In FY2008, the Preservation Directorate passed the 40-year mark of its leadership in the field of preservation of collections. The Library’s decades of leadership in preservation awareness, education, and treatment have been supported throughout by solid scientific research. Preservation science increases the value of collections by increasing access and knowledge of the human record, while decreasing risk to collections that lead to knowledge loss. Preventing knowledge loss from the human record has entered a new phase. As the Library continues to struggle to preserve masses of traditional media (such as manuscripts, books, and photographs), a growing volume of document dilemmas lies ahead. This is because an increasing amount of cultural documentation is now made or stored on film, magnetic tape and other less stable plastic media found in audiovisual and digital collections (whose preservation challenges are only now coming to light). The Library recognizes the need for rapid and focused scientific research in the face of this plethora of new media, to guard against the risk of cultural institutions losing access to an ever-expanding body of knowledge and creativity.
To support preservation of increasingly diverse traditional, audiovisual and digital media, the Library launched several new initiatives. Staff sought and secured grants (from the Kress Foundation, the Getty Conservation Foundation, the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation, and the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) for invitational symposia to begin to address new needs and developments in preservation science. In addition, donations established two new funds (the Simms and the Burroughs Funds) to advance efforts in preservation and science, and to supplement long-standing donations for training in treatment of collections in Preservation’s Haper-Inglis, Pulitzer and INA funds. Most significantly, Library Services committed a substantial one-time infusion of resources to institute a timely and much needed multi-pronged approach to preservation science and research. Upgrades in the Library’s 25 year old preservation science labs, increased staff and improved equipment capabilities now link materials science to library and computer sciences to support preservation of library, archive, and museum collections in the digital age.
A major feature of this initiative is a consolidated multi-faceted program addressing quality assurance as well as analytical service and research studies. Research studies focus first on the materials science of traditional, audiovisual, and digital collections (to determine their preservation needs as well as optical, mechanical and chemical properties, such as composition, stability, durability, and longevity). Environmental effects and technology transfer (to develop new means of improving service) are additional foci. A new website provides continual updates on these programs.
To facilitate this initiative, the Library’s 25-year-old science labs are converting over 9000 square feet of space to state-of-the-art facilities meeting the standards of energy efficient “green technology.” These “green” Preservation Research and Testing facilities will include smaller, lighter, faster, and cleaner instrumentation using less electricity and solvents, and requiring less destructive sampling and sample preparation, in two separate state-of-the-art optical, mechanical and chemical laboratories. These facilities will determine degradation mechanisms, and improve longevity of traditional, audiovisual and digital collections, through treatment development and risk reduction based on environmental studies, analytical services, quality assurance, and technology transfer.
During FY2008 the Library prepared to launch its new optical properties and imaging lab, which will have new capabilities to track changes in optical properties of materials, including appearance, color, brightness, and translucency, using a new environmental scanning electron microscope and other imaging and measurement systems. This first "OP" lab, which will also house equipment for diagnosing audiovisual and digital media, should be fully operational in the coming year, along with the mechanical and chemical properties laboratory. This second "MAC" lab will have new capabilities to track changes in chemical compositions, bonding, pH, tensile strength, fold endurance, etc. (More information about lab equipment.) The second lab will also house an updated, customized, glass-enclosed "TAPPI" room that controls the environment according to Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI) specifications for testing durability and strength, with 100 square feet of more tightly controlled space paralleling optimization of the environmental conditions for storage of the Top Treasures. The second lab will also house the Mass Deacidification Center for document treatment, newly protected by its own glass-walled enclosure to prevent contamination of analytical equipment.
