The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 19, Number 1
Apr 1995


News

LC Deacidification Program Funded for 2 More Years

The Library of Congress notified directors of ARL member libraries in a brief e-mail announcement February 15 that--

... Chairs of our appropriations subcommittees in both the House and Senate have approved our request to obligate $1.8 million for a new two-year action plan for continuation of the Library's mass deacidification program. Most of this money will be used to further process enhancements and increase the scale of our use of the Bookkeeper technology; in this part of the action plan we will deacidify c. 36,000 volumes per year for two years. Many of these will be actual LC books intended for the permanent collections. The remainder of the funds will be used to provide evaluation and development assistance for any vendors offering competing approaches. We are also pleased that a domestic vendor has approached the Library for extensive information about the DEZ process, with a view toward determining its economic viability now that we have perfected the process.

National Media Lab & CPA Will Develop Management Tools for Magnetic Media

The National Media Lab (NML) in St. Paul, Minnesota, is part of the National Technology Laboratories, which according to the NML brochure are "a unique and powerful partnership linking Government with commercial and academic resources.… NML connects Government users with industry and university leaders in data storage. Increased communication enables Goverment needs to be addressed through commercial means." The National Archives, NIST, Jet Propulsion Lab and Library of Congress are among the government participants in the partnership. Industry participants include Battelle Labs and Kodak, and university participants include Carnegie-Mellon University. NML's newsletter, NML Bits, provides access to research happenings, practical information, and new developments from NML and elsewhere. An informative brochure is available on request: fax NML at 612/733-4340.

Brazilian Industry Supports Training for Document Conservation

The Servico Nacional de Aprendizagen Industrial/São Paulo (SENAI, the National Service for Industrial Education) has given book and paper conservation a big boost in Brazil by setting up a laboratory for restoring paper and documents. The paper industry probably played a major role in this, because the equipment includes a pilot paper mill, a paper dryer, distiller, dionizer and paper refibrator, as well as (presumably) more conventional conservation equipment.

SENAI has been cooperating with ABER, the Associação Brasileira de Encadernação e Restauro (Brazilian Association of Bookbinders and Restorers) for five years under the terms of an agreement whereby SENAI would train conservators in graphic arts, paper and pulp, using the school's existing resources. The current semester of this full-time course of study runs from March 20 to June 29. Enrollment is limited to 14. The program is divided about equally between graphic arts (printing, photography, inks, papermaking) and conservation (history, ethics, book and document restoration, pest control, etc.) For more information, write ABER, at

Largo Ana Rosa, 29, apto. 101
04106-090 - São Paulo - SP
Brazil
(Information from Guita Mindlin of ABER, and from Paper & Board Abstracts 28/2, 1995, Abstract 769.)

RCA/V&A Offer Specialized Training in Book Conservation

The Royal College of Art and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London are jointly offering advanced training and research opportunities suited to conservation graduates, experienced conservators or craftspeople within the paper-based disciplines. Already they have graduated two MA students in Conservation of Historic Wallpapers, one MA student in conservation of photographic materials and an MPhil student whose research involved instrumental analysis of historic photographs. This year a two-year course in albums and sketchbooks, for one student only, is available. The application deadline was January 31. For more information write Assistant Registrar (Admissions), Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2EU (fax 071 225 1487).

NEH Presses On Regardless

The audience of preservation librarians and archivists applauded, at a recent meeting on document scanning, when George Farr of NEH's Division of Preservation and Access said that the staff had gathered to discuss the possibility of funding being cut or eliminated, and they decided to go on asking for proposals and issuing grants as usual, as long as they were able. The grant proposals they have received in recent years have been of higher quality than ever, he said.

The Division's new annual deadline for all applications is July 1. Because this falls on a Saturday, the deadline for 1995 will be July 3. Drafts should be submitted six to eight weeks before the deadline. For more information contact Barbara Paulson <bpaulson@neh.fed.us>, or call Laura Word at 202/606-8570.

At the Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association, the Preservation and Reformatting Section (PARS) put forward a resolution urging Congress to reauthorize the NEH. The ALA Council approved it and sent it out over ALCTS Network News, v. 9 #1, Feb. 22, 1995.

Scanning Projects: Music in Tennessee, Archival Materials in Pennsylvania

The University of Tennessee Knoxville has completed a project that involved scanning of close to 1500 very miscellaneous items up to 50 pages long, having to do with the musician Ferruccio Busoni. It was an exploratory project, raising as many questions as it answered. A major conclusion was that digitization cannot, at this time, substitute for any other form of preservation, though it offers advantages and disadvantages not found in other forms.

