The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 14, Number 6
Oct 1990




Film Foundation Set $30 Million Goal for Restoration

Saving old movies mast be like saving old books: the job is so large and so complex, and there is such a backlog, that there is enough for everyone to do, and each person or institution contributes what they are best at, or exploits the opportunities open to them that are not open to others. Every year or so the professional and public media carry a story on a new group or alliance of groups that is "spearheading" the cause of American film preservation, but the story doesn't tell where the new group fits into the big picture, so it is rather hard to sort out.

The separate efforts covered in the Abbey Newsletter in the last few years have been: 1) the National Center for Film and Video Preservation (July 1987, p. 75), 2) the National Film Preservation Board, which chooses films worthy of preservation (May 1989, p. 27), 3) the Film Preservation Program administered by the National Center (above; Dec. 1989, p. 133), 4) the Film, and Television Archives Advisory Council, not reported yet, and 5) now, the Film Foundation, an effort by eight filmmakers (Martin Scorsese, pres.; George Lucas, Sydney Pollack, Woody Allen, Francis Coppola, Stanley Kubrick, Robert Redford and Steven Spielberg) to save old movies.

The Film Foundation has set an initial goal to raise at least $30 million for joint restoration projects by studios and film archives. It will determine the priorities for the films to be preserved and promote the gala premiers of restored movies to advertise the effort. Scorsese and Spielberg have been visiting studios recently to discuss the state of preservation of each company's holdings. Paramount has recently announced that it has constructed archival facilities and set up an ambitious program to inventory, restore and preserve its film and TV library. (Just imagine the reaction if archivists or librarians were to visit institutions around the country and discuss the preservation of their holdings!)

What drives all these efforts is the sentimental hold that a good story, in movie form, has upon the viewer. We are all fond of our favorite movies, and don't like to hear that they have faded away or been lost for good, never to be seen again. The value of the film to society, in the case of scientific and technical film, seems never to be considered. Scientific and technical films are very rarely mentioned in connection with film preservation, but they must be fading away at the same rate.


Recycled and Permanent Paper

On August 1 and 2, the House Administration Subcommittee on Procurement and Printing, chaired by Rep. Jim Bates (D-CA), held hearings on HR 4523, the Congressional Recycling Act of 1990, to require Congress to purchase recycled paper products to the greatest extent practicable. One of the witnesses, Thomas Norris of P. H. Glatfelter Co., representing the American Paper Institute, noted that acid-free recycled paper was available and that the requirements for the use of recycled and permanent paper could be accommodated without conflict.

ALA and the Association of Research Libraries submitted a joint statement for the hearing record, urging the subcommittee to make clear that the goals of increasing the use of recycled paper and increasing the use of permanent paper are technically compatible and not mutually exclusive. The statement cited several congressional and Government Printing Office actions in support of permanent paper, and recommended inclusion of a specific reference to the use of permanent paper in HR 4523.


Columbia Program Has 32 More Students in the Pipeline

Three years from now, when the School of Library Service at Columbia University closes, presumably 17 conservators now enrolled will have graduated, about six per year. Since preservation administrator students are allowed to enroll part-time, it is harder to anticipate when they will graduate, but there are 15 of them enrolled at present. More may register in 1991 and 1992.


Preserving Software

Under the auspices of the Columbia University School of Library Service, a group of 14 individuals representing organizations with widely varying interests in the many aspects of microcomputer software gathered for three days of discussions devoted to the "Preservation of Microcomputer Software."

The suspension was held March 23-25. The discussion quickly widened in scope from microcomputer software to software for all types of computers (micro, mini and mainframe), data files created on computers, as well as manuscripts, working papers, business records and any other materials created during the development, production or distribution of a software program. The participants concluded that a fairly small national center would be sufficient to collect and preserve software and related materials, provided the decision were made to develop a consortium of existing institutions and interested groups already active in various aspects of the field. There was general consensus to recommend the creation of such a consortium with a central headquarters group to coordinate the affairs of the members and "to promote and coordinate research in the history of software."