Preparation also continued for the opening of a consolidated, 800-square-foot preservation science reference "Center for the Library's Analytical Science Samples" (CLASS). The CLASS reference room will safeguard and make accessible the Library’s rare and valuable preservation science sample collections for analytical comparison and study by scientists and other scholars, as well as science research institutions, such as the Getty Conservation Institute, the Canadian Conservation Institute, and the British Library. These collections include pigment-coated and transparent papers, as well as the TAPPI Standard Paper Materials Collection of seventy differentiated papers; the Forbes Pigment Collection of over 1000, often rare, colorants; and the original Barrow Book Collection of 1000 volumes, dating from 1509-1899, first assembled in the 1960’s and the basis for the development of mass deacidification to ensure longevity (http://www.vahistorical.org/arvfind/barrowwj.htm ). These collections will eventually be converted into digital reference collections, making valuable spectra and image databases available to scholars.
Finally, to further facilitate the Library's essential preservation science initiative, the Directorate increased personnel dedicated to scientific research. Four new PhD-level scientists (including three women) hired in 2008 bring wide expertise complementing current staff, which now numbers 7 PhD scientists. A new polymer chemist will contribute to the digital and audiovisual program; a materials science chemist will advance knowledge and care of traditional materials such as paper and inks; an inorganic and analytical chemist will enhance instrumental analysis and quality control efforts; and an organic chemist and environmental specialist will advance the Library's optimization of storage for its treasures. In addition, highlights of the programs for visiting scientists, multicultural scientists, and "Topics in Preservation Science" lectures, included a course on research design for local preservation scientists, a demonstration of a new reference encyclopedia for materials found in collections, and visiting Native American and British research designers (see http://www.loc.gov/preservation/outreach/visiting/index.html, http://www.loc.gov/preservation/outreach/intern/multi.html, and http://www.loc.gov/preservation/outreach/tops/index.html).
Customers: In addition to safeguarding the Library’s collections, the Directorate responds to requests from the Library’s customers. Preservation staff responded to 8 major requests from the Office of the Vice President, Congress, the Librarian's Office, and abroad. For the Office of the Vice President, staff consulted on damage caused by a fire in the Ceremonial Office of the Vice President that discolored the Library’s loaned Malby Globe and secured pro bono treatment assistance for this unanticipated and time-consuming special project. For Representatives Carolyn C. Kilpatrick and Barbara Lee, Chair and First Vice-Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, staff completed a preservation assessment and recommendations for the personal library of W.E.B. Du Bois, in Accra, Ghana. For the Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives, staff assessed a portion of the Congressional Library holdings and prepared a report describing the collection's preservation challenges and solutions, providing a resource list of supplies and suppliers and contractors; cost estimate; and a suggested schedule for implementation to provide a comprehensive road map for care of these off-site Congressional Library collections. For the Office of the Librarian, staff prepared for First Lady Laura Bush a hand-made, leather-bound, gold-tooled blue presentation book of letters from authors who have appeared at the National Book Festival, to commemorate Mrs. Bush's service to the nation. For the NBF, preservation staff developed a time capsule model and web resource in collaboration with IMLS and the Smithsonian. For the Librarian's Junior Fellows Project, conservators instructed Junior Fellows on the assessment and re-housing of the Copyright Descriptive Files that document films and range from full scripts and advertising posters to simple descriptions, in preparation for digitization. For a project funded by the Mellon Foundation, conservators consulted on a photo repository survey at the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia, presenting a talk about lessons learned in a similar survey conducted at the Library. For a cooperative project with the National Library of Korea, staff completed preliminary activities to preserve and increase access to rare Korean map materials held by the Library's Geography and Map Division.
Other collaborative efforts focused on a dozen national and international partnerships. With the Image Permanence Institute (IPI), Herzog/Wheeler & Associates (HW), the Architect of the Capital (AOC), and Facilities Services (FS), preservation specialists continued their ongoing investigative partnership to analyze and improve the performance of Library air handling units in Capitol Hill Buildings, as well as in vaults in Culpeper and Landover. Staff also made progress on the development of web-based custom software for sharing collections storage data on Library buildings, floors, and sections with emphasis on linking notes on areas of concern regarding mold infestations, water leaks, pest problems, and similar challenges.
With Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, the Directorate continued work to develop a system to scale up imaging sound recordings in order to initiate production-scale reformatting of at-risk audio formats, including cylinders, disks and other media. Collaboration to develop technology to image grooved audio recordings for digital conversion of sound resulted in reports in the New York Times and other media of the successful playback of one of the earliest sound recordings ever made. The recording, which dates from 1860, was made by a "phonautograph". The phonautograph, a scientific instrument developed in France in the 1850’s, recorded using paper covered with lamp soot scored by a stylus in response to sound, and was meant to visualize sound, not to play it back. The LC/LBNL imaging technology, currently being tested by Library preservation specialists for use at NAVCC for reformatting fragile audio discs and for automated mass digitization, was able to extract sound, for the first time ever, from an early phonautogram, as reported at the annual ARSC meeting. (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/27/arts/27soun.html?pagewanted=all )
With the US Holocaust Museum, preservation scientists analyzed diaries and other manuscripts written by concentration camp victims with portable x-ray fluorescence apparatus to determine how victims where able to concoct ink from scare resources, and to reveal writing under censored cover-ups. With the British Library, preservation experts collaborated on best practices to exhibit the historic Lindisfarne Gospels and other cultural treasures. With the Foundation Center, preservation staff oversaw the development of “The Foundation Grants for Preservation in Libraries, Archives, and Museums”, which covers grants to public, academic and research libraries, archives and museums for activities related to conservation and preservation.
Preservation staff were interviewed and filmed in conjunction with a half-dozen media programs. History Detectives consulted staff on analysis of a questioned document. The crew for the movie "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" interviewed staff on the care of collections, including spectacles, clippings, and currency found in Lincoln's pockets at the time of his assassination, as part of a collector’s edition of the CD. History Channel taped preservation staff for the Library’s orientation video.
Staff were also interviewed and filmed on several occasions by the press, National Institute for Information Standards and Technology (NIST), and others in conjunction with the argon encasement of the 1507 Waldseemüller World Map. The production of this encasement was the result of a successful collaboration with NIST and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). As part of the 'Exploring the Early Americas' exhibition, Preservation Directorate staff worked with exhibition, security, and IT staff to install the encasement, secure the map into the encasement, and set-up and maintain the environmental monitoring system to preserve the map while it stays on permanent exhibit, providing uninterrupted access to this important treasure for the American public. Knowledge obtained through the process of designing and installing this case has been documented and shared with the national and international preservation community who have shown increased interest in preserving high value objects using anoxic encasements.
Outreach and Leadership Updates: To advance outreach through leadership, the Directorate has hosted 3 Invitational Preservation Research and Education Symposia (PRES) on Future Directions in Document Preservation, covering Emergency Mitigation, Preservation Education, and Preservation Research, and attended by 150 professionals world-wide. These symposia were supported by over $70,000 in grants, primarily from the Getty and Kress Foundations, and are describe below. (See schedule.) The Directorate also benefited from a detail of a staff member from the Institute of Library and Museum Services in an initiative to strengthen the capacity of federal agencies to advance collections preservation through partnerships.
- On February 25, the Preservation Directorate and FLICC hosted a collections emergency mitigation workshop for over 30 FLICC member libraries in a program entitled "Safety Net", to develop a network of regional responders to provide mutual assistance in salvage of collections in the event of a disaster . This workshop followed salvage training offered previously by the Directorate for federal and other libraries. A major outcome was the signing by a dozen FLICC participants of a Charter of Library Mutual Disaster Assistance developed by FLICC and the Preservation Directorate as an aid to librarians interested in collaborating with other institutions to prepare for and cope with disasters affecting collections. A model charter for use by other communities appears on the Library’s website.
