ALA Midwinter 2012: Preservation Administrators Interest Group Meeting Roundup

Written by Laura Bedford and woefully late in posting by me. Sorry Laura for the delay, and thanks for your notes. By sharing information like this, especially when travel budgets are so tight, we all benefit.

Preservation week  April 22-28, 2012

Two websites:

  1.  ALCTS website (  – for institutions to grab materials off for their own sessions;  it will contain a map of events for preservation week – you input info and it’s updated. (thru ALCTS)
  2. @ your library pass it on website (  – more for the public – what’s going on during the week, including  family focused events and activities.

@your library  will have different daily content focus:    AV, quilts, comic books, slides,  digital photos, family docs; it will include both video and print content.

There will be 2 webinars during Preservation Week  –  Tuesday : textile collections care;  Thursday:  digital photo conservation.

Also look to @facebook and

Preservation week national spokesperson – Steve Berry.  He’ll speak on Monday 1/23 about his “ History Matters”  organization created by him and wife.

There’s a Preservation Week booth for the first time at ALA – will be continued through other meetings, staffed by volunteers.

IMLS Fellows

  • Annie Peterson –  IMLS Fellow at Yale, MLIS at Urbana-Champ, intern at UCLA and George Blood
  • Nick Szydlowski – IMLS Fellow at NYPL; IMLS at Simmons, works at MIT.
  • Kimberly Tarr – NYU moving image program; prior A/V project at Smithsonian’s NMAH; auditing NYPL audio spaces.

All will be presenting at ALA Annual in Anaheim on their fellowships.  Also Evelyn Frangakis from  NYPL will be organizing a memorial for Jan Merrill-Oldham  at PAIG at Annual – contact her if you want to be involved.

Managing an efficient local book scanning workstation

Roger Smith – Head of the Preservation and Digital Library programs at UC San Diego

UCSD just completed contract with Google – selecting material for digitization to fill in gaps in rare materials that weren’t sent thru the google process.  Working through a rights checklist assessment process, determining what will be viewed at a local level or publicly.  Asking questions to find out what materials fall in private and public levels.   Why are we digitizing – for preservation, access, both? What costs are associated with collaborating with other institutions?  Focus on managing assets going forward.  He looked system wide in UC’s,  starting with combined metadata repository, in efforts to break down silos within UCSD.

Setting yourself up – currently he has one scanner, buying a second.  What level of work you expect to do  should drive what and how many scanners you purchase.  What special needs do the materials entail – what about automated features?  What is the budget?  UCSD chose manual page turning feature, to be able to send special collections material thru it.  What’s your time frame?  Important to get a loaner from a vendor first, or plan site visits to check it out and talk to other customers – like at ALA.

Proposal management –get buy in from other depts.; create a proposal mgmt process from the library to help other depts. go thru and manage their expectations; define the purpose, value, audience, timeline, collection description, number of objects, condition, metadata, staffing, funding and approval tracking.  Many depts. came with good ideas but didn’t have answers to questions at the offset – needed to go thru proposal mgmt process before beginning.

UCSD created a “Swimlanes” matrix mgmt approach – 3.5FTE helped develop proposals up to actionable state.  Answering questions like:  should collection be available in digital form?  Steering committee takes over next to consider resources – how many people, $ and capacity, and what is in house or outsourced.  Steering committee ties resources to projects, and prioritizes all the projects – only high priority projects go forward.  Operations group made up of personnel from variety of depts. for a very fluid body to roadmap the projects, with  IT dept and products mgmt team supporting all.

Wiki – project details, all project info contained within, including strategic milestones, project status, issues and risks.  Used an additional plug-in timeline tool to help manage bandwidth, as that was the biggest challenge.   Wiki is viewable by all staff associated with project –it’s the center point.

