Infinity (Fall/Winter 2001 Volume 17, Number 2)

SAA Preservation Section Affinity Newsletter 17:2 (Mislabeled 17.1)


The Newsletter of the SAA Preservation Section         Fall/Winter 2001 Volume 17, Number 2

Message from the Editor:
The editor regrets that the Spring/Summer issue for 2001 was
misnumbered and the year left off. This web version has been corrected.

In This Issue:

Editor’s Note

If you’ve been thinking that you’ve missed an issue of Infinity, you can stop worrying. It is quite late, but it’s still being published. Every effort will be made to keep it coming out on time in the future. Contributions are welcome. Write an article on your project; send news of your workshop. Help us get out the kind of news you want to see.

Preservation Minutes of the Preservation Section Business Meeting

Friday, August 31, 2001, 8:00-10:00

Sarah Talley, the Outgoing Preservation Section Chair, introduced herself and welcomed the group. Sarah gave a brief summary of her experiences as a Section Chair. As she stated, "It takes a full two years to learn the full range of duties of a section chair, then you are done." Sarah addressed some major upcoming issues, including revisions to the bylaws, selected readings, and the listserv. Sarah mentioned that she would continue in her role as an advisor to the section. Sarah then provided a brief overview of the Section's meeting logistics and introduced the next several speakers.

[Information on NEH and NHPRC grants is given here as part of the minutes. The information is not current.]

Barbara Paulson, Senior Program Officer of the Division of Preservation and Access of NEH provided an update on NEH Activities, including Preservation Assistance Grants, which are available to help libraries, archives, museums and historical organizations enhance their capacity to preserve their humanities collections. Activities that can be supported through a Preservation Assistance Grant include:

  • general preservation or conservation assessments that help an institution identify its overall preservation needs and develop a long-range, prioritized plan to address those needs
  • consultations with preservation professionals to develop a plan to address a previously identified problem
  • attendance at preservation workshops and training program
  • the purchase of preservation supplies, equipment, and storage furniture applicants who request funding for the purchase of storage furniture must demonstrate that the request is based on a completed preservation assessment or a specialized consultation with a preservation professional NEH will pay for consultant fees, travel and per diem;
  • registration fees, travel and per diem for staff to attend preservation workshops;
  • the purchase of basic preservation supplies such as permanent and durable folders, boxes, photo sleeves, and other materials needed to store collections;
  • equipment for monitoring environmental conditions; and
  • storage cabinets, map cases, and shelving made of stable and durable materials.

To be eligible, your organization must: be a nonprofit, tax-exempt U.S. organization or institution; care for and own humanities collections; have at least one professional staff member or the full time equivalent (whether paid or unpaid); and be open and provide services or programs at least 120 days per year. An institution may submit one application per dead-line.

Awards of up to $5,000. will be made nationwide, but as part of the Extending the Reach initiative special consideration will be given to applicants in jurisdictions that have been identified as underserved by the National Endowment for the Humanities. These jurisdictions include: Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming.

NEH will not pay for the following:

  • projects that focus on collections that fall outside of the humanities
  • staff salaries and fringe benefits
  • digitization of collections or the purchase of computers, scanners, or digital cameras
  • conservation or restoration treatments or the purchase of conservation or restoration treatment supplies and equipment
  • graduate level training or attendance at the regular meetings of preservation or conservation organizations
  • capital improvements to buildings and building systems

Richard Cameron, Director of State Program at NHPRC provided an update on NHPRC preservation activities. Established by Congress in 1934, the Commission is a 15-member body, chaired by the Archivist of the United States, and composed of representatives of the three branches of the Federal government and of professional associations of archivists, historians, documentary editors, and records administrators. Through its grant program, training programs, research services and special projects, the Commission offers advice and assistance to individuals and non-Federal agencies and institutions committed to the preservation and use of America's documentary resources.

Each year the NHPRC receives an appropriation from Congress from which it makes grants. After much worry about the 2002 Budget, NHPRC is hopeful that the funding levels will be close to those for 2001. NHPRC has statutory authorization through fiscal year 2005 to receive up to $10 million in annual appropriations for grants. The Commission meets in November and in May to establish policy and to recommend to the Archivist of the United States grants it believes should be funded. The Commission's administrative staff at the National Archives and Records Administration implements its policies and recommendations, provides assistance and advice to potential applicants, and advises the Commission on proposals. The Commission also publishes, Annotation, a newsletter highlighting Commission projects and actions.

