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ALA Annual 2010 Roundup: PAIG

The Preservation Administration Interest Group met on Friday, June 25, 2010. The agenda was packed, I’ll list some highlights here.

Jeanne Drewes informed us that Preservation Week was a success. There is a new task force to ensure that it continues its momentum for next year. There were several participants, webinars and events held across the country. The date of Preservation Week 2011 will be April 24-30, which will slide nicely into your May Day events.

Ellen Cunningham-Kruppa, Roberta Pilette, and yours truly presented information on the discussions and meetings going on surrounding the closing of the Kilgarlin Center at the University of Texas. Ellen talked about a meeting that Simmons College held with various organizations, and Roberta talked about the meeting that the Mellon Foundation held with educators, funding agencies and preservation librarians.  I discussed the AIC discussion that was held this spring.

James Reilly of the Image Permanence Institute presented on “Sustainable Preservation Environments.”  The avenue to building sustainable environments is through acquiring the ability to manage your environment (within the preservation department), managing the environment to use less energy, and documenting improvements to gain support from your institutional leaders. To do this effectively we need the capability to acquire and analyze data (the IPI PEM would be a good choice from his point of view of course), a staff person assigned to the task who understands HVAC operations, and a process for working together with building operators to achieve clearly understood goals.

IPI’s current research includes the effects on collections due to complete shutdowns in selected spaces (e.g. turning off systems overnight to save energy) and the use of aggressive setbacks (changing set points). They are working with several institutions to do the research which is funded by IMLS. They will also be hosting several seminars on environmental control. You can follow them through their sustainability website and through the Climate Notes quarterly e-newsletter (click through to an issue to sign up). IPI also has two web based tools that help you track your environmental issues, PEMData and the Dew Point Calculator.

Jake Nadal from UCLA presented on their survey tool and procedures. Jake has kindly posted his presentation on his website. You can follow his projects there and on the UCLA blog.

ITHIKA S&R presented selected findings from their 2009 survey on faculty attitudes on the transition from print to electronic resources. They sent out 35,184 paper surveys to faculty at U.S. higher education institutions (this is the fourth iteration of this survey). They received an 8.6% response rate.  The survey is meant to be provocative and elicit strong emotions. It is meant to raise issues, not show how things are (their description, read the full report for yourself).

Their findings indicate that there is a gaining acceptance of e-only access to electronic journals. There remains a difference in how humanists view e-only access to journals compared to scientists and social scientists, but all are moving in the same direction. Faculty seem to feel more comfortable with the cancellation of current print journals and moving towards e-access for journals, but they are uncomfortable with journals ceasing entirely their print versions.

They asked for faculty opinion on the perceived importance of digital content types now and in five years. 70-75% say that databases of academic journals are/will be important; 51% indicated that digitized primary sources are/will be important; and only 31% indicated that e-books are/will be important. Almost 90% replied that for now and in five years the long term preservation of e-journals is important to their research. Interestingly 80% indicated that it is important to preserve databases of academic journals, while slightly less, about 75% said that those databases will be important to their research. [please note that all of these stats are approximate as they were presented as bar graphs and not hard numbers, again read the paper yourself]

They ended by asking some of their own provocative questions of us:

  • Should libraries and publishers work to reduce print publishing?
  • How can the library find efficient and sustainable models to ensure the preservation of print artifacts?
  • Can libraries build trust and support among faculty through a longer-term vision for the preservation of valuable content over time?
  • Will e-books and if so will they come to replace or supplement print?

They did reference a new CLIR report titled “The Idea of Order: Transforming Research Collections for 21st Century Scholarship” which is now available online. I haven’t read it yet, but will put it on my to-do list.

2 Responses

  1. Hi Beth,

    Thank you for the writeup of this session and for the extensive coverage of preservation issues at ALA. I would like to clarify one or two things about the objectives of the Ithaka S+R Faculty Survey and the approach we took.

    In our presentations, we try to be careful to ask listeners not to view our analysis of the survey as dispositive. It uses a commercial market research methodology rather than an academic surveying methodology. Moreoever, actual circumstances may vary from institution to institution even when national trends are clear. Still, we believe the responses are representative of the underlying sample of faculty members and and that the findings can therefore provide useful guidance to academic libraries on a variety of key strategic issues.

    Some of the individual questions are structured as “strongly worded statements,” which are as you mentioned designed to provoke an emotional reaction where emotions may factor to a significant degree in the issue at hand (such as “discarding” print collections). But, in the aggregate, our objective in the Faculty Survey has been to help libraries, publishers, and scholarly societies contemplate key issues such as the extent of the format transition, which was the main topic we covered at PAIG.

    Kind regards,


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