The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 25, Number 4
Dec 2001


Literature

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ARL Preservation Statistics, 1997-98: a compilation of statistics from the members of the Association of Research Libraries, compiled and edited by Julia C. Blixrud et al. Published by ARL, 21 Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20036 (202/296-2296; fax 202/872-0884; e-mail: pubs@arl.org. ISSN 1050-7442. About 65 pages; softcover.

Data for the last ten years is summarized in a few pages at the beginning of the book; they are followed by tables of data on personnel (FTE), expenditures, and conservation treatment; and binding and preservation reformatting.

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NISO has published its new Guidelines for Information about Preservation Products (Z39.77-2001), which identifies the information and terms vendors should use in catalogs and ads describing products used to store, bind, or repair a variety of library holdings, including books, pamphlets, sound recordings, videos, films, CDs, manuscripts, maps and photographs. It includes a good, accurate glossary and a set of references to related standards. Best of all, it is available for free downloading or hardcopy purchase at http://www.techstreet.com/cgi-bin/detail?productid=87919.It contains 30 pages.

For additional information contact NISO Headquarters at 301/654-2512 or nisohq@niso.org.

Members of the committee at the time the standard was approved were Mark Roosa (Chair), Library of Congress; Harry Campbell, Etherington Conservation Center; Jesse Munn, Library of Congress; Nancy Schrock, Harvard College Library; and Abby Shaw, Conservation Resources International.

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North American Graduate Programs in the Conservation of Cultural Property: Histories, Alumni. Association of North American Graduate Programs in Conservation (ANAGPIC, formerly titled AGPIC), 2000. 170 pp., softcover. The price is not given in the book, but copies may be available from any of the programs, and more information on availability and price can be obtained from Irene Brückle at the Art Conservation Department, Buffalo State College (brückle@buffnet.net).

The Association was called into existence in 1974 on the occasion of a disastrous flood that damaged the Corning Glass Museum in Corning, New York. To explain salvage methods for this unique glass collection and its library, discuss the deterioration of materials affected by the flood, and to solicit recovery help, Dr. Robert Brill, Researcher at the Corning Museum of Glass, organized a meeting of the graduate programs at the site of the disaster.

The graduate programs have met every year since 1974, rotating among the programs. Students give papers for the first day and senior professionals in the field give talks on topics chosen by the hosting institution on the second day.

Histories of the eight programs are on p. 21-79: Harvard, New York University, ICA at Oberlin, Buffalo State College, Winterthur, Queen's University, the Smithsonian's Furniture Conservation Training Program, and the University of Texas at Austin. Pages 85 to 168 list all the graduates of each program, and their present position and location, if known, along with their student specialty and date of graduation from the program. This list of graduates is unique and should be useful in many ways.

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A Degree of Mastery: a Journey through Book Arts Apprenticeship, by Annie Tremmel Wilcox. Hard cover: New River Press, June 1998; paperback: Penguin, July 1999, $12.95. 210 or 224 pp. (citations vary).

This is a memoir of the author's apprenticeship with Bill Anthony, the widely respected and admired master binder and conservator. Anthony had worked as the studio director at the Cuneo Press in Chicago before moving to the University of Iowa, where he was the University Conservator. He was training four apprentices in a grant-funded program at the time of his death in 1989. (Three previous apprentices had completed their training with him: Bill Minter, Mark Esser, and David Brock.)

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"At a Slight Angle to the Universe: the University in a Digitized, Commercialized Age," by William G. Bowen. The Romanes Lecture for 2000, delivered before the University of Oxford on October 17, 2000, and printed as a special issue of ARL, June 2001. 16 pp. Price and availability information from the Association of Research Libraries, 21 Dupont Circle, Washington, DC 20036 (202/296-2296, Fax 202/872-0884).

Bowen's focus is on the effect of two opposing forces on university policies: information technology and "the associated, but distinct, increase in reliance on the market to solve problems of all kinds." He is certainly qualified to tackle these global concepts, because he is an economist, a former president of Princeton University, and now president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

He warns against investing in a rapidly changing technology without considering how it is to be maintained. To be sustainable, he says, a project needs continuing access to the technical capacity and budgetary resources needed to migrate from one platform to another. It is easy to spend large sums of money developing multimedia courses of high quality, but does the budget also include the costs of changing technology and updating presentations? the drain on the instructor's time can be unexpectedly burdensome.

"Similarly," he says, "a faculty report at the University of Illinois suggests that 'sound online instruction is likely to cost more than traditional instruction' and that 'the scenario of hundreds or thousands of students enrolling in a well-developed, essentially instructor-free online course does not appear realistic.' the demise of the California Virtual University is, as the Chronicle of Higher Education observed, 'a sobering reminder of how hard it is to run a successful "portal" for online education.'"