Nondestructive Measure of Book Paper Strength Studied

The Institute of Paper Conservation will act as the Cooperating Body in a research project being undertaken under the direction of Dr. Derek Priest at the Paper Science Department of the University of Manchester Institute of Science & Technology (MST).

The aim of the project is to establish the theory and practical principles for a method of determining nondestructively the mechanical properties of paper in a book. (The method currently used almost everywhere is to fold a corner back and forth by hand--very inexact. The fold test gives quite variable results even when it is done in a paper lab after the paper has been properly conditioned. Still, it may give a good idea of how the paper will stand up to normal use.)

A portable ultrasonic sensor, used with a portable computer, may be developed, based an the sensors already in use in paper mills for online readings of paper strength while it is still on the machine. A graduate student will work on the project for three years from September 1990. For more information see the September issue of Paper Conservation News, P. 2.


News from the Provincial Archives of Manitoba

It seems there is always something doing in Winnipeg at the Provincial Archives. In 1984 it was the state-of-the-art fumigator/freeze-drier, made to order just as ethylene oxide lost favor as a fumigant; in 1988 it was converted for use with C02, and the freeze-drier made "almost operational" (AN June 1988 p. 62); in 1989 they were sold some "lignin-free" board that was full of lignin (Oct., p. 101). The latest dispatch, from p. 24 of the September issue of the IIC-CG Bulletin, says, in part,

The vacuum freeze-dry/fumigation chamber has been fitted with a new programmable controller and simplified program. A combination of C02and high vacuum is used for insect control. It has come in useful for such emergencies as a set of ministry files that had been voided upon by persons unknown and several hundred books and files that had been stored and forgotten in a partially open warehouse for 60 years.


Fast New Way to Copy Tested at Cornell

Cornell University, Xerox Corporation, aid the Commission on Preservation and Access are cooperating on a pilot project to test the usefulness of digital recording of books by scanning them. One thousand volumes from Cornell's Olin Library will be scanned into a digital-image storage system over an 18-month period. The technology, it is hoped, will combine the storage and duplication advantages of microfilm and the usability of paper reproductions, while adding transmission capabilities not available with either. The purpose of the project is to assess the cost-effectiveness of the digital recording process; the criteria for selecting materials to be preserved; and methods of cataloging, searching, and retrieving stored materials. [From the September Library Journal, p. 1541



OCLC Online Computer Library Center, (OCLC) and the MidAtlantic Preservation Service (MAPS) have signed a letter of intent that could lead, following negotiations, to the acquisition of MAPS by OCLC-. Both organizations see the acquisition as an opportunity to broaden the services they offer.

MAPS, a nonprofit organization, is engaged in quality preservation microfilming for archives, historical societies, libraries, and museums. OCLC, a nonprofit membership organization, operates an international computer network used by more than 10,000 libraries in the United States and 30 other countries. They hope to complete the transaction in the fall of 1990.


Unusual Education Programs


Readers' Digest Helps Soviet Library

With an initial start-up grant from the Readers' Digest of $135,000, the Library of Congress is assisting the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences Library (BAN), Leningrad, establish a phased conservation system concerned with the preservation of material from the Carl Baer foreign-language collection, which was severely damaged by fire and water in February 1988. [From the LC Information Bulletin, June 18, 1990. The story of the fire is in the June 1988 issue of this Newsletter.]


An Italian Training Program in Paper Conservation

The ICCROM Newsletter for June reports that Marina L. Regni has been named Technical Director of a training program for paper conservation at Aosta, Italy, by the local authorities. She has arranged for outside students, apart from the 11 permanent participants, to be allowed to attend a number of the technical courses in 1990-92. Requests should be addressed to the Regione Autonoma Valle d'Aosta, Soprinte0enza ai Beni Culturali, pza. Narbonne 3, I-11100 Aosta, Italy.


