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Subject: Preservation Summit at LC: Partners in Preservation

Preservation Summit at LC: Partners in Preservation

From: Merrily Smith <nppo>
Date: Thursday, April 7, 1994
Dear Colleagues,

The following is a summary of a preservation summit meeting held at the
Library of Congress on March 14, 1994.  Please read through it.  I have
captured what I believe to be the essence of a very thoughtful and
provocative discussion.  We certainly found the summit to be helpful to
LC's preservation planning process.  I don't want the dialog to end
here. If any of you have additional thoughts on what LC should be doing,
and why, please feel free to send those thoughts along.

I am very excited at the prospect of working more closely together with
colleagues in the field and look forward to hearing from you.

Diane Nester Kresh, Acting Director for Preservation, Library of

(11-page document follows)

                             Summary Notes

Monday, March 14, 1994; 9-5 pm


    This summit meeting was part of a comprehensive planning process
    underway at the Library of Congress that seeks to review and
    redefine the mission of LC's preservation program, to link the
    preservation program to other LC programs, e.g., acquisitions and
    access, and to provide a sturdy rationale for the Library's
    preservation activities.

Summit Goal

    To explore the role of the Library of Congress (LC) in the national
    preservation program by examining what we are and should be doing;
    assessing whether we are doing it well; discussing what, if
    anything, could be improved; and suggesting how best to make


    The 75 invited participants (all from the US) included preservation
    administrators, preservation educators, research scientists,
    librarians, archivists, conservators, and private consultants from
    universities, national libraries, museums, regional conservation
    centers, and standards organizations.


    Library of Congress resources are slim, and only through cooperative
    efforts can the goal be achieved of preserving the materials in the
    nation's libraries and archives.


    Five topic areas (selected by the Library of Congress) were reviewed
    and analyzed in concurrent breakout sessions, then discussed in a
    concluding plenary session.Questions were distributed to
    participants in advance to help focus the discussion.  The
    discussion topics were:

    1.  Education and Outreach
        Merrily Smith, Chair (Asst. National Preservation Program
        Officer, LC)

    2.  Selection for Preservation
        William Schenck, Chair (Collections Policy Coordinator, LC)

    3.  Inter-institutional Cooperation
        Tamara Swora, Chair (Preservation Microfilming Officer, LC)

    4.  Research and Testing
        Barclay Ogden, Chair (Preservation Officer, Univ. of California,

    5.  Standards and Practices
        Margaret Byrnes, Chair (Preservation Officer, National Library
        of Medicine)



    1.  What kind of education and outreach programs are needed by the
        national and international library and archives communities?
        How would you prioritize them?

    2.  What role should LC play in the national/international arena of
        education and outreach?

    3.  As a colleague, where do you think the Library should focus its
        efforts in this area in order to optimize its resources and
        still serve the national preservation community?


    LC should focus on its own needs first, but should still serve as a
    clearinghouse for preservation information.  It should not, however,
    bear the *sole* responsibility for educating the field and providing
    national/international information services.  Every effort should be
    made to work cooperatively with other organizations to develop and
    provide information services.


    1.  Publish, publish, publish

    Assume a leadership role in the management, organization and
    dissemination of information.  A precedent has been set for LC to
    provide information; and with LC publications the community has an
    authority to which it can refer. Publications need not be perfectly
    polished if so doing slows the release of information.  Identify the
    areas of LC expertise and publish information relating to them.

    2.  Define focus

    LC can take a leadership role in one of two ways.  It can declare
    itself a leader in certain areas; or it can work hard and achieve
    success in these areas so others will recognize and declare it as a
    leader in the field.

    3.  Draw on the resources and talents of others

    Too much to do, too little time.  Take advantage of the efforts of
    others.  For example, if the Northeast Document Conservation Center
    (NEDCC) has a good public information leaflet, use that instead of
    creating another.  More publications and other ventures should be
    cooperatively developed.  Draw upon the expertise of others.
    Everybody out there already has an idea about where to look for
    information; get in touch.

    4.  Get active in educating preservation professionals

    LC should get more active in the preservation education of library
    professionals, collaborating with other institutions if necessary.
    The LC video on library binding is well regarded, not because it's
    from LC but because its content is the best.  The preservation
    community needs this type of training video for other subjects.

    5.  Serve as a model for the management and organization of
        preservation programs

    LC can be a model of preservation management. Its expertise and
    experience in program management can be useful to smaller programs,
    or those just beginning.

    6.  Collect and provide information about non-paper based formats

    7.  Act as a clearinghouse for preservation information

    Produce leaflets in coordination with other institutions.  Poll the
    preservation community first to determine what is needed, then agree
    jointly about who is best able to meet the need.

    8.  Raise the level of preservation awareness

    First, educate the Congress and senior decision-makers. Use the LC
    Center for the Book as the vehicle for change.  Ensure that
    preservation is integral to all Library activities.  Managers and
    administrators need different information than technicians.  Develop
    and promulgate institution-wide policies that support the changes we
    recommend.  Next, get through to the folks who handle materials the
    most. Develop in-house training for all Library staff and share the
    techniques and information with other institutions. Finally, inform
    the public and users of the collections about the dangers of
    destroying our cultural resources.