Local workstation mgmt – mix of students and staff doing work – critical to have a clear process and procedure.  Track it on two levels – generalized how to use equipment,  and what project is trying to do; per project, what are expectations and schedule regular check-ins; articulate a sound file mgmt process; have a clear process for confirmation of ingest and deletion of source files; used drop boxes for each library unit, to facilitate QA and QC.

File mgmt – used CA digital library protocol for file naming and format structure.  Following preservation strategy to do it once.  Created network partners entitled Chronopolis – UCSD and SD Computer center developed it jointly.  Has three backup nodes for storage: UCSD, Colorado and Maryland for geographic separation of content; content ingested in 1 TBs.

Chronopolis – Dark archive – no public access, no access for us as client – replication in 3 nodes, uses ACE for content mgmt, built on iRods architecture, uses bagit TRAC cert., $1500 – $2200 per terabyte per year – storage is cheap, services cost money.  Using it for general content mgmt.

Hathi Trust – partner – in the public domain for different access point from Chronopolis – holding mass digitized google content. Will push more local dams content into Hathi to make their content there more complete .  Cal digital library, merit – for web archive and scholarship content.

Getting second scanner for more efficient workflow and variety of content, as it’s slow with special  collection  material.  Often have two students working in conjunction, one editing as other scanning.

Who updates project mgmt tracking/wiki?  Handled by project mgr – there is one overall digital projects manager who watches the individual project heads and helps out.

Scarce and endangered works: Using network-level holdings data in preservation decision making and stewardship of the printed record

Jacob Nadal, Preservation Officer for the UCLA Library (leaving for Brooklyn Historical Society) and Annie Peterson, IMLS Preservation Administration Fellow at Yale University

( for full article)

Concerning the final outcomes of project started 1 ½ ago during Annie’s summer internship at UCLA, creating decision making guidelines for brittle books.   Used management tool called a Cynefin domain chart ( ) , showing four regions– complex/knowable/chaotic/known – spaced around the unknown.   Chaotic – not repeatable, don’t know what going on, so adopt principles; complex – use guidelines, partially repeatable; knowable – focus on best practices; known – repeatable, compliance to rules required.

The brittle books situation at UCLA was chaotic.  There was a large preservation backlog – very brittle, moldy or water damaged books; no standards how to track to avoid backlog, no dedicated funding, some materials were unique.

They assumed constraints:  little staff time and lots of decisions to make.  Process needed to be sustainable – well documented, replicable and consistent – and  responsible, to uphold UCLA’s mission.    This meant data driven decision making.  Looked to articles by Martin Weizman (“The Noah’s Ark Problem.” Econometrica, Vol. 66, No. 6 (Nov., 1998), and Candace Yano on optimizing the number of copies for print preservation of research journals ( ) .

Noah’s ark problem – the area of info shared in common by all libraries, one set unique, and another set unique – maximum diversity with minimum replication.   Yano adds in survival probabilities – how many copies need to exist today for those items to be in existence in 100 years.    Look at thresholds and scenarios for withdrawal and retention – what UCLA can withdraw, and transfer responsibility to the greater system  – looked at retention numbers in worldcat, in CA and in the UC system. For moderate scenario:  If 12 in worldcat/or 3 in CA/ or 0 in UC, replace the items.  If 26 in worldcat/5 in CA/or 2 in UC, withdraw.  Preservation and conservation staff have oversight, as does head curatorial.   Withdrawn = pulled from collection without replacing; with a preservation review before withdrawal, and discarding items that weren’t usable anyway.  Replacement – UCLA will try to acquire copy in good condition and digitize it if not in Hathi Trust. Review category – human element of collection mgr consulted for final decision – not many materials fall into this, so the category will be eliminated.