NHPRC Programs include:

  • Archival Grants: to ensure that records, documenting the American experience, are saved and made available for public use.
  • Educational Programs and Fellowship, including fellowships in Archival Administration at host institutions for a nine to ten month training experience in various aspects of archival management; fellowships in Advanced Historical Editing for doctorallevel students of American history.
  • Institute for the Editing of Historical Documents at the University of Wisconsin.
  • Electronic Records: The NHPRC seeks ways to ensure that records created today will be usable on tomorrow's technology.
  • Publications Grants: Support for the publication of documents that explore the lives and actions of important figures and/or bring to light major themes of United States history.
  • Founding Era Projects: Papers of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington, and the Ratification of the United States Constitution, the First Federal Congress, and the early Supreme Court.
  • Documentary editing projects reflecting the New World and American experience: From the earliest days of Spanish colonization to the Civil Rights Movement, these projects document the contributions of unknown persons to national leaders.
  • Subvention Grants: The NHPRC provides funds to non-profit presses to underwrite the publication of documentary editions. The volumes meet ANSI standards for paper and binding.
  • State Coordinators & Boards Grants Program: Support for advisory bodies for historical records planning and for many projects carried out within the states to strengthen the nation's archival infrastructure.
  • Regrant Program: Aimed to reach a broader range of institutions and organizations, especially those at the grass-roots level, and to encourage statewide collaboration.

During the second and final meeting of FY 2001, the Commission acted on 81 proposals requesting a total of $8,293,928. The Commission recommended to the Archivist of the United States grants of up to $2,898,008 for 48 projects, 47 of which were competitive projects. These recommendations included $1,989,089 for documentary editing projects which focus upon the papers of significant Americans other than the Founding Fathers (none of which received requested increases) and $31,993 for subventions.

Noting that current appropriations made it impossible for the NHPRC also to fund records access projects at the levels and in the numbers justified by their importance and high quality, members voted to award $718,823 for eight records projects, of which $435,712 is to made available now, with the remaining $283,111 to be paid out either in FY 2001 from unspent funds returned from closed grants or from projects unable to raise the required level of matching funds, or from FY2002 appropriations. Two additional records projects were awarded contingent funding totaling $79,107, to be awarded only if FY 2001 returns were to sufficiently exceed the $283,111 needed to fund the projects mentioned above. Ten other records projects of superior quality which the Commission was unable to fund at this time were endorsed and encouraged to resubmit next year.

The Commission also reviewed two Congressionally earmarked projects, recommending an initial grant of $78,996 for Heritage Harbor Museum's "Native Journeys" Documentation Project, Providence, RI, and approving the release of up to $1,097,550 in second year funding for the Center for Jewish History, New York, NY.

Tom Connors, Council Liaison for the Preservation Section provided an update on SAA Council Activities. Tom talked about the joys of working with Council and encouraged Preservation Section participants to submit numerous session proposals for 2002.

Cathy Mundale, Education Committee Chair provided an update on the Preservation Section Education Committee. FY2001 was not a particularly active period for this committee, however new activities will be planned for FY2002.

Pam Hackbart-Dean, Nominating Committee Chair provided an update on the Preservation Section Nominating Committee. Pam mentioned that the election turnout has been poor in previous years but that this year the Section experienced a contested election, which she hoped was an indicator of better election turnout in future years. Pam announced that Diane Vogt-O'Connor was the incoming chair, Anke Voss-Hubbard was the Vice-Chair, Clark Center was the Newsletter Editor, Linda Overman is the Program Committee Chair, and Sheila McAllister is the Outreach Committee Chair.

Sheila McAlister, Outreach Committee Chair provided an update on the Preservation Section Outreach Committee. Sheila received a standing ovation for her work on putting together the archival preservation section listserv. Sheila noted that listserv traffic is limited at this point, so that if a section member is waiting to join, now would be a good time. Listserv traffic is not overwhelming. Sheila stated that participants on the listserv are being encouraged to take their practical nuts and bolts questions of "how do I do x" to the Stanford Cool Website.