    9.  Work collaboratively with other institutions; organize and host
        national and international conferences

    LC can co-host or co-sponsor conferences with other local
    institutions because Washington is a convenient location for most
    people in the east. Plan annual conferences jointly with the
    National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the
    Conservation Analytical Laboratory (CAL), Smithsonian Institution.

    10. Work with other institutions to establish preservation policies

    11. Determine preservation priorities for LC collections

    Identify LC strengths, recognize the strengths of others, i.e.,
    NARA's expertise in storage, Smithsonian's exhibition and display.

    12. Ensure that LC staff resources are adequate to meet the mission
        and stated preservation goals

    13. Promote in-kind exchanges of staff as a means of funding
        collaborative efforts

    14  Promote staff development and career enhancement to ensure a
        more-knowledgeable and responsive staff

    Follow the lead of others.  For example, the Conservation Center for
    Art and Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) has days allotted for individual
    research.  Grant funds can be used to support each staff member at
    one meeting or conference per year.  The Library should also
    increase cross-training opportunities in preservation.



    1.  Because it functions as the national library, is there any way
        in which the Library of Congress should be approaching selection
        for preservation differently from other libraries?

    2.  How, if at all, should the Library work to enhance the
        development of the bibliographic infrastructure in support of
        selection for preservation?


    LC MUST make some tough decisions about its collecting policies,
    including, perhaps, narrowing its scope.  One way to accomplish this
    would be to work in concert with other institutions worldwide to
    develop cooperative projects that support and complement the
    research community. For example, if LC is actively collecting in a
    given area, then other major libraries should not.


    1.  Initiate more cooperative programs

    2.  Focus on its collecting strengths

    In today's economic environment, choices must be made.  The Library
    of Congress should identify and focus on such collecting strengths

    (a) collections for which LC has a unique responsibility (e.g.,
        American imprints or legislative branch federal government

    (b) special format collections;

    (c) unique materials that LC holds from all over the world;

    (d) materials for which LC has assumed special collecting

    (e) subject areas where LC has special responsibility to collect
        levels four and five research materials (as defined in the RLG
        Conspectus), preserving the intellectual content only.

    3.  Work with other institutions to define artifactual value

    LC should create a nationally constituted task force charged to
    define artifactual value by consensus.  Possible action steps

    (a) Conduct a survey of the academic community to help determine
        collection priorities, ALA, AHA, SAA, etc.

    (b) Develop a program that encourages scholars to participate in
        reviewing the collections and helps staff identify priorities
        for preservation.

    4.  Disseminate information

    To avoid duplication of effort, LC should communicate to other
    institutions its selection for preservation priorities.  LC
    preservation selection should be done in cooperation with other
    institutions.  LC must plan ahead, share selection for preservation
    policies and decisions, and actively communicate with the community
    so that it no longer "works in a vacuum."  To be useful to the
    community, the dissemination of information must be timely and

    5.  Track its reformatting activities

    An active program is needed that identifies what others are doing so
    all can make more responsible choices.  LC should work with the
    National Brittle Book Program, searching information, so efforts are
    not duplicated.



    1.  Should the Library of Congress expand its cooperative activities
        in preservation microfilming and digital imaging?  If so, how?

    2.  Has the Library of Congress been an effective cooperative
        partner? If not, how can we improve?

    3.  What role should LC play in the development of cooperative
        national and international projects? (Ex: shared bibliographic
        and treatment information, publications, scientific research,


    LC doesn't have to do it all.  It needs to recognize its areas of
    strength and assume leadership in those areas.  LC also needs to
    recognize the strengths of others and allow them to be the official
    "experts" in their particular areas. LC must work with others in the
    preservation community in assigning roles and responsibilities in
    support of the national preservation effort.  LC needs to "reach out
    and touch" in order to "stay in touch."


    1.  LC should articulate its preservation priorities

    By articulating its preservation priorities and letting the
    preservation community know what it is going to do, communication
    will be fostered.

    2.  Assume the role of an enabler

    With the aid of Congress, the Library of Congress is in a unique
    position to mount an effective platform for cooperation in
    preservation. In most countries there is one institution responsible
    for both national collection and policy.  In the United States, no
    single institution is responsible for national preservation policy
    and collections preservation.  However, LC does have a special role
    to play because of its responsibilities and proximity to Congress.
    In fact, LC's activities are sometimes directly mandated by the

    3.  Increase visibility of LC at national and international meetings

    LC needs to become a catalyst for action.  The more it works
    cooperatively with others, the greater the likelihood that it can
    attract funding.

    4.  Increase outreach efforts

    Seek alternative funding to assist in outreach efforts.  Explore
    creative means of benefiting from the expertise of colleague
    institutions in mounting outreach efforts that will best serve the

    5.  Promote greater awareness of LC preservation research

    LC researchers need to publish the results of their research and to
    publish information about works in progress.  It should also be
    aware that other institutions will make management decisions based
    on whatever research LC is conducting.  LC should use the Internet
    to communicate and share information about its research activities
    and other preservation work.

