The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 18, Number 6
Oct 1994


Seven Grant Projects Funded in New York State

  1. New York State, as part of its state preservation program, funded the following projects for 1994/95:
  2. Preserving the Literature of National History of the Northeastern Bio-region ($67,000 for the first year).
  3. Digital Training for Preservation Administrators ($22,000). One-week training seminars on the use of digital technology for preservation reformatting, for representatives of the 11 major research libraries of the state.
  4. Preservation of Photographic Materials ($36,000).
  5. New York State Coordinated Science Serials Microfilming Project ($95,000).
  6. Enclosures and Air Pollution in Image Preservation ($42,000 for '94-'95). A two-year project, focusing on microfilms and enclosures.
  7. Preservation Administrator Internship ($38,000).
  8. Isoperms for Color Photography: A Two-Year Preser-vation Research and Development Project ($48,000 for '94-'95). (1M)

Law Librarians Active in Preservation

The American Association of Law Librarians (AALL) has a Preservation Committee, which is adopting the use of e-mail as a regular means of communication among members. In 1994/95 they will continue their project of the Checklist of U.S. Legal Materials on Permanent Formats, and they plan to publish it in their Occasional Paper series in 1994/95. They are compiling a list of preservation training programs, a major challenge; information will be sent to chapter Presidents in the various regions. They will contribute preservation tips to the AALL Newsletter, promote the established paper standards and the NISO Standard for Durable Hardcover Bindings in the legal publishing community, collect and disseminate information to members, and keep up with what the major institutions and organizations are doing in preservation. (2.6)

Princeton Scans 6 Million Old Catalog Cards

When libraries computerize their catalogs, they usually start by simply cataloging new books on the computer, and for a longish interim period they put up with two catalogs: one for the older books, on catalog cards, and one for the new ones, online. Eventually they have to bring the card catalog into the system; then they have to decide what to do with the cards.

Many smaller academic libraries do retrospective conversion of the card catalog, a re-cataloging procedure. At Princeton University Library, however, this would have been too laborious, because the 1.5 million pre-1980 books in the card catalog were represented by six million cards. So they simply scanned them, and indexed the resulting optical images, which users can consult through high-resolution monitors. Now the two computer catalogs are still separate, but both can be consulted at the computer. At some time in the future, Princeton librarians expect to be able to convert the scanned images to digital records through use of optical character recognition.

The article in the Princeton Weekly Bulletin for April 4, 1994 (sent in by Bob Milevski) does not say what will happen to the cards when the electronic version has proven itself, only that they will be removed. (2E3)

Saskatchewan has Conservation Service Too

The conservation service of the Archival Association of British Columbia was described on the last two pages of the August-September issue of this Newsletter. It is probably not surprising that the Saskatchewan Council of Archives has a service that is a lot like that one. It is described on p. 28 of the IIC-CG Bulletin for September. The current focus is the initiation of pest management programs within the member archives. (3A3.4)

Preservation of Video on Film Disapproved

AMIA-L is the electronic discussion list of the Association of Moving Image Archivists. Recent discussions are summarized in the AMIA Newsletter. The July issue summarizes the comments of five people on the question of whether videotapes should be preserved by transferring them to motion picture film. It started out when one person asked how much of this was being done, and at what cost. Two others said it was prohibitively expensive. A fourth person gave technical and esthetic reasons not to do it; and a fifth said there was no ideal medium for high-density storage of information, and in any case any compression over 5:1 is not acceptable for archiving.

Other reasons were given not to store videotapes on film, including the impermanence of film and the lack of a standard film format. About the only positive suggestion made was to increase tape longevity through use of controlled temperature and humidity. In a related discussion, it was stated that in a "normal" environment, tape should last about 20 years; if stored at low humidity and temperature, the tape may well last 100 years.

A European project was described called "Long-term Stability of Audio-Visual Data," which would identify degradation mechanisms and the preservation measures appropriate for essential audio-visual documents. Partners in the project are the Phonogrammarchiv of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the Centre for Archival Polymeric Materials of Manchester Polytechnic, the Oesterreichisches Kunststoff-institut, and Germany's Bundesarchiv. One product of the project would be a catalog of conservation, preservation, and rejuvenation measures which would be in the public domain and independent of the polymer industry and its trade secrets. (3G1)

Preservation Databases Online from PRLC

PRLC, the Pittsburgh Regional Library Center, has a new online preservation resource, Hypatia. Hypatia is a collection of full-text databases covering a variety of preservation issues using WAIS (Wide Area Information Server) technology for searching capability from anywhere on the Internet. Initially funded through PRLC and a preservation education and outreach grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Hypatia will be maintained by the preservation services manager at PRLC and new data-bases added as more information is obtained. Currently there are five local sources and a link to the CoOL sources for ease in multiple database searching.

If you are familiar with WAIS and have a client you may search hypatia-directory-of-servers at port 210 using the search term hypatia for a description of the databases. SWAIS is available for users without a client. You need a VT100 terminal emulation setting. To access, use the telnet command to The login is hypatia, password: hypatia. Dial-in access to the SWAIS client is 412/825-5580 using login hypatia and password hypatia.

There are databases on general preservation, disaster plans, AMIA-L Archives, supplies and services for the PRLC region, and disaster resources for the same region.

[Hypatia (c. 370-415 AD) was a Greek mathematician and philosopher, the first known female mathematician. She probably occupied the chair of Neo-Platonic Philosophy at Alexandria. She was murdered by a Christian mob in a riot. -Ed.] (5B)

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