- On May 15-16, seventy senior preservation, conservation, and related education professionals participants in the Directorate’s “Pres Ed” symposium to examine needs, solutions, and priorities for education and training to assure that library, archives, and museum document collections are preserved to meet users’ needs through the 21st century and beyond. The symposium was funded in part by a $60,000 grant from the Getty Foundation, and was supported by the Library’s IFLA PAC NAN members. Challenges identified by the group, who represented federal agencies, universities, professional organizations, and funding bodies from around the world, included virtual access initiatives and de-emphasis of the physical vulnerability of machine-dependent records. Potential solutions include supporting increased resources to preserve increasingly complex collections; hybrid professional specializations; elective courses and workshops on emerging challenges of new media; more and better-funded post-graduate fellowships; senior scholar initiatives to preserve expert knowledge; and new technology-assisted education and training methodologies. Results included a table clustering initiatives to help participants select appropriate roles and responsibilities.
- The Pres Ed table identifies areas in which training is needed, who should be trained, how they should be trained, and how this should be supported. For instance, with regard to what needs to be taught, the group recommended (and the Library is addressing), the following areas: digital preservation challenges (through scientific research and convenings of cross-disciplinary specialists), expanded preservation and conservation responsibilities (through internships, workshops and web resources), need for education and training in high priority topics (preservation of film and recorded sound, disaster planning and mutual assistance charters), and erosion of conservation treatment skills (through internships, virtual treatment training with haptic technology, and cataloging the state of knowledge for book conservation and other specialties). With regard to who needs to be trained, the group identified (and the Library is addressing) the need to develop awareness beyond the professional preservation/conservation fields (done with FLICC, research scientists and other disciplines), as well as to increase diversity in the conservation field (supported through multicultural internships with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, and the visiting scientist program). With regard to how to enhance preservation education, the group noted (and the Library addresses) the need to strengthen faculty and mechanisms for preservation/conservation education (done through the Library’s haptic research, activities with Catholic University of America, video demos and online curricula), as well as to increase and strengthen internships and post-graduate training (done through the Directorate’s expanded and specialized internship in AV and science disciplines). With regard to support for preservation education, the group stressed the need to develop funding, policy, and support for preservation, which the Library has done through developing a guide to foundation funding, and seeking grants, donations and endowments for training.
- On July 24-25, senior preservation scientists representing 30 institutions attended the Library's "Summit of Research Scientists (SORS)". The Symposium was supported by grants from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the Foundation of the American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, and NCPTT. Scientists of long-standing renown, led by the Library's Chief of Preservation Research and Testing, reported on innovative work and technology transfers in their laboratories, as well as staff and equipment upgrades that will advance preservation of traditional, audiovisual, and digital media. The Library shared designs for its new laboratories for optical, chemical and mechanical testing (which upgrade the labs to comply with standards for eco-friendly "green" technology), as well as its development of a scientific reference sample center, housing the Library's invaluable collections of Barrow Books, Forbes Pigments, and TAPPI Paper Fibers. The symposium focused on developing consensus-based research objectives and collaborations to maximize efficiency and efforts. Results included a cluster-table database of complementary activities among the participants to enhance research strategies and foster mutual cooperation, and a website utilizing social-networking communication tools to facilitate scientific communications.
- The SORS table confirms special needs in several areas that the Library leads. With regard to object substrates and media in need of study, the group identified (and the Library is addressing) paper (degradation, aging studies, environmental interaction; volatile organic compounds; trace elements; deacidification; object studies; recycled paper), parchment (analytical characterization and dating; shrinkage temperature; ink interaction; object studies), plastic polymers (cellulose acetate laminates; analogue AV and magnetic tapes with sticky shed, CD/DVD, RW; sound recordings), iron gall ink (identification, monitoring; treatment effects and development; Fe migration and oxidation state; x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF) and hyperspectral examination), and various colorants. With regard to storage and environmental issues, the group identified (and the Library is addressing) volatile organic compounds (studied by the Library’s direct analysis in real time time-of-flight mass spectrometer (DART) system and mass spectrometry techniques), anoxic environments (as in the Library’s "Visual Storage" argon cases and development of low-oxygen systems; aging studies; environmental standards; and quality assurance of storage and display materials). With regard to technology transfer, the group identified (and the Library addresses) imaging (hyperspectral and polynomial texture mapping), 14C Dating (of parchment and gelatin), methodology (for DART, 3D-fluorescence spectroscopy and imaging) and education and dissemination (through library and archive outreach and TOPS public lecture series). With regard to establishing reference collections, the Library’s development of the Barrow Books, Forbes Pigments and TAPPI Paper Sample Collections was lauded.