Showing that if 26 copies in worldcat, 99.5% chance that materials will survive in 100 years.    As off Oct 2011, replace and withdraw categories evenly split at 500 items each.  Costs:  withdraw $265, replace  $8100, review $230. Cost per item $.56, $36, $22. In replacement costs, include buying in books from open market to replace in $5 to $40 range, then go up in $$ for special items.   Withdrawing lots of things that are widely held, replacing things that are scarcely held.    Future – assuming other libraries are playing same game – there is a need for more diversification of risk, in case some institution is more aggressive in their thresholds.   Increasing role of digitization and print on demand for replacement strategies to help bring down costs.

Yale as case study  – very decentralized, older preservation program, changing decision making process – If fewer than 26 holdings in worldcat, will use numbers to accept preservation responsibilities of the artifact, not deferring them onto other institutions.

Yano’s article was based on Jstor environment as one scenario – two copies in good condition in dark archives/protected storage.  Extrapolated that math for UCLA using 12 copies with 2100 as life span.

Hathi board of governors to talk about physical item repositiories in coming months – connecting TRAC back to 26 physical items within certified repositories.  Ian Bogus (U Penn) asks for established conditions, environmental standards, and commitment repositories for the 26 copies to feel secure – not confident in Ithaca reports.  Don’t know if all those copies are in small institutions that don’t have funding to support them, and might withdraw copies, dropping below needed number of 26.   Seeing some growth in system surplus as more small libraries are uploading their worldcat holdings, converting from file cards to digitial files.    Need to make rules known – who’s retaining what and at what level.

Poor Man’s Mold: Preservation on a Penny

Julie Mosbo, Preservation Librarian at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale

Very supportive dean but not enough money.  Small area library renovated in 2009 floors 1-5; some unfinished space, awaiting funds for shelving.  Three other storage units beyond main library, including one with bad mold issues, poor security…. Storage 1&2 is main problem – 200,000 volumes, mainly periodicals and special collections research center – audio collection, and lesser rare books – far removed from main library.

No preservation librarian since 1989.  Staff with limited experience continued conservation/repair  until new special collection librarian came on 2007, Julie came in 2008.  Hygothermographs not replaced over 4 years. Julie brought in PEM2s in 2009.  White mold found in Oct 2011 in Storage 1&2: 27 rooms of books in fixed storage.   Building kept dark,  no staff unless sent out to get books; mold found while checking store holdings.

At time mold was found, faculty positions were frozen with chancellor approving everything, threat of four unions striking; faculty did go on strike for a week in November  so only 5 staff on hand during week of faculty strikes. Couldn’t get insurance money to use for mold remediation, as had prior incident showing they weren’t well insured; but they had access to faculty salaries  -“open salary money” that was going to be swept in two weeks.    Also had 3FTE, with 2 retiring within months of each other – unionized, meaning had to accept who applied – lost marking and binding supervisors.

Found mold at 3 pm on Friday – looked at it on Monday with dean.  Had a week to make assessment, but was only two days because everyone got sick from mold, despite taking precautions.  Estimated 5000 volumes, 27 rows.   Got $16,000 from swept salaries – hired two help from housing dept, bought 3 Hepa filtered vacuums – she might have to take money from binding sources to finish job.  Housing Dept help assessing every book for mold, separating books – books to either side of moldy books also vacuumed.  Cleaning shelves with mild bleach solution.

Moldy books vacuumed in attached garage with air circ; leaving them on clean book trucks for reshelving.  Some of books checked out from this storage space that were being returned during this time also had mold and are being treated before being reshelved.  Mold mostly attracted to linen covered books – no big pattern – intermittent within numbered volumes.   Some books housed near construction spaces with paint splatter mistaken for mold and vice versa.  Finding mold on the spine, or within the book but not on the spine, even though books were packed tightly.   Mold found on third shelf or below – not close to hvac vents. Large quantities around metal staircases and at the end of shelving units – staircases sweat a lot with fluctuating RH.  Over 4000 books cleaned since October 25.

