To the Editor:
On page 47 of the June 1992 issue of Abbey Newsletter, you noted the following:
The Research Libraries Group (RLG) has been awarded $906,224 by the NEH for the third phase of a project to microfilm brittle or deteriorating volumes.... The two earlier phases of the project, which when completed in 1992 will result in the microfilming of more than 61,000 volumes, . . . were funded by NEH grants totaling over $3 million. (That works out to a $49 contribution by NEH for each book. The news release that ran on EMail did not say how much was contributed by the libraries.) The 199293 part of the project, however, will cost more: NEH's contribution will be $77 per book.
These figures warrant further explanation. As there have been other sources of funding to supplement NEH's essential contributions, it is more useful to look at average costs as well as the percentage increases in the total costs over time.
On the average, since 1983, NEH has awarded about $45 per volume for preservation microfilming of book and journal materials to RLG members in RLG's six largest cooperative projects. By December 1993, more than 121,000 embrittled volumes will have been preserved and cataloged through these efforts.
Total project expenditures for the same 121,000 volumes average approximately $73 per volume. The total expenditures include NEH support and additional outside funding, as well as institutional cost-sharing (exclusive of indirect expenses). In 1983, when the first RLG cooperative project was launched, the average total per volume cost was $62. Ten years later, in 1993, the per-volume cost will have risen to $102. This increase reflects the effect of inflation on filming operations, stricter standards for quality assurance, and the steady growth in the ability of libraries to identify and track accurately all costs associated with the production of preservation microfilm.Patti McClung