Another project, at Pennsylvania State University, scanned books, negatives and documents from two heavily used collections totalling 328,700 documents. Workflow procedures were worked out, and it was found that a technician could scan at the rate of 75 to 115 pages per hour depending on how homogeneous the material was. (Information from CPA Newsletter for April 1995).

Everyone Participates in These Disaster Plans

The Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts, in Philadelphia, is seeking applicants to participate in a Disaster Preparedness and Response Program. Only institutions with historic collections in six Pennsylvania counties are eligible to receive the information, expertise and financial support offered by CCAHA to help them develop a written disaster preparedness and recovery plan. But all staff, governing board members, and volunteers will be required to participate in formulation and adoption of a disaster preparedness and response plan. A staff member must be identified who will coordinate planning and write the plan; and assistance will be needed from other personnel, such as the security and safety staff or contracted service, Fire Marshal and local fire company, and building maintenance and/or physical plant staff.

The William Penn Foundation is funding the program. The three-year grant is large (close to half a million dollars) for such a small region, but will protect collections of great value in the history-rich Delaware Valley. Application deadline: May 1. Contact Virgilia Rawnsley, Director of Preservation Services, Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts, 264 South 23rd St., Philadelphia, PA 19103 (215/ 545-0613).

Charters of Freedom get Their 7-Year Inspection

The Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence, referred to collectively as the "Charters of Freedom," are kept on permanent display at the National Ar-chives. Because they were already old and fragile from almost 200 years of handling and damaging display conditions, and because they are very popular with the American public, the Archives had a serious preservation challenge when it finally acquired the documents in 1952: How do you put something on permanent display without damaging and ultimately destroying it? Light is an obvious culprit, but handling, temperature, humidity and even oxygen and terrorist actions are also agents. Solution: Seal each page in a glass enclosure filled with helium; exhibit it under very low light levels behind bullet-proof glass with UV filters; and store it in an underground vault at night.

In order to monitor the condition of the Charters, the Archives scans them every seven years using equipment developed for the Hubble space telescope, installed in 1987 and upgraded during the last four years. At least one test patch is scanned on each page, and compared electronically with the previous scan to point up any changes. Some changes have been noticed, but none that were significant. (From the Summer 1994 Technology and Conservation, p. 7-8, 10, and the New York Times' Science Times section, Feb. 14, 1995) 3B2.2

New Task Force on Preservation of Digital Materials

A Task Force on Archiving of Digital Information was set up early this year by the Commission on Preservation and Access (CPA) and the Research Libraries Group (RLG). It includes specialists in publishing, information technology, and library and archival administration. The presidents of the two organizations issued a joint statement, saying, "It is one thing to create digital repositories. It is quite another to ensure that those repositories are accessible indefinitely into the future in the face of changing technologies, formats, and modes of access."

Periodic "refreshment" of electronic records--copying them onto newer media and into newer formats--is currently seen as the best available means of keeping the records for more than a decade or so. The task force will analyze and seek solutions to problems with use of technology refreshment that must be solved if it is to become an acceptable long-term solution. It will also investigate alternatives to refreshment.

The task force is co-chaired by Don Waters of Yale and John Garrett of the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI). Waters is quoted in the February 6 news release from RLG as saying, "Preserving electronic information is not only, or even primarily, a technological matter." The task force will explore intellectual, social, economic, and legal ramifications as well. They expect to complete an interim report by May of this year.

The 21-member task force includes Pamela Andre (NAL), Nancy Elkington (RLG), Margaret Hedstrom (NYSARA), Robert Kelly (APS), Diane Kresh (LC), Stephen P. Mooney (CCC), and Stuart Weibel (OCLC). But Jeff Rothenberg, author of the Scientific American article that the press release about this Task Force quotes in its opening paragraph, is not among them. Rothenberg's article appeared in the January issue on p. 42-47: "Ensuring the Longevity of Digital Documents."

Recent Disasters

NISO Moves to Larger Quarters, Keeps Same PO Box #

The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) moved recently from the small office it had occupied for 12 years. Now that it has more than 20 active standards committees, it uses more meeting and office space. The new address is:

National Information Standards Organization
4733 Bethesda Ave.
Sute 300
Bethesda, MD 20814.

The post office box number is still 1056, Bethesda, MD 20827.

NISO publications can still be ordered at:

NISO Press Fulfillment
PO Box 338
Oxon Hill, MD 20750-0338
301/567-9522, fax 567-9553

NISO is the only organization accredited by ANSI to develop and maintain technical standards for information services, libraries, publishers, and others involved in the creation and use of information.

