The Preservation Directorate staff authored 12 publications and gave 35 presentations throughout the US, Europe and Asia. A particular highlight was a presentation on preserving records for future generations for the Symposium on “The New Iraq – Memory and National Identity” sponsored by the Iraq Memory Foundation and the Library’s Near East Section.
IFLA PAC Center Initiatives: The Directorate is the Regional Center for North America for the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) Preservation and Conservation (PAC) Focal Point, which is hosted by the National Library of France. During the summer of 2005, the Directorate initiated the formation of an IFLA PAC North American Network, consisting of a dozen partners including the libraries of Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, the University of Utah, and the University of Texas - Austin, as well as the Smithsonian Institution Library, the National Archives and Records Administration, the New York Public Library and the Library and Archives of Canada. The purpose of this group is to form a network of local regional centers that can address library preservation issues on a national level. The first charge to the group was to develop a coordinated effort for emergency mitigation for collections. To this end, each partner was asked to agree to commit annually a total of 80 hours of staff time in recovery and training plus $1000 in resources or the equivalent to help with emergencies in North America or neighboring countries. With the advent of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the North American Network (NAN) has held weekly conference calls to coordinate activities with FEMA and the Heritage Preservation Foundation, and a series of recovery workshops have been planned for fiscal 2006.
Emergency Response Accomplishments: To respond to the needs of libraries in areas affected by hurricanes, the Directorate updated it’s website to include a link for Hurricane Recovery, Emergency Preparedness and Response, containing information for libraries, archives, museums, and the general public about recovery of water-damaged materials. An in-house training program was designed and scheduled for hurricane-affected library staff wanting to learn disaster recovery techniques for collections, with a curriculum specifically on the topic of recovery of water-damaged materials. The Directorate also identified volunteers and supplies that may be available to aid afflicted libraries. It also coordinated activities with those of FEMA and the Heritage Preservation Foundation, with the participation of almost two dozen agencies, organizations and funders (including NPS, SI, NARA, Solinet, AIC, AAM, SAA, NEDCC, CCAHA, IMLS, OCLC, NEA, NEH, National Trust, etc.). In particular, it served as a clearinghouse for information in its role as Regional Center for North America for the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) Preservation and Conservation.
Heloise and NPR Preservation Radio Programs: To foster awareness of preservation issues, staff were interviewed by Heloise for her "Ask Heloise" radio program. Conservators expert in the care and treatment of various media of paper, book, photographs, and audiovisual materials, responded to questions from Heloise and her audience for a radio program aired nationwide on the "Lifestyle Talk" Radio Network. National Public Radio also interview a staff conservator, airing "Preserving Precious Photos in the Digital Age" on its evening news program "All Things Considered." The challenges and techniques of preserving family photographs, particularly with the increased popularity of digital photography, were discussed.
Mellon Photograph Survey Grant: The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded a $40,000 grant to the Directorate for a three-pronged project: a comprehensive survey of the Library’s photograph collections, an evaluation of a database structure to use as an assessment tool related to the conservation of those collections, and recommendations to address the needs identified in the survey. The comprehensive survey of the Library’s approximately 14 million photographs will allow photo conservators to plan and conduct photo preservation activities more effectively and efficiently than has been possible in the past because of limited staff and resources, and will provide a model for that can be used to survey other photograph collections in large research institutions. The project is expected to take 15 months, continuing through fiscal 2006.
Topics in Preservation Science Series: Three “Topics in Preservation Science” lectures featured speakers from the Smithsonian Institution and Lawrence Livermore Berkeley Labs on subjects including imaging sound, preservation of videotapes, and research into the composition of iron gall ink. The series was attended by librarians, conservators, scientists, funders, and others from throughout the region, including staffers from the House and Senate.
