The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 12, Number 4
Jun 1988

House Subcommittee Hears About Preservation

Congressman Sidney Yates (D, Ill.), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies, of the House Appropriations Committee, has become interested in the en-tire range of preservation: prospective as well as retrospective (i.e., use of long-lasting materials for books and records, to prevent deterioration of library and archival materials in the future, as well as saving what is already deteriorated). In a hearing on the budgets of the Institute of Museum Services and the Arts and Humanities Endowments on April 21, he set aside half a day for presentations and questions on preservation of books and paper.

Microfilming And Other Preservation Activities

One of the unusual things about Congressman Yates is that he keeps looking for ways to make preservation efforts more successful, and asking intelligent questions to get to the bottom of matters. He communicated with many of the people present at the bearing beforehand, either directly or through his assistants. It was at his request that Lynne Cheney, Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), presented a bold five-year "capability budget" for the Office of Preservation, showing what the Office could do if it had the money. The figures rose a few million each year, ending in FY 1993 with four or five times the present level of funding, which has remained static since the Office opened three years ago. Ms. Cheney made the same request she made at the hearings under Pat Williams last year (AN, June 1987, p. 51), that the government not give NEH more than the $4.5 million requested, because federal funding for preservation should be limited!

The figures for FY 1993 are:

FY 1993: $20.3 million capability level

Warren (Jim) Haas of the Council on Library Resources said that Mr. Yates' interest had encouraged the field to think more aggressively about addressing the backlog of brittle-book microfilming to be done. There was general agreement that private funds would be forthcoming to make major federal assistance unnecessary.

Other matters were covered more briefly: deacidification, cooperation among institutions, preservation needs of state and local archives (Larry Hackman, State Archivist of New York, suggested that the federal government provide 1/4 of the $470 million that will be needed for this), and the importance of federal grants, especially for small museums.

William R. Leisher, Executive Director of Conservation for the Art Institute of Chicago, was there in his capacity as Vice-Chairman of the National Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Property (NIC), and submitted five pages of testimony, the last page of which was a draft summary of how adequately needs are being addressed in the various fields of conservation/preservation, with respect to five major aspects of each field. Copies can probably be obtained from the NIC (A & I 225, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC 20560, 202/357-2295). Here is a simplified version of it, showing "Archives and Libraries" as the second best-supported specialty. The higher the number, the more adequately needs are being addressed.


Public Aware

Prof'l Info

Prof'l Research Training







Basic & Applied

Analytical Services

Historic Preservation 4 2 1 1 1 1 0 2
Archeology &Ethnography 0 3 1 1 0 1 0 0
Archives &Libraries 2 4 3 3 3 4 2 2
Fine Arts 2 4 4 5 4 4 2 3
History 1 3 1 2 1 0 0 1
Natural History 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

The big question of whether that giant NEH preservation budget will be approved may be settled as early as midsummer. Readers who want to help it to happen can submit lots of well-considered preservation grant proposals, because NEH finds it easier to justify a budget increase if they have something to spend the money on. If they can say, 'We had to turn down 30% of the high-quality proposals we received last year because we did not have the money to fund them," their budget is likely to be increased. (This goes for all the granting agencies, probably.)

Prospective Preservation: Use Of Alkaline Paper

This was the first time that alkaline paper has received extended attention in a government hearing. Mr. Yates asked what could be done to encourage the use of acid-free paper; the general consensus among the paper manufacturers was that it was a matter of consumer demand, which currently is very modest. He then asked whether the industry could supply enough if the government started using it tomorrow. (The participants who supplied reports of the proceedings to this Newsletter differ about whether the answer was Yes or No.) Someone said that printers are conservative and do not like changes. It was also pointed out that the American Paper Institute was not likely to promote alkaline paper because its members who made acid paper would not appreciate it.

A staff member of the Congressional Joint Committee on Printing (which sets government paper standards) noted that recent legislation required that a portion of the paper used by the federal government must be from recycled paper and questioned whether this would conflict with the requirements being discussed. There was general agreement that recycled paper could be made to meet the standards.

Somebody (Mr. Yates, perhaps) suggested that tax incentives night be used to encourage conversion to alkaline papermaking. Several bills pending on the "moral rights" of artists night be used to encourage the use of alkaline paper. Copyright copies deposited in the Library of Congress night be required to be on acid-free paper.

Barbara Goldsmith, author and Trustee of the New York Public Library, spoke about her and other authors' efforts to ensure that their books were published on permanent paper. She also urged greater public awareness efforts as a means of enlisting private sector support, and in this connection several people spoke favorably of the Alkaline Paper Advocate, which like the Abbey Newsletter is published by Abbey Publications.

Other people present, not mentioned above, included Congressmen Ralph Regula, Pat Williams and Thomas J. Downey, Varten Gregorian and Paul Fasana (NYPL), James H. Billington and Peter Sparks (Library of Congress), Patricia M. Battin (Commission on Preservation and Access), Duane Webster (ARL), William G. Bowen and Neil Rudenstein (Mellon Foundation), Carol Henderson (ALA), Billy E. Frey (Emory University), Sidney Verba (Harvard University Libraries), Trudy Peterson (NARA), Ann Russell (NEDCC), Rolland Aubey (Nekoosa), William Novak (Glatfelter) and representatives of about five paper distribution companies.

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