The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 20, Number 6
Nov 1996


Note: The classification number that follows each entry is there to help the editor arrange, file and find the citations.

When the publisher's address is not given, it can usually be found in the list of Useful Addresses that is mailed out yearly to subscribers.


Digital Imaging for Libraries and Archives, by Anne R. Kenney and Stephen Chapman. Cornell University Library, 1996. 200 pp, looseleaf format. $75 + shipping, from the library; contact Mary Arsenault by e-mail: guide is an expanded version of the training manual used in Cornell's series of digital imaging workshops. It includes an overview of the key concepts, vocabulary and challenges associated with digital conversion of paper- and film-based materials; also of the hardware and software, communications, and management of a full imaging program. There are chapters on creation of databases and indexes, the use of imaging services, conversion of photographs and film intermediates, long-term access and suggestions for continuing education. (2E3)


Conversion of Microfilm to Digital Imagery: A Demonstration Project. Performance Report on the Production Conversion Phase of Project Open Book. Paul Conway, Principal Investigator. $15 + $4 shipping & handling, prepaid, from Yale University Library, Preservation Dept., PO Box 208240, New Haven, CT 06517 (fax: 203/432-1714). Checks or money orders only; make out checks to Yale University Library-Project Open Book. 80 pp. The purpose of this NEH-funded project was to establish in a research library the capacity for large-scale conversion of preservation microfilm and to measure its quality, cost and administrative complexities. This report covers the third phase of Project Open Book, in which Yale and Xerox Corp. built a networked, multi-work station conversion system, recruited, hired and trained three technical assistants, and converted 2,000 books to digital image files. These files were inspected for quality, indexed to reflect the internal structure of the original books, and stored on optical disks in a mechanical jukebox. The project incorporated a sophisticated study of the costs of the digital conversion process, the results of which are summarized in the report. Finally, the project resulted in the development of guidelines for cataloging image files in an online bibliographic system that permits direct access to images and indexes via the Internet.Appendices include information on the equipment configuration and process workflow, samples of image quality and index structures, job descriptions for project staff, cost data, and image cataloging guidelines. (2E3.5)


Digital Library Concepts and Technologies for the Management of Library Collections: An Analysis of Methods and Costs, by William Saffady. This was apparently published as an issue of Library Technology Reports (v.31, #3, May/June 1995). 166 pp. ISSN 0024-2586. $50 + shipping from NISO Press Fulfillment, PO Box 338, Oxon Hill, MD 20750-0338 (301/567-9522, fax 567-9553).This provides a historical overview, a survey of representative digital library projects, a detailed examination of implementations (emphasizing technical requirements and costs) and a treatment of imaging technology-based implementations. (2E5)


How to Save Your Stuff from a Disaster: Complete Instructions on How to Protect and Save your Family History, Heirlooms and Collectibles, by Scott M. Haskins. Preservation Help Publications, PO Box 1206, Santa Barbara, CA 93102 (805/833-9226 or 800/833-9226; fax 805/568-1178; e-mail:; Web site: 1996. Paper, 204 pp. Haskins and his three contributors (Joan Haskins, Gaylord Bros, and Dorothy Adams) have put together what is probably the easiest-to-read manual of any sort in print, a wonderful accomplishment given the difficulty of communicating sound advice and accurate information to nonexperts and ordinary people. (Inaccurate and incomplete easy-to-read manuals are a dime a dozen.) Almost every page opening has a photograph or cartoon to illustrate what is being talked about. Although this is Scott Haskins' first book, he is a full-time conservator, has been teaching adult education classes for the last seven years, and has been involved in six disasters (three earthquakes, two fires and one flood), so he is obviously qualified.When appropriate, non-emergency care to make things last longer is included.The appendix tells how to make good permanent photocopies, keep emergency supplies, deal with insurance companies, and find a conservator. The bibliography is titled "A List of Good Books." And of course it is printed on acid-free buffered paper. (2F3.4)


