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Subject: Digital image project funded by NEH

Digital image project funded by NEH

From: Barbara E. Berger <beb1>
Date: Friday, April 1, 1994
Cornell University Library Receives National Endowment for the
Humanities Award for Digital Preservation Project

Cornell University Library Department of Preservation and Conservation
has received a $319,879 grant from the National Endowment for the
Humanities (NEH) to conduct a research and demonstration project to test
the feasibility of using digital image technology to create microfilm
that will meet national preservation standards for quality and image
permanence. This demonstration project builds on ground-breaking work
conducted at Cornell to investigate the use of digital technology in
library applications. For the past four years, Cornell and the Xerox
Corporation have collaborated in a project to test a prototype system
for recording brittle books as digital images and producing, on demand,
high quality paper replacements. Of equal interest has been the role of
digital technology in providing networked access to library resources.
These investigations have also been supported by the Commission on
Preservation and Access, Sun Microsystems, Inc., and the New York State
Program for the Conservation and Preservation of Library Research

While digital technology holds great promise as a means for preserving
the contents of library materials, many issues associated with the
long-term accessibility of information stored only in digital image form
have yet to be resolved. These center on the obsolescence associated
with the rapid changes occurring in the development of hardware/software
system design, a lack of service bureau experience with library
applications, and issues of permanency and standards. Until such issues
can be addressed, the use of digital technology for preservation
purposes should be accompanied by the production of an archival copy on
a proven medium, such as microfilm. To this end, Cornell University
developed its "digital to microfilm conversion" project to determine the
viability of such an approach.

The 1,500 volumes to be scanned in this two-year project, which begins
April 1, 1994, comprise the retrospective core literature of
agricultural economics and rural sociology. This is one of the seven
disciplines of the agricultural sciences identified in the Core
Historical Literature Project of Albert R. Mann Library at Cornell. The
core literature of agriculture was identified using a combination of
qualitative and quantitative methods. The selection process included
consultation with a Scholars Advisory Board and the establishment of
preservation priorities by panels of academic reviewers. A key goal of
the agricultural community's Natural Preservation Plan for Agricultural
Literature is to preserve the core historical literature of all seven
disciplines via microfilm and to provide enhanced access via digital

This project will make use of a Technical Advisory Committee, consisting
of nationally recognized experts in the areas of preservation
management, micrographics, imaging science, and standards development.
It will also include the identification and selection of vendors who can
convert the high resolution digital images scanned at Cornell into
microfilm that meets nationally recognized preservation standards. The
results of this study will be disseminated to major research libraries,
standards setting bodies, and library organizations and consortia with a
particular interest in the use of emerging technologies. This project is
a complement to Yale University's "Project Open Book," which also was
awarded a grant by NEH, that will demonstrate the cost and processes
involved in producing digital images from 10,000 volumes on microfilm.

This project is a cooperative effort involving staff in the Department
of Preservation and Conservation, the Albert R. Mann Library, and the
Library Technology Division. Anne R. Kenney, Associate Director,
Department of Preservation and Conservation, will serve as the Principal
Investigator. For more information, please contact

    Anne R. Kenney
    Associate Director
    Department of Preservation and Conservation
    214 Olin Library
    Cornell University
    Ithaca, NY 14853.
    ark3 [at] cornell__edu

                  Conservation DistList Instance 7:69
                   Distributed: Friday, April 1, 1994
                        Message Id: cdl-7-69-006
Received on Friday, 1 April, 1994

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