Deterioration Makes News in Other Contexts


Bad News Not True

Recently four rumors have been going around, all of then false. Taking them one at a time:


Canadian Archives has National Conservation Strategy

The Canadian Council of Archives (CCA) was founded in 1985 to provide leadership and coordination for the evolving Canadian archival system. One of the first things it did was to fund a needs assessment of 627 provincial and territorial archives. Conservation (i.e., preservation) came out second in priority in both the short and the long term priorities lists. At the Council's request, the provincial and territorial councils drew up regional conservation strategies by January 1989. A summary document, "The National Strategic Conservation Plan," was compiled from these documents and presented to government ministers and deputy ministers in the fall of 1989. The government agreed to provide $1 million if the provinces and territories would do the same; they did; and the next move is up to the federal government. [Condensed from the July SAA Newsletter]


OCLC Outlines its Preservation Program

OCLC is a nonprofit computer library service and research organization whose computer network and products link more than 10,000 libraries in 39 countries, by its own description. It is in a position to do a lot of good in preservation, where information and communication are the by which things get done, and where people prefer to ask their preservation questions of people they already know and have a working relationship with. Its advisory committee, RONDAC (Regional OCLC Network Directors Advisory Committee) has an Ad Hoc Committee on Preservation, which announced ii June that it had selected Margaret Child as its consultant to identify OCLC members' preservation needs and develop a plan to meet those needs.

The organizational picture is confusing because there are so many players: OCLC, RONDAC, OCLC-affiliated networks, and OCLC members, not to mention NEH, CPA, RLG, the Library of Congress, and the Ohio preservation group, which has had a number of names: Ohio Cooperative Conservation Information Office (1986), Ohio Conservation Consortium (1990) and Ohio Preservation Council (1990). However, Margaret Child will be able to figure it all out and explain it to us.

The preservation program will have three parts: bibliographic control, research efforts, and programmatic alliances. Preservation information will be made available in the Online Union Catalog in several ways (queuing, prospective cataloging of books to be microfilmed, and exchange of tapes with RLG, etc.); a brittle book survey in Ohio academic libraries and an investigation of digitization for preservation; and activities such as training, consultation, coordination, and grant procurement. For more information call Phil Schiever of RONDAC, 614/764-6144.


Preservation Office Librarian Recognized for Public Service

When Carole Zimmerman saved a rare comic book collection from ruin, according to a news item in the September American Librarian (p. 710), little did she suspect she would become the subject of a national "My Favorite Bureaucrat" search. Bestselling author Matthew Lesko conducted the search for his company, Information USA, offering a prize of $5000 to the person nominating the best example of a public servant, and $500 for runners-up.

Zimmerman, head of the Preservation office Library at the Library of Congress, had earlier told student David Muellenhoff from the University of California/Berkeley that the plastic in which he had been storing his valuable comic books was intensely destructive to paper. She explained the latest research, clarified deceptive advertisements, and saved Muellenhoff hundreds of dollars in potential losses.

For nominating Zimmerman, the student won $500.

(No information is provided on who got the $5000 prize.)


New York State is Able to Increase Preservation Aid

Legislation signed by New York State Governor Mario M. Cuomo on July 31 increases aid for preservation and conservation of endangered research materials in the state's 11 comprehensive research libraries from the current $90,000 per year to $102,000 in 1991-92, $115,000 in 1992-93, and $126,000 in 1993-94. Total preservation/conservation expenditures, now at $1.8 million, will grow to $2 million, $2.1 million, and $2.2 million over the next three years. The legislation will become effective April 1, 1991. [From the CPA Newsletter]


Massachusetts Passes a Theft and Mutilation Law

On June 8 the governor of Massachusetts signed into law "An Act Relative to the Theft and Mutilation of Library Materials and Property" which amended sections 99 and 100 of Chapter 266 of the General Laws. Imprisonment for not more than five years and fines of not more than $25,000 are provided for theft, and a maximum fine of $500 plus the value of the property for not returning overdue books. The original law was ripe for amendment, because it had been passed in 1895. The task force of librarians and manuscript curators that drafted the legislation collected similar laws from other states last year. Of the 42 responding states, 36 or 38 had such laws.

For more information on the task force's work, contact Gregor Trinkaus-Randall, Collection Management Consultant, Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, 648 Bear-on St., Boston, MA 02215 (617/267-9400).

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