    6.  Coordinate defining the preservation agenda

    There are areas where LC can be leader because of its facilities,
    staff, collections and resources.  LC can provide leadership and
    technical support to other institutions who do not have access to
    resources such as a Research and Testing Office.

    7.  Initiate cooperative research projects

    LC should provide leadership in coordinating initiatives that would
    benefit the preservation community.  Examples of such projects are:

    (a) maintaining an online database of bibliographic citations for
        preservation literature;

    (b) coordinating the testing of preservation supplies and materials;

    (c) encouraging state libraries and other state organizations to
        contribute information about their preservation activities to
        such publications as ABBEY NEWSLETTER and CAN;

    (d) sharing technical and operational manuals and guidelines

    (e) developing and giving workshops to broader audiences;

    (f) linking LC to regional conservation and preservation centers as
        means of disseminating information;

    (g) teaching conservators and other preservation specialists at
        regional centers to be trainers at smaller institutions;

    (h) hosting a conference on "Developing a National Preservation
        Program" that brings together institutions with both developed
        and emerging preservation programs;

    (i) coordinating and managing a national cooperative serials filming
        project; and

    (j) preparing publications jointly with other institutions or

    8.  Ensure that LC is the library of record and the repository of
        those materials that others can not preserve

    LC should step back and see what is happening and where it's
    happening, then identify what preservation issues it should
    concentrate on, AND THEN get the word out as to what it's focusing
    on so other institutions could put that area lower on the list.

    9.  Articulate preservation priorities and set national standards

    Play a leadership role in standards development.  Coordinate and
    maintain information about preservation standards, research, and
    materials testing. Develop a database of international scope that
    will identify ongoing standards development activities (including
    individuals responsible) for all library and archives collections
    formats.  Keep this information widely available and maintain it.

    10.  Serve as a bridge to the international preservation community

    Enable staff to travel and consult at international institutions.



    1.  Where should LC focus its research resources? book/paper or
        audio/moving image/computer files?

    2.  How should LC's R&T program interact with non-federal research
        and testing programs?

    3.  What role should LC's R&T program play in the national and
        international preservation community?


    The Research and Testing Office (R&T) must directly support the
    Library's mission.  A review of the work of R&T noted an historical
    emphasis on paper and book needs, though increasingly there has been
    recognition of the preservation needs of other media and formats as
    evidenced by the decision to hire a photographic scientist and an
    electrical engineer.  There is a need to bring about greater
    awareness in LC, and in the Preservation Directorate, of the
    relevance of the work performed by R&T.

    Three key activities of R&T were identified:

    1.  Provision of technical advice The provision of technical advice
        to staff in-house and outside of LC improves communication and
        promotes advocacy for the field.

     2. Testing of supplies

     3. Preservation research and scientific advancement of the field


    1.  Contribute to an integrated approach to preservation within LC

    (a) Identifying, assessing, and explicating technologies that
        facilitate access and preservation strategies;

    (b) Providing testing for all media in the LC collections; and

    (c) Centralizing quality assurance and control within LC;
        representing LC in the library and research communities;
        coordinating the development of specifications; and
        participating actively in the development of standards.

    2.  Establish criteria for the selection of research projects

    Research should be undertaken when it facilitates continued access
    to the collections; addresses preservation needs of the collections;
    anticipates solutions to problems of access and preservation through
    the evaluation of available and emerging technologies; improves
    present practices; supports standards development; supports the
    preservation community; and addresses the specific needs of LC while
    advancing and supporting preservation activities.



    1.  What role should the Library of Congress play in the development
        of national and international standards, guidelines and

    2.  As the National Library, is it appropriate for the Library of
        Congress to apply different standards levels to the preservation
        of its collections?

    3.  Should the Library of Congress' research program confine its
        work to projects that support the development and review of
        national and international standards?


    Standards work is tedious, but vital.  Support of standards
    activities should be considered an integral part of LC's mission.
    Standards work is one of the ways in which the Library can meet its
    preservation needs. Standards work should not be curtailed at the
    expense of something else. Practice has shown that lack of adherence
    to standards increases the long-term costs.   Standards don't exist
    in isolation; they are related to research and the execution of
    different preservation options.


    1.  Determine which standards activities are key to its work, and
        provide funding and support for them

    2.  Link standards activities to mission of research and testing

    3.  Communicate standards activities to preservation community

    4.  Work cooperatively with other institutions on the development of

    5.  Seek alternative means of funding standards activities

    6.  Raise the level of awareness about the importance of standards

    7.  Influence the decision makers

    8.  Provide leadership for standards development in areas where
        standards do not now exist, e.g. magnetic media and
        environmental storage for all media

    9.  Conduct cost-benefit analysis of participation in standards

Merrily Smith
National Preservation Program Office
Library of Congress (LMG07)
Washington, DC 20540-4540

                  Conservation DistList Instance 7:71
                   Distributed: Friday, April 8, 1994
                        Message Id: cdl-7-71-002
Received on Thursday, 7 April, 1994

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