ICOM Committee for Conservation 11th Triennial Meeting, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1-6 September 1996: Preprints. Edited by Janet Bridgland. James & James Ltd., Waterside House, 47 Kentish Town Road, London NW1 8NX, UK (fax: +44 171 284 3737; e-mail:; Web site: 1996. 2 v. £85.This two-volume set of preprints is 998 pages long, and includes papers from 21 working groups, of which the most relevant to readers of this newsletter are Preventive Conservation, Graphic Documents, Photographic Records, and Conservation of Leathercraft and Related Objects. Most papers are in English, but a few are in French. The scope includes all of conservation, which means that museum-oriented papers outnumber those relating to libraries and archives.The most interesting-looking papers are:

Development of an Environmental Policy for the British Museum - Susan Bradley

The Effectiveness of Barrier Materials in Reducing Emissions of Organic Gases from Fibreboard: Results of Preliminary Tests - Katherine Eremin and Paul Wilthew

L'usage de la lumière naturelle en muséographie - Jean-Jacques Ezrati

Low Energy Climate Control in Museum Stores: A Postscript - Tim Padfield

The Climate behind Pictures Mounted against the Outer Walls of the Chapel of Ledreborg, Denmark - Tim Padfield and Annabel Robinson

Light-induced Damage: Investigating the Reciprocity Principle - David Saunders and Jo Kirby

Mould Growth in Tropical Environments: A Discussion - Graeme Scott

Mechanisms of Paper Ageing and Non-Aqueous Paper Deacidification Combined with Paper Strengthening - Manfred Anders, Karl Bredereck and Anna Haberditzl. This includes an explanation, with experimental results to support it, of how H2 plasma treatment of brittle paper increases its tensile strength by disrupting fiber bonding, making the paper less brittle.

The Application of Enzyme-containing Methylcellulose Gels for the Removal of Starch-based Adhesives in Albums - Agnes Blüher, Gerhard Banik, Karl-Heinz Maurer and Elisabeth Thobois

Improving and Monitoring the Condition of a Collection of Illuminated Parchment Manuscript Fragments--at Home and in Transit - Merryl Huxtable, Victoria Button, Danny Norman and David Ford

The Papersave Process--a New Mass Deacidification Treatment in the German Library, Leipzig - Joachim Liers, Jürgen Wittekind and Claus Theune

The Conservation of Parchment Manuscripts: Two Case Studies - An Peckstadt, Lieve Watteeuw and Jan Wouters

Acetic Acid and Paper Alkaline Reserve: Assessment of a Practical Situation in Film Preservation - Jean-Louis Bigourdan, Peter Z. Adelstein and James M. Reilly. Long before the alkaline reserve in storage envelopes was used up by the acetic acid given off by the film, it stopped interacting with the acid and started co-existing. Buffered papers have little effect on the acidity of cellulose acetate film; control of T and RH are the most effective preservation measures.

Air-drying of Water-soaked Photographic Materials: Observations and Recommendations - Debbie Hess Norris

The Aging of Parylene: Difficulties with the Arrhenius Approach - M. Bilz and D.W. Grattan. Parylene C is more stable than Parylene N, but neither is recommended as a long-term treatment.There were 39 posters too, including one by Johan Neevel on phytate to block ink corrosion, one by John Havermans on TNO's research on paper aging and conservation, one by Judith Hofenk de Graaff on buffered boxes and file folders as pollutant barriers, and one by Nigel Blades on the use of molecular sieves to slow degradation in cellulose acetate negatives. (3.3)