Positive outcomes: staff is great at identifying mold now; better stacks maintenance; they’re vacuuming everything, as dirty books looked similar to moldy ones; recommending books for new bindings – when things falling apart as they are vacuumed.  Using this as excuse to keep this building as storage at a premium, with no new money for shelves in new building.   When cleaning, staff are tracking what titles are treated – Julie’s working on how to share that info with other staff/patrons.  Can only afford vacuuming now, setting aside books with staining for possible ethanol water treatment later.

Preservation Assessment of MIT e-journal holdings

Ann Marie Willer, Preservation Librarian for the MIT Libraries, and Nick Szydlowski, IMLS Preservation Administration Fellow at the New York Public Library

Creating a tool to assess preservation status of ejournals – Keepers registry is a JISC project creating registry of ejournals in repositories – they had originally hoped to use this tool, but it wasn’t available to them yet, so they built their own tool in house.   (  – Currently there are 45,000 ejournals for MIT users, many print subscriptions have been canceled; ejournals central to MIT content offerings – content is leased, not owned.

Compared MIT holdings to Jstore, clockss, portico, Hathi trust – chose things in machine readable format holdings to download data.  MIT participates in all but clockss.  Worked with export from SFX system holdings for one week in Feb 2011. Compared in filemaker database with issn, eissn, lccn, exported to excel for analysis.  Fewer than 22% titles had match in one of the repositories.  72% of titles leased by title vs leased thru aggregator had a match in a repository – pay money to have access to this.   Based on title matching – not necessarily content matching.  (are repository titles same as print title and ejournal titles? – compared date spans)  Doesn’t mean entire date span collected in one repository, just that there was some overlap.

Question about which titles MIT has strongest commitment to  – unresolved as yet. Big three suppliers– Elsevier, Wiley and Springer  – had huge chunk of budget, but all participate in portico.  Elsevier has highest participation in portico (90%). Wiley had lots of titles that were in queue to be ingested, Springer had 50% in portico thru other company names that it owns.

Special Collections Challenges in a Public Library

Brian Collins, Archivist in the Texas/ Dallas History & Archives Division of the Dallas Public Library, and Tina Murdock, Music Librarian, Dallas Public Library

Showing off special collections kept in their public library –  375 collections from all formats/topics. Challenge to provide access and customer service within public library atmosphere  – extensive list online.    Pratt and Gill architectural collections in historic building across from Kennedy memorial – taking up half of all storage space.  Flat storage vs. rolled – flat cabinets are very expensive; what seems small when rolled takes up lots of space when flattened; it’s hard to serve rolls to patrons. Big request for reproductions of maps – trash can method of humidifying and flattening, then sent out for imaging, placed in mylar sleeves.  Large volume of materials per project, in many iterations and sizes  – how to offer access?  Organized by year within project.

Dallas symphony opera – oldest cultural institution in Dallas; materials stored near diesel truck storage, tapes in boxes on floors in flooded building – brought in materials when wet and moldy.  Lots of audio formats – George Blood helping to identify formats.  Challenge to separate tapes into treatable units, for identifiction; file cabinets full of moldy materials that haven’t been dealt with yet – not part of archival core mission, so can only fund archivist on grant basis.  Rolled vs flat storage – lots of rolls can’t be unrolled, as damaged in flood.  Lots of strange items – thin line between libraries and museums: elvis wine bottle, conductor’s music stand from old majestic theatre, iron grill from theatre.  What do you do with this?

Theatre collection has great finding guide in print – not yet online.  These aren’t static collections – living entities still producing more materials – volunteers doing processing, but stacked materials all over on floors… not planning for space needs – no knowledge of what stacked where.  With strong community partnerships, consistently need staff training for why they can’t keep pulling things in and out as they work with new productions – not archivists handling materials.

Marion Butts photo collection – documenting civil rights movement and black community in Dallas – many formats create storage and housing challenges. Grant based funding for rehousing and photo research, lesson plans for teachers posted online.  How handle access and reproduction requests – increasing online image catalogue.