He does have good things to say about JSTOR: "...Not only does JSTOR improve dramatically the ability of scholars to find and use journal literature, it also offers the prospect of savings for library systems, even after taking account of the user fees that libraries pay."

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Management of Library and Archival Security: From the Outside Looking In. Robert K. O'Neill, ed. Haworth Press, 1998; co-published simultaneously as Journal of Library Administration, v. 25 #1, 1998. 120 pp. ISBN 0-7890-0519-0.

Seven chapters cover collections security, protection from theft and damage, law enforcement and the library, special collections security, and what to do in the aftermath of a theft. Authors include Susan M. Allen, Beth Patkus, Gregor Trinkaus-Randall, and the editor himself, Robert K. O'Neill, who is a very good writer.

O'Neill's chapter is "Sting! the Irish Stones Caper: a Case Study in International Cooperation Involving the Recovery of Stolen Antiquities." He was involved in the sting operation, and writes in the first person, so it reads like a good suspense story. The other chapters are more sober and full of serious advice, which is good advice; but the subject matter is so important, and so often ignored, that it may be time to start thinking about a well-organized, authoritative book of standard precautions and actions, so that it would be easy for an administration to assess the preparedness of the library at intervals. Such a volume would supplement rather than replace collected contributions such as this one, which is designed for reading and discussion rather than reference.

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Looking at Paper: Evidence & Interpretation. Symposium Proceedings, Toronto 1999. Held at the Royal Ontario Museum and Art Gallery of Ontario, May 13-16, 1999. Edited by John Slavin, Linda Sutherland, John O'Neil, Margaret Haupt and Janet Cowan. 262 full-size pages. Copyright by the Minister of Public works and Government Services, Canada, 2001. Available from the Canadian Conservation Institute, <http://www.cci-icc.gc.ca/>. ISBN 0-660-18571-7.

This symposium was a cooperative effort of a large number of institutions and organizations, speakers from Canada, Britain, U.S., Netherlands, Japan, New Zealand, Denmark, editors, and others. It included two workshops (one by Peter Bower on western papers, and one by Akinori Okawa on oriental papers). Both workshops were recorded and the transcriptions included in the proceedings. Addresses and biographical information for all the presenters are given in the back of the volume.

There are 27 presentations covering papers used by artists, architects and printmakers; paper history in the West and the East; early machines and methods of papermaking; watermarks and paper evidence; digital imaging of special materials; forensic paper investigation; alternative fibers; and decorated paper. None of the papers covered conservation processes, but all conservators need to understand the material they work with, and these papers provide the information needed for understanding.

When these proceedings came in the mail, I (E. McCrady) looked all through it, to select the papers or passages of most interest to me. I wrote the page numbers down on the flyleaf: 7, 41, 44, 54, 76, 82, 88, 95, 105, 112, 122, 141, 154, 196, 189 and the transcripts of both workshops. It is not possible to summarize all these passages in the time available, so I will only advise everyone to buy the book for $50 US. Contact Christine Bradley at the Canadian Conservation Institute (613/998-3721).

The soft cover volume is very well bound and attractive, and it is printed on paper that meets the ANSI permanence standard.

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The Evidence in Hand: Report of the Task Force on the Artifact in Library Collections. Council on Library and Information Resources, Washington, DC, Nov. 2001. It is available on the Internet at http://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub103/pub103.pdf. 114 pp. ISBN 1-887334-88-2. The paper is permanent, but too thick, and the spine of this softcover book is so stiff that the book has to be read with two hands.

Two years before Nicholson Baker published his book, Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper, CLIR had assembled a task force of scholars, librarians and archivists, to consider the problem that faces libraries and archives today: the growing demand for access to original materials, and the impossibility of finding enough funds to collect and preserve everything of potential research value. One would think that the demand for originals would diminish, because this was supposedly one reason for setting up digitization programs: to save wear on the originals. However, it has been quite the opposite.

The Task Force on the Artifact in Library Collections was charged with answering some big questions. A central question was: What will constitute good stewardship of our intellectual and cultural heritage in the first decades of the twenty-first century? They were also asked to identify the qualities of an original that are useful or necessary to retain, and the advantages and disadvantages of various preservation options, among other things.

The Task Force made five groups of recommendations, listed on p. 72-74: 1) Principles of Good Stewardship, 2) Best Practices for Preservation of the Artifact, 3) Strategies for Specific Formats, 4) Recommendations, and 5) Areas for Further Research. This section is followed by seven appendices with relevant facts and statistics, e.g., "Current Library Practices in Collection Development and Preservation."

The first 69 pages of the book are textual discussion, clear and well organized.

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