Preserving Digital Information: Report of the Task Force on Archiving of Digital Information. Commissioned by the Commission on Preservation and Access and the Research Libraries Group, Inc. Task Force co-chaired by Donald Waters of Yale and John Garrett of CyberVillages Corp. 59 pp. Printed version published May 1996 by the CPA (1400 16th St. NW, Suite 740, Washington, DC 20036) and available for $15 prepaid. The Web version is at Task Force was created in December 1994 to investigate the means of ensuring continued access indefinitely into the future of digital records. By the following July they had put a draft report on the Internet and were soliciting comment from the community. An unbound 53-page print version appeared in August 1995. In October, Donald Waters gave a paper at the ARL meeting titled "Realizing Benefits from Inter-Institutional Agreements: The Implications of the Draft Report of the Task Force on Archiving of Digital Information," which was later distributed in print by the CPA. An RLG press release announced the publication of the final report in June, saying "Among the group's conclusions: a distributed infrastructure, such as a national system of digital archives (and possibly of data migration and reformatting centers), is needed to collect digital information resources, protect their integrity, and retain them for future use. Interested stakeholders need to come together without further delay to undertake cooperative projects in creating the components of a successful network of digital archives, to develop standards and policies, and in particular to address the legal and economic barriers to preserving digital information-intellectual property rights and the costs of storage and continued access."[It estimates that the cost of storage and use will be twice as great for electronic media to start with, but will go down to half the expense of books in ten years.]The Task Force recommended a process of certification for digital archives. "Certified digital archives must have the right and duty to exercise an aggressive rescue function as a fail-safe mechanism for preserving valuable digital information that is in jeopardy of destruction, neglect or abandonment by its current custodian." It also recommended three pilot projects, development of five support structures, and identification of four "best practices," with their costs. One of the "follow-on studies" recommended in the report is being carried out by Yale University Library, which began storing numerical data on its mainframe in 1972, and has been copying this data at intervals as mainframe technology has dictated. However, distributed computing systems are now used more than mainframes, so Yale will do a pilot study of how to migrate the data from computer tape to a system-independent format. This will involve restructuring. (3G)


"Permanence, Care, and Handling of CDs" is a guide to care of writable and ROM CDs that can be found on the Kodak web site ( Doug Nishimura recommended it on the Conservation DistList in April, saying it deals with both long-term aging and catastrophic failure modes. Contents:

CD Types: CD-ROM and Writable CD
The Nature of CD-ROM Discs
When is a CD's Life Really Over?
So, How Long Can CDs Last?
The Nature of Writable CDs
Safe Handling of CDs
Storage Conditions for CDs
CD Permanence in Perspective

There is a link to this document from the Electronic Media page in CoOL ( It is expected to appear in print before long. (3G2)


Long-Term Access Strategies for Federal Agencies. National Archives and Records Administration, July 1994. (Technical Information Paper No. 12) 295 pp. At head of title: Digital-Imaging and Optical Digital Data Disk Storage Systems. NARA has been at the cutting edge of permanence research on digital media for a long time. In 1983, NARA began monitoring developments in digital imaging and optical digital data disk storage technologies, through a series of projects carried out either at NIST at the Archives' request, or inhouse by the Archival Research and Evaluation Staff (now the Technology Research Staff). One of these projects developed a generic testing method for predicting the life expectancy of optical WORM disks; this method was later used as the basis for an international standard for finding the life expectancy of CD-ROM media. Other projects developed a way to monitor results of error detection and correction codes on optical disk drives, and a way to report the error-checking results. This project also became the basis for a standard.As background for this project, staff reviewed information from the marketplace and technical literature, industrial and governmental experience with digital-imaging and optical digital data disk projects, and onsite examinations of 15 Federal agency applications. The main part of this report consists of five sections on digital image capture, indexing systems, optical digital data disk storage systems, information retrieval and information management policy. Each of these sections discusses management issues, technology trends, user experiences and recommendations.There are over 60 recommendations, listed under subheadings in each section, and they are too specific and numerous to summarize, but here is an example. It is the only recommendation listed under "information retrieval": "Conduct a comprehensive requirements analysis of end users' information-access needs and a systems design study prior to procuring imaging system components."The two appendices take up twice as much room as the main part of the report. Appendix A, 164 pages long, describes the Federal agency site visits, and Appendices B-D are a list of relevant technical standards, a glossary and a bibliography.This report, Technical Information Paper No. 12, is on the World Wide Web and can be downloaded in two parts, but you cannot read it without downloading it: gopher:// It is also available through NTIS for $45 (paper). (3G2)

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