Catholic University of American Preservation Course: Directorate staff designed and taught a semester course for Catholic University of America’s School of Library Science on"Specializations: Archives, Book Arts, and Special Collections Preservation." This course covered environmental control; storage and commercially available housing options; exhibition and custom housing and display options; emergency preparedness and mitigation; preservation reformatting; binding and collections care; conservation of books, paper-based, photographic, and audio-video collections; research and testing: and issues of security, contracting, funding, education, training, and public awareness.
American Creativity Summer Interns Training: The Directorate coordinated an orientation and training program for summer interns and their supervisors involved with the American Creativity summer project. The interns were trained in assessment, composition of collections, handling and support, marking, photocopying, and transporting and housing of collections.
Fellows and Interns Training Program: The Directorate reorganized its Fellows and Interns Training Program to maximum funding options and to introduce students to the full range of preservation activities undertaken in the Directorate. In addition to funds from Pulitzer, Harper-Inglis, and INA, new funders included Nielson-Bainbridge and The Mellon Foundation. The Directorate hosted eight interns from conservation programs in the US, Chile, France, Italy, and Japan. A Pulitzer Fellow worked on a special research project examining Persian lacquer book bindings. The work was presented in several talks and a poster displayed at the American Institute for Conservation Conference in June. To support increased diversity in the Library and make conservation opportunities available to a broader, more diverse group of professionals, the Directorate hosted, as its first Multi-Cultural Fellow, a highly qualified intern from a graduate training program in Texas. The Fellow’s work included project management, technician training, outreach efforts, and working with senior conservators to stabilize 100 volumes, among other things, for the Russian Imperial Library for the Library’s Law Library; 1,400 Jeffersonian-era newspapers for the Serials and Government Publications Division; 65 original Kapp cartoon drawings and 50,000 diverse materials for the Motion Picture, Broadcast and Recorded Sound Division and its move to the National Audio/Visual Conservation Center.
Digitizing Sound Initiative: Two initiatives continued with the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The first, entitled the "Image, Reconstruct, Erase Noise, Etc." (IRENE) Project, funded by the Library and by the National Endowment for the Humanities, is aimed at building a fast two-dimensional scanning machine for lateral discs. A functioning prototype was assembled and scans made with that machine have demonstrated the required performance. Development work on the full scale software package is underway. Analytical studies research effort is centered on the use of a precision surface profiling probe that utilizes confocal microscopy. Various scans and tests have been made on a diversity of media including wax and celluloid cylinders, shellac, lacquer, and aluminum discs, and plastic dictation belts. Audio clips from Edison and wax Dictaphone cylinders, some from the Jack London residence at the Jack London State Park in Glen Ellen, California and heavily damaged by "mold," have been recovered. A number of preliminary conclusions are under consideration which impact on optimal scanning strategies and scan times. This project was presented at the Library in May 2005. The second initiative, entitled "Analytical Studies using Non-Contact Methods on Mechanical Recording Media," is funded by the Library with additional support from the Mellon Foundation. The research effort is aimed at measurements using the full three-dimensional surface profiles of phonograph discs to extract the maximum information from the recorded sound carrier. A paper describing the 3D studies was published in the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society in June 2005. A goal of this effort is to develop an IRENE-like proposal for a 3D scanning system that could be used by the Library. That proposal would be ready in mid-2006. Significant outreach activity has explained this research and its value to a diverse audience including archivists, conservators, scientists, audio professionals, students, and the general public. Approximately 30 invited talks have been presented. A large number of newspaper and magazine articles, and radio and TV spots have appeared.
Microfilm Round Table: The Directorate participated in the Third International Round Table on Preservation Microform at the British Library, which addressed problems of cellulose acetate in libraries including the Cambridge University Library, Bodleian Library, National Libraries of Scotland and Australia, New York Public Library, and the Libraries of Yale, Harvard, and Princeton.
The discussion focused on standards, strategies and workflows; condition surveys; bibliographic and intellectual control; dissemination of information through web sites and workshops for professionals; membership and scope; and development of a scoping document for enlargement.