Sheila McAlister also talked briefly about the Preservation Section Survey results. She noted that initial participation was limited. However, after mailings, Web postings, and superhuman efforts, the turnout has improved to 46% of the section members. Sheila posted a chart listing the statistical breakdown of results from the survey, which she plans to place on the Website shortly. Sheila noted that most respondents wanted training in electronic records and digital imaging with 17% wanting training in managing photographic collections.

Diane Vogt-O'Connor read Linda Overrun's report from the Program Committee, which reminded listeners that the deadline for program proposals for the 2001 meeting was October 6, 2000. We have the same October 6th deadline for proposals for the 2002. Last year, four proposals were sent to Linda to be reviewed for format and completeness. Following a review by Sarah Talley, then section chair, they were sent to the SAA 2001 Program Committee for consideration. In perusing the program for the 2001 meeting, Linda saw that all four proposals are represented (although two appear to have been combined). The program contains two sessions from suggested solely by our Preservation Section and one session that was a joint proposal from our section and the Visual Materials Section:

Session 2 - Environmental Assessment Technology and Projects for Archives: Major New Developments, Chaired by Mary Wolfskill with presentations by Jim Reilly, Doris Hamburg, and Gregor Trinkaus-Randall (proposed by Gregor Trinkaus-Randall);

Session 17 - Photograph Albums and Scrapbooks: Wherefor and Whereto (proposed by Douglas Haller, Visual Materials Section and cosponsored by the Preservation Section); and Chaired by Jim Burant, with presentations by Doug Haller, Rebecca Johnson Melvin, and Gillian Boal

Session 33 - Teaching Internationally, Preserving Locally: Planning for Worldwide Archival Preservation (proposed by Diane Vogt-O’Connor) with presentations by Steve Dalton, Dianne van der Reyden, and Amparro de Torres.

If there are other sessions on the program from the section, which were missed in this overview, I apologize. In perusing the program, Linda saw several sessions with preservation components:

  • Sessions 1, Documenting Music: Archival Evidence of the Composer's Creative Process
  • Session 4, Electronic Records Tools for the Rest of Us: The Archivist's Workbench
  • Session 12, Archiving the Digital Age: Appraisal and Preservation of Web based Communications
  • Session 16, Real World Strategies for the Management and Preservation of Digital Records
  • Session 23, Emulation as a Digital Preservation Strategy: An Empirical Test
  • Session 29, Rubbernecking at Past Disaster
  • Session 35, Electronic Document and Records Management Systems
  • Session 36, You Can Run But You Can't Hide: Meeting the Challenges of Access to Non traditional Archival Records
  • Session 44, Storage and Management of Color Slides and Transparencies
  • Session 45, Data Storage and Migration
  • Session 52, Moving Archival and Special Collections Materials

In addition to new proposals, any previous proposals which were not fleshed out in time for submission last year, or any which did not make the cut, can be resubmitted for consideration for the 2002 Birmingham, AL meeting. They can be sent to Linda Overman at the Alabama Department of Archives and History, PO Box 300100, Montgomery, AL 36130-0100; Phone: (334) 242-4452 Ext. 229; Fax: (334) 240-3125; E-mail: loverman@archives.

Eli Bambikidis, Publications Committee Co-Chair provided an update on the Preservation Section Publications Committee. She spoke about the work of placing the new bibliographic citations on the Preservation Section Bibliography Website. She talked briefly about the need for assistance in this project.

At the midpoint of the meeting the Section broke into thematic groups, including: audio and video materials, chaired by Doris Hamburg; Digitization and Imaging, chaired by Steve Dalton; Disaster Preparedness, chaired by Dianne van der Reyden; Education, chaired by Cathy Mundale; and Grants and Funding, chaired by Tom Clareson of Amigos. These session chairs were charged with developing program suggestions for the coming year. A number of excellent program suggestions were developed by each section, which will be submitted to SAA for consideration.

The group broke up at 10:00 a.m.

