you are always busy with chores. Supervision and training also interfere. At Stanford and Cornell, however, a new type of job has been opened for people whose main duty will be to keep the books moving and facilitate production.

The Education Committee, under Gay Walker (one of the founders of PLMS a "foremother"), had a long agenda and covered most of it.

In the Library Binding Discussion Group, Don Etherington gave news of the two new training programs whose graduates will wind up working for libraries and binderies. Marc Esser is said to be doing marvelous work with his students at the North Bennet Street School in Boston. The University of Texas Institute of Fine Binding and Conservation opens in May, with James Brockman and Tony Cains as instructors. Fifty people applied for 12 openings there, and 16 were finally admitted. Even so, nine qualified applicants had to be turned away.

In the same meeting, Jack Bendror described his ABLE programs for libraries and binders who want to computerize their bindery records. There are two: one for the librarian and one for the binder. He can help the libraries link their ABLE program up to their own serials check-in system. Some binders are giving the software to their customers, bet not all can afford to. The binder's part will not be done till June.

I attended only one RBMS meeting because of conflicts with PLMS meetings: the Information Exchange, a general discussion group that meets in the evening.

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