The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 14, Number 7
Nov 1990

Preservation Planning Here and There

The final report of the Florida needs assessment project is out. Although its scope is limited to library preservation, it is 118 pages long. Most of it is taken up with materials related to the 84-item questionnaire sent out to 516 academic and public libraries, for which the response rate was 72.5%. John DePew, the project director, attributes this high rate to the use of methods described in Don A. Dillman's 1978 book, Mail and Telephone Surveys; The Total Design Method (New York, Wiley). Not unexpectedly, the most serious preservation problem by far was seen as environmental control. The fourth most serious was mold, and the seventh was pests and insects. Yet less than two thirds of the libraries ever monitored the environment in the stacks, perhaps because they did not know of anything that could be done about high temperature and relative humidity. Brittleness and the need for deacidification were problem up there near the top, but were plainly outranked by environmental considerations. In the answers to Question 53, "What are the preservation services in which your library would be interested?" five of the top eight services were information-related (consulting, information, newsletter, online searches, and on-site training), but few libraries said they would use these services if they had to pay for them, even at cost. They were much more willing to pay for disaster assistance, fumigation, and training materials. Only 37 of the libraries responding had a preservation department. This is consistent with the general impression given by the survey responses, that there is certainly a lot of work to be done in Florida. If the state library (one of the sponsors of the study) takes the lead, and new funds are available through Chapter III of the Library Services and Construction Act (the other sponsor), a good start can be made. For more information, contact John N. DePew, Florida State University, School of Library and Information Science, Tallahassee, FL 32313.

. The AMIGOS Bibliographic Council, Inc. (which is, or will be, to the American Southwest what SOLINET is to the Southeast) was awarded a $160,000 grant from NEH to provide information, training and consultation to libraries and archives in Arizona, Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. As with SOLINET, AMIGOS will guide and support state preservation plans for member states. Of the five states to receive NEH-funded services from AMIGOS, only Texas is known to be working toward an NEH-funded statewide plan. Details from AMIGOS, 11300 North Central Expressway, Suite 321, Dallas, TX 75243.

Among the NEH Office of Preservation grants announced August 30 are the following:

  1. University of California at Berkeley (Barclay Ogden), for a conservation training program for research libraries - $105,085

  2. American Institute for Conservation (Karen Kittredge), Paper Conservation Catalog - $12,559

  3. SOLINET (Jane Pairo), the SOLINET Preservation Program $450,000

  4. Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (Gregor Trinkaus-Randall), the development of a statewide preservation plan - $35,580

  5. Nebraska Library Commission (Katherine Walter), the development of a state preservation plan for Nebraska $33,350

  6. Columbia University (Allert Brown-Gort), Preservation and Conservation Education Programs - $349,140 (approved match $200,000)

  7. North Carolina Preservation Consortium (Harlan Green), the development of a statewide preservation plan $41,000 (approved match $9,000)

  8. AMIGOS (see above paragraph, this story)

That only totals $1.2m out of a total of $7.2M grants from that office. Most of the rest was for microfilming projects.

The Office of Preservation's 1990 budget was for $17.4M. It also funds and administers the U.S. Newspaper Program; recently established the National Heritage Preservation Program (which doesn't cover books and records); and is still selling "Slow Fires," for which it was a major funder. The next application deadline is December 1. Write NEH Office of Preservation, Room 802, 1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20506 (202/786-0570).

The newly formed Australian Council of Library and Information Services has a Preservation Task Force that brought out a program report in 1989, "Preserving Australia's Documentary Heritage." The authors are Jan Lyall and Janine Schmidt. Its 35 recommendations are sorted into high, medium and low priority categories, with a time frame and the name of the organization responsible for each, which is reminiscent of the ARL/OMS preservation plan format. Earlier efforts to design and implement preservation plans on a national scale, or to do the groundwork for them, are reviewed, and the program summarized. The development of preservation in Australian libraries is generally behind those in North America and some European countries, the authors say. At the time of the report, for instance, there was no national conspectus (unified list of subjects covered by all the libraries in the country), or national preservation office, or newspaper microfilming program. There was no source of preservation grant funds like our National Endowment for the Humanities, and no fearless and dogged author like Barbara Goldsmith to persuade publishers to use alkaline paper. Still, the Australians are organized, with good leadership, a good conservation school that teaches book and paper conservation, a remarkable degree of contact with North American and European conservation, and good regional conservation centers.

The Second Inter-American Round Table of Conservation Services in the area of documents (11-15 June 1990, Mexico), was organized by the Organization of American States (OAS), the Centromidica of the Dominican Republic, and the Committee of Professionals for the Preservation of Documents, Books, and Graphic Materials (CODOLMAG) of Mexico. Among the conclusions of the meeting were decisions to set up an information system on conservation among the participating organizations; to establish working groups to present proposals for diagnosis, training, research, information exchanges; to set up the headquarters of the Technical Secretariat of the RED System in Mexico; and to develop national links for participating countries.

The newly formed working groups met during the Round Table and arrived at some preliminary conclusions. The Diagnostic Group decided to become familiar with the status of conservation of documentary works in Latin America; the conservation services of each country; the profile of human resources dedicated to conservation in each country; and private conservators. The Training Group decided to take an inventory of the training programs in Latin America; to assess needs; to disseminate information on existing courses; and to promote working meetings to discuss levels of training. The Research Group decided to survey people and institutions that are doing research; to learn the technologies used in new developments; to make a record of materials used in various countries; and to learn about industry's possibilities. The Bibliographic Exchange Group decided to compile a general bibliography; to create a list of essential basic reading; to coordinate translation of texts; and to form a data bank for document conservation. (From the August 1990 International Preservation News, p. 14-15, a report from the IFLA Regional Center for Latin America, by Lourdes Blanco.)

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