Preservation Section leadership

  • Diane Vogt-O'Connor, Chair (National Arvhices and Records Administration)
  • Anke Hubbard, Vice Chair/Chair-Elect (Illinois Wesleyan University)
  • Glenda Stevens, Member-at-Large
    (Texas Christian University)
  • Susan DuBois, Member-at-Large< (The Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts)
  • Cathy Lynn Mundale, Chair, Education Committee (Atlanta University)
  • Sarah Talley, Chair, Nominating Committee setflower@yahoo
  • Sheila McAlister, Chair, Outreach Committee (University of Georgia)
  • Linda Overman, Chair, Program Committee (Alabama Department of Archives & History)
  • Julie Graham, Web Administrator (University of California, Los Angeles)
  • Clark Center, Newsletter Editor
  • Thomas Connors (2000-2003), Council Liaison (University of Maryland)

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The Massachusetts Experience: Developing and Implementing a
Statewide Preservation Program for Libraries and Archives

by Gregor Trinkaus-Randall, M.L.S., C.A.
Preservation Specialist, Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners

During the mid to late 1980’s Massachusetts embarked on an active program of developing automated resources sharing networks for its libraries. A total of eleven such networks were created and now most libraries in the Commonwealth participate in one. As this trend developed, a number of concerned library professionals in the Boston area approached the director of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) with a proposal to create a staff position to address the preservation of library materials so that they could be shared among libraries. The reasoning behind this request was that resource sharing was an excellent idea, but if the materials were in no condition to be shared, little would occur. As a consequence, the Preservation Specialist position was created in 1988. Although the responsibilities of the MBLC are statutorily directed at libraries (originally only at public and now at multitype), the background and training of the current Preservation Specialist has made it possible to expand the scope of the program to include archives, historical societies, and manuscript repositories.

In many ways, Massachusetts charted new ground in this endeavor. In 1998, only New York had a statewide preservation program in existence, although a number of other states, including Massachusetts, were to develop planning documents for such programs in the early 1990’s, thanks to funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Division of Preservation and Access. Unfortunately, many of the other states’ plans called for the creation of staff position to run their programs, but this has not occurred in most instances. However, Massachusetts had the advantage that the MBLC had committed to a permanent staff position to develop and implement its program. Following a statewide survey (1989) of libraries, town clerks’ offices, historical societies, and manuscript repositories (958/1100 responses (87%), the MBLC identified a number of areas on which to focus. Furthermore, a second survey (1994) focused on the identification of collections’ at risk’ or in need of preservation, as identified by the staff of responding institutions. These responses enhanced the identified areas of focus which included education and training, grant funding, environmental monitoring, disaster preparedness and response, and preservation consultation. In addition, since the Preservation Specialist is also a Certified Archivist, programs have been developed to educate librarians on archival issues, including preservation.

One of the most obvious results of the survey was the clear need for significant education and training opportunities in preservation. Over the years a number of presentations and workshops have been developed and offered either through the MBLC or through the regional library systems on a regular basis. These offerings include the Care and Handling of Library and Archival Materials; Library and Archival Security; two on the Basic Repair of Library and Archival Materials; Local History, Special, and Archival Collections; Commercial Library Binding as a Preservation Option; the Repair of Children’s Materials; Preservation Planning; and most recently one on Grant Writing. Also a significant number of Disaster Preparedness and Recovery workshops are offered each year (see below).

Since the MBLC is responsible for the distribution of federal Library Services and Technology Act funds to libraries in Massachusetts, a number of grant categories have been created to address preservation and archival matters. These include funds for 1) a Preservation Survey, 2) the Preservation of Library and Archival Materials based on the recommendation of the Preservation Survey), 3) Digitizing Historical Resources to provide access to historical materials, and 4) Manuscript Arrangement and Description to provide training to public librarians in processing and making available their manuscript collections. The first category is currently funded at $1,500 with a one-to-one match while the other three are funded at up to $25,000 with the recipient providing one third of the total cost of the project.

