During fiscal 2004, the Preservation Directorate (PD) prepared for President Reagan’s State Funeral, a dozen Signature Books for Congress and the visiting public to sign in commemoration. Preservation staff also consulted on the new Congressional Visitors Center. Other highlights included conservation of 17th century fortification and battle plans, 19th century Japanese Maps, architectural drawings of the Capitol, William Penn’s papers, Theodore Roosevelt’s Presidential papers, and Wright Brother drawings. Particular effort was expended to make available in reformatted versions currently relevant and time-sensitive collections Arabic language newspapers and severely embrittled WWI-era military camp publications that could not otherwise be served to readers, despite loan and reference requests.
The Directorate also aided Library Services in its five primary objectives, including facilitating the acquisition of the culturally significant, multiformat Kislak Mesoamerican Collection by assessing the condition of codices, maps, and objects, including over 600 ceramics, textiles, and paintings, and advising on stabilization, packing, transport, storage and exhibition of the collection.
Risk Mitigation: To secure the national collections during storage, transport, processing, use and exhibition life-cycles, the Directorate updated the preservation component of the Library’s collection security plan, in collaboration with the Office of Security and Emergency Preparedness. To improve security for top treasures, Preservation acquired and installed state-of-the-art gasketted stainless steel cabinets that are watertight and can be filtered against pollution or other contaminants. The Directorate also acquired equipment to improve digital analysis and imaging of treasure collections. A multi-spectral digital camera for photography with infrared and ultra-violet light enables state-of-the-art analysis, documentation and monitoring of the condition and deterioration of the Library’s top treasures and special collections at the most intimate level, capturing features invisible to the naked eye, vital for identification, authenticity and security. Preservation also refined emergency preparedness plans for various scenarios and collections.
Collaborations: To foster collaborative partnerships with other Libraries, public and nonprofit organizations, and the private sector, the Directorate organized and hosted several events. The annual Microform Round Table addressed problems of cellulose acetate with the British Library, Cambridge University Library, Bodleian Library, national Libraries of Scotland and Australia, New York Public Library, and the Libraries of Yale, Harvard, and Princeton. Six “Topics in Preservation Science” lectures, most open to the general public, featured speakers from Cornell University, Lawrence Livermore Berkeley Labs, national Park Service, Canadian Conservation Institute, University of Ljubljana, and the Royal Institute for the Study and Conservation of Belgium's Artistic Heritage, on subjects including imaging sound, archiving optical storage media, laser-cleaning paper, and stabilizing iron gall ink, as well as workshops on leather, parchment and adhesives opened to professional conservators. The third and final year of the Getty Conservation Institute Preventive Conservation Fellowship concluded with a Columbia University Preservation Graduate from Puerto Rico. Directorate staff developed the IFLA Preservation Program in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on "Sights and Sounds: Preserving the New Media" with speakers from Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Brazil. Staff also developed care and handling training and handouts for the Library’s contracted mail and package handlers, Pitney Bowes, to prevent damage to collections being screened for biohazards, and designed and conducted Conservation Clinics for “The Library of Congress goes to Ohio” program, the National Book Festival, and the Dedication of the WWII Memorial on the Mall. In total, Directorate staff gave 24 presentations and authored 17 publications, and were guest lecturers and consultants at national and international preservation programs and laboratories in Spoleto, Italy; Ascona, Switzerland; Cairo, Egypt; Brisbane, Australia; and Wellington, New Zealand.
New initiatives further expanded Library Services objectives to preserve collections and extend collaborative partnerships by launching several training, research and interagency projects.
A new curriculum was developed for Catholic University’s Course on Preservation for Librarians, to promote awareness of preservation challenges and solutions through lectures, demonstrations, tours, and exercises by Directorate staff in the Spring Semester of 2005.
To foster increased diversity in the Library and make preservation opportunities available to a broader group of professionals, the Directorate, in collaboration with the Library's Office of Work Force Diversity, completed consultation on a website and CD-ROM highlighting work with the national collections, and started a new outreach training option by launching a Multi-Cultural Fellowship Program, accepting its first Fellow from the University of Texas’ Graduate Conservation Program.
To support research into the long-term stability of collections and storage materials, the Directorate’s Research and Testing Division started several collaborations and interagency programs. A Research Fellowship was created by a donation from the Nielsen-Bainbridge Company, a producer of preservation supplies. The donation will defray expenses for a named Fellow to research the use of zeolite molecular sieves, which can be incorporated into housing materials and may absorb and trap pollutants in collection storage environments. The work will build upon research performed at the Getty Conservation Institute.
To evaluate the long-term stability of digital media, an Interagency Agreement was signed with the Information Technology Division of National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) to share data and methodology in the study of the effects of natural and accelerated aging on signal stability of CD-ROMs and DVDs. The Directorate’s Research and Testing Division will study CD-ROMs, and NIST will focus on DVDs. To study natural aging, a sample set of CD-ROMs is intermittently called from the Library’s collections and evaluated using special signal testing equipment; in addition, the Division is developing procedures for accelerated aging of CDs, and evaluation protocols. The Interagency Agreement provides special funding from the Library to enable NIST to expand their participation in this work and bring a scientist on board to work with Division staff on the project. A specialist engineer has been retained on a contract to assist in evaluating the test data and adapting testing and aging protocols.
To develop a protocol for preserving sound recordings, a second Interagency Agreement was signed with the Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore Berkeley Laboratory to study the efficacy of digitally imaging sound recording materials, such as wax cylinders and shellac discs, using two- and three-dimensional imaging methods. Issues to be addressed are scanning speed optimizations, measurements of damaged and moldy samples, and comparisons of 2-D and 3-D scans on laterally modulated disc media. If successful, digital imaging techniques will be able to capture many levels of sound from damaged or fragile original materials without further damaging, altering or wearing down the materials.
To expand efforts to preserve and make accessible local newspapers throughout the United States, a third Interagency Agreement marked a collaboration between the US Newspaper Program and the National Endowment for the Humanities to form the US Digital Newspaper Program. Ten cooperative agreements will be awarded to state level institutions to convert to digital form select newspapers from 1900-1910 and to deposit those files with the Library of Congress. This program is intended to assist in developing standards for page-level access to historic newspapers converted from preservation microfilm and as a model for cooperative digital content development.
Finally, Preservation acquired new equipment to further improve housing for all formats of collection for storage, transport, use, exhibition, and processing life-cycles. Two new automatic computer systems were purchased that design, measure and cut custom mats and boxes, thereby reducing time and increasing accuracy and range of techniques and materials used to protect and display collections. Even the most unusual or complicated format items or associated materials can be adequately safeguarded. An automatic mat-cutter can instantly cut any combination of shapes, and a Kasemaker boxmaking system contains a library of 200-300 box styles and allows operators to design new boxes using plastics, cloth, paper, and solid and corrugated board.