CPA & Council on Library Resources (CLR) Affiliate

On February 24, the boards of the Commission on Preservation and Access (CPA) and the Council on Library Resources (CLR) voted to affiliate with one another in order to gain staffing and programmatic efficiency. Deanna B. Marcum has agreed to serve as president of both organizations, and M. Stuart Lynn has agreed to serve on a part-time basis as vice president, remaining based in California. The affiliation became official March 1.

Each organization will retain its independence and responsibilities with regard to mission and financial affairs, but they may undertake cooperative projects.

The Commission grew out of a series of meetings in the early 1980s, sponsored by CLR, the American Council of Learned Societies and the Association of American Universities, and funded by Exxon. They were called Forum I, Forum II and Forum III. Between Forums II and III, the CLR organized the people invited to these meetings into the Committee on Preservation and Access. In 1986, the Committee published a 31-page book called Brittle Books, and became the Commission on Preservation and Access. (For early history of the Commission, see the October 1984 issue of the Abbey Newsletter, p. 68, and the October 1986 issue, p. 79.)

The Beginning of the End for the AMIGOS Database

This is not a sad story, but a sign that times are changing and that AMIGOS is moving with the times. In the January 1995 ¿Que Pasa?--the newsletter of AMIGOS Bibliographic Council--Chairman of the Board Robert A. Seal explained in his column that the staff was preparing to close the book on certain computer-based products and services that once were very important to members. Demand for tape processing, union list projects and other work requiring the use of the AMIGOS mainframe computer has declined, and maintenance of bibliographic records is now performed locally as part of integrated library systems. The AMIGOS database will be phased out. Instead the network will concentrate on services still in demand: reference services, current cataloging, and training in management and preservation.

CAPES: A Low-Cost, Effective Regional Program for Archives

Since 1988, the Caucus Archival Projects Evaluation Services (CAPES) has provided 135 onsite archival technical consultations in New Jersey, funded by the New Jersey Historical Commission, at an average cost of $263.96. The evaluations cover, but are not limited to, preservation aspects of archival management. At least six of the 16 consultants are active in the preservation field to some degree.

Since archives are numerous but generally smaller than libraries, on the average, programs that reach a large number of collections at a modest price, as this one does, are appropriate. An independent evaluation of CAPES produced a favorable report in July 1992: "Caucus Archival Project Evaluation Service: Program Assessment Report." (Information from maa [Mid-Atlantic Archivist] XXIV/1, Winter 1995, p. 10.)

Film-Related Documents to be Scanned & Intensively Indexed

The Pacific Film Archive (PFA) at the University of California at Berkeley recently received an NEH grant to help fund the scanning of newspaper clippings, festival program notes, publicity materials, and other documents amounting to 200,000 pages. Each scanned document will be indexed by 12 kinds of information: the film's title, alternate title, director, country, year, genre, and film subject, in addition to the document author, title, source, date, and document subject. Indexing will be available over the Internet, and PFA plans to provide remote access to the document images. It also hopes to be able to provide copies of the documents to researchers.

This is described as a preservation and subject access project in the October 1994 AMIA Newsletter, the source of this information, but it is not preservation in the usual sense. Rather it is a project that will provide, by means of the resulting index, not only improved access to the images and the potential for copying them on demand, but a basis for conventional preservation and for many other functions that must be performed in a well-run collection.

Visiting Rights Curtailed for LC's Gettysburg Address

The custody of the LC copies of the Gettysburg Address, in dispute for the last few years, has been decided by the Joint Committee on the Library, according to a report in the February American Libraries, on p. 132. (The LC/Park Service dispute is reported on the first page of the April issue of this newsletter.) The National Park Service wanted to continue displaying one the LC's drafts annually during the tourist season, and would not accept a high-quality facsimile instead. The LC Preservation Directorate said that such continued exhibition threatened to destroy the document. The Joint Committee on the Library settled it by directing the Library not to lend it for exhibition any more. The Library of Congress has commissioned two specially designed environmental containers with inert atmospheres (no oxygen) and UV-filtering plexiglass, so that it can be viewed by researchers without being damaged.

Preserving Antarctic Heritage

Not many people realize that there are historic sites in Antarctica, but every expedition must have left something behind--supplies, shelters, even books and papers. The recent First Joint NZPCG-AICCM Conference in Wellington, New Zealand saw the formation of the Antarctic Heritage Special Interest Group. Papers were presented on a broad range of subjects including a castaway hut on one of the Auckland Islands, cooperation between archaeologists and conservators in field work at Mawson's Huts, and monitoring complex humidity problems inside Scott's Hut at Cape Evans. There was unanimous agreement that the sites, far from being preserved by the "dry cold," are facing rapid deterioration due to humidity-related problems as well as to the severe winds. (From the December AICCM National Newsletter, p. 10.)

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