Copyright challenges for music collections – library doesn’t own rights to manuscripts they have – can only provide copies if patron gets the permissions.   Binding damage in old city directories collection – high use demand, no Xeroxing – push patrons to use microfilm.  Dependent on interns for working through A/V collections – mp3s and pdf docs on oral histories;  many obsolete formats  that can’t be played, or have been transferred to vhs… still looking for grant funding for transfer.  DPL down half in staff; all staff works all positions – spec coll staffing circ desks.

Searching for Audio-visual File Storage Solutions

Jenny Stone, Digital Asset Librarian at the Dallas Museum of Art

Archives started in 2000, 2 FTE – she focuses on A/V, access to archival exhibition resources online: capturing all digital assets created in organizing an exhibition, and made online.  Collection dates back 30 years, most on U-matic and audio cassettes – artists talking about how to install, preserve things….6 TB, 3000 hrs, ingest 400+ files annually, and physically fills a room with materials.  Doesn’t actively collect – mostly things made by the museum.  Growing, as museum more invested in digital media.

2008 oversaw conversion of analog materials to digital, helped by George Blood.  Went with an off-site storage company – not happy with them.   Data was shipped to CA for upload, but then got strange bills – became contract dispute over overage billing.   Better sense of what to ask for and how much stuff they actually have – got data back and went with cloud platform, to connect with content mgmt system.  Had software issues.  Came up with TeraStack – up to 50 TB storage, data accessible online and then burned to blue-ray disk optical storage.  Lessons learned: test the data recovery system, and automate backup procedure.  She centralized drop off and pick up location, standardized file naming, masters and use copies created, she handles pushing them out to public website, and backup swept into TeraStak.   Dealing with space, budget, it staff issues, and being a low priority within the museum.


  • Jeannie Drewes – LC .  Deanna Marcum retired;  Roberta Shaffer new Associate Librarian for Library Services now.  Budget cuts at LC as well.  Conservation division has new documentation program – digital files and images for all work (from analog). Microfilm masters transferred to digital with purchase of new machinery; able software with commercial binding – LC still gets 10k physical volumes a day. Mass deacidification working with RATS for long term testing with 15 years research files.   New fellowship with CLIR at LC, Mellon Fellow looking at American federal theatre project.  Updated intern page for applications.  Worked with fedlink summer preservation institute, opening it up to non-federal librarians.  Three symposiums: one on general collections, one of the future of preservation – all available online, along with Tops series.   Jeannie is the new ALCTS paper series editor – wants to inaugurate a preservation series; Holly Robertson to take lead on publishing ARL statistics. Jeanne will be sending out topics on padg – it will be a monograph series, with chapters written on various topics by different people – to be sold either by book or by chapter.   She’s looking for writers….
  • MIT new head of curation/ preservation Nancy McGovern – announcement to come out over padg.
  • Fundamentals of preservation course thru ALCTS – Karen Brown is inviting colleagues to become instructors – one month commitment – 20 hours over five weeks. With a little $ from ALCTS. Looking for digital and A/V strengths, for 2013.
  • Bob Strauss  – Banks Harris award reception at ALA Annual for Bobbie Pilette, still trying to find an evening slot, pre-PAIG – contact him if you have input.
  • Andy Hart – ALCTS nominated him to run for president of division – vote for him.
  • Ian Bogus – task force for guidelines for digitization – create some minimum guidelines. Rough draft now, finished report by Annual.
  • Donia Conn – updating NEDCC leaflet series   – wants peer reviewers of leaflets while updating, changing language to target smaller institutions that don’t have preservation professionals.

2 Responses

  1. Deep thanks to Laura – those are incredible notes.

    Many of the reports reinforce the fact that strong administration/management skills can seriously enhance the goals preservation.

    And thanks again to PCAN for hosting them.

    • I find that I use more of my management skills than anything these days. I do think you need a certain amount of admin/management/political skills to get things done across a large institution. “Insinuation” is how one director used to put it.

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