Since 1995, the MBLC has purchased 70 digital temperature and relative humidity (RH) dataloggers as well as a thermohygrometer, a light meter, and a UV monitor. In 1996, the statewide Environmental Monitoring Program was initiated. In this program, the MBLC staff installs at least three dataloggers in approximately fifteen institutions in February and again in August. Usually one is installed in the local history/special collections/archives area, one in the main stacks, and one outside. However, depending on the size and focus of the institution, as many as nineteen dataloggers have been installed in one institution at one time. At the time of installation, temperature, RH, light, and UV readings are taken at each site to set a baseline and to inform the staff of current conditions. After five months (July and January), the dataloggers are retrieved, readings are taken again, and the data is downloaded into a computer. Within a couple of months, the participating repositories receive a report that includes general information on the recommended ranges for temperature, RH, light, and UV; graphs of each of the dataloggers as well as graphs of the outside readings superimposed on the internal ones and the internal ones superimposed on each other; an analysis of each of the graphs; and general recommendations for the amelioration of conditions. Furthermore, the data is exported into the Climate Notebook program developed by the staff at the Image Permanence Institute and further visuals are produced to emphasize the impact that the current conditions are having on the materials based on the data provided. To date 188 institutions have participated in this program.

As the result of a fire that destroyed a library in Western Massachusetts in 1996, the MBLC developed its Emergency Assistance Program. Launched in 1998, this program includes four components: training; supplies; technical assistance; and packing, freezing, and drying. Each year the MBLC staff offers between six and twelve oneday disaster preparedness planning workshops throughout the Commonwealth. The focus is on coping with a disaster and on the development of an institutional disaster preparedness plan. A number of these workshops are scheduled by the staff, but others are carried out at the request of individual institutions. The next component includes disaster recovery supplies. The MBLC purchased and distributed one hundred Rescubes, two ReactPaks, and one Min-Max thermohygrometer to each of fifteen libraries throughout the Commonwealth. These supplies are available to be used by any repository in the Commonwealth that suffers a disaster. The only requirements are that they have to pick up the supplies from the library and to return them when they are done. The third component focuses on the ability of the staff of affected institutions to contact either the staff of the regional library systems, the MBLC, or, the Northeast Document Conserva-tion Center (NEDCC), if the others are not available, for technical assistance on how to cope with a disaster when one occurs. The MBLC will cover the cost of a site visit by the NEDCC staff for public libraries, if that is necessary. Finally, the MBLC currently has a contract with Munters Moisture Control to provide for packing, freezing, and drying of library and archival materials in public libraries if the MBLC or NEDCC staff determine that the disaster is beyond the capabilities of the local staff to cope. The MBLC will cover the first $25,000 of this cost.

In addition to these programs, the MBLC staff frequently responds to preservation and archival questions, by telephone, email, or through on-site visits to repositories. These visits may be the result of a workshop attended by someone on the institution’s staff or because there are specific issues that need to be addressed on-site. Furthermore, since there has been an active public library construction program in the Commonwealth, funded in large part with state funds, the staff has frequently been asked to advise on the design of local history and special collections rooms and other preservation issues.

One additional component of the program has been the frequent and growing relationships with other records groups throughout the Commonwealth. These have included the State Archives and Historical Records Advisory Board, the Bay State Historical League, the Town Clerks Association, the Essex National Heritage Commission (ENHC), and the New England Archivists. As a consequence, a growing number of their members have begun to participate in the statewide preservation offerings and have contacted the MBLC for programs specifically tailored for their membership such as a Disaster Preparedness Workshop for the Town Clerks Association and a Library and Archival Security workshop for the ENHC.

Developing and implementing a statewide preservation program for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has involved working with a significant number of institutions and organizations to raise the preservation awareness of library and archival professionals and non-professionals. It has been a long, slow process with its setbacks as well as its steps forward fortunately more of the latter than the former. However, it needs to be noted that the process is never complete. Since preservation is not often a major program of study in library and archival degree programs, many professionals are only minimally aware of the preservation requirements of their materials and buildings. Therefore, it is an education process that never ends. What is gratifying, however, is that there is a growing awareness of preservation issues among library and archival professionals throughout the state as witnessed by the number and types of calls and comments that are received. Each of the above described programs in and ofitself has contributed to this awareness as the overall number of people who have participated in one of the programs has increased.

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Society of American Archivists Preservation Publication Award

Congratulations! to Gregory S. Hunter, winner of the 2001 SAA Preservation Publication Award, for his publication: Preserving Digital Information: A How-To-DoIt Manual. Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2000.

Established in 1993, the award recognizes the author or editor of an outstanding work, published in North America, that advances the theory or practice of preservation in archival institutions. NEH grant. Grants will not be awarded to individuals.

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© Society of American Archivists Preservation Section. Created 14 August 2002