In addition to the invitational symposia, the Directorate continued to lead in outreach and aiding the general public. Six lectures for the “Topics in Preservation Science” (TOPS) series, which is provided pro bono to the Library by world-renown scientists and is free and open to the public, covered the following: CAMEO - A Free Internet Encyclopedia on Materials Used in the Production and Conservation of the Human Record, Recent Trends in Preservation of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Research Design for Preservation Science, Preservation Tools and Training in the Digital Age, Hyperspectral Imaging of the Waldseemüller 1507 World Map, and Radiocarbon Dating of Museum Objects. The series is videotaped for uploading to the Library’s website. A new initiative is that in FY 2009 the TOPS series will also be simulcast remotely to individuals via the Library’s Elluminator system.
Preservation scientists and conservators updated 14 research projects on the Library's website, covering environmental studies (such as anoxic encasements and visual storage); technology transfer (Haptic Technology for Use in Conservation Training, Direct Analysis in Real Time Mass Spectrometry); and preservation of traditional, audiovisual, and digital materials (Mass Deacidification, 100 Year Paper Natural Aging Program, Paper Strengthening through Paper Splitting, Iron Gall Ink Corrosion, Zeolites, Imaging of Laterally and Vertically Grooved Analog Audio Recordings, Magnetic Tape "Sticky Shed" Research, and Longevity of Digital CD ROM, CD-R and DVD-R RW).
Workforce and Operational Updates: The Preservation Directorate progressed toward several benchmarks throughout FY2008 in ongoing efforts to develop staff and tools needed for increasingly complex preservation issues facing traditional, audiovisual, and digital collections. Efforts included hiring four new science PhD staff and a new BCCD Section Head, as well as keeping as base-staff former MDEP preservation specialists and technicians; expanding programs for visiting scholars and scientists and multicultural science students; moving 30 pieces of delicate analytical equipment in preparation for construction of the Directorate’s scientific optical properties lab, which will have new capabilities to track changes in optical properties of materials (with a new environmental scanning electron microscope and other imaging systems), and in preparation for the new scientific chemical and mechanical properties laboratory, which will have new capabilities to track changes in chemical and mechanical properties (including a new TAPPI Standards room); and establishing a new materials science reference collection, centered around the rare and valuable Barrow Books, Forbes Pigments and TAPPI Papers.
Staff took Introductory “Digital Imaging Training” to address the impact of the shift from film-based to digital photography on conservation treatment documentation. The Conservation Division provided two days of comprehensive hands-on training to all CD staff on image capture, image editing, metadata, and the theory and practice of digital image management.
A seminal year: Highlights included treatment of Ben Franklin’s copy of the First Continental Congress, 1774 Petition to the King, and George Washington’s December 23, 1783, letter to Congress regarding his resignation from the Army. In addition, conservators treated approximately 20 volumes for the opening of the Thomas Jefferson’s Library exhibit. Staff also worked overtime treating and helping install Kislak artifacts in the 'Exploring the Early Americas' exhibition.
Preservation Directorate Staff produced a half dozen posters, two dozen publications and over 40 presentations, covering a record 10 topics at the American Institute for Conservation annual meeting alone, ranging from investigations and treatment of Ethiopic bindings, Hindu portraits on mica, and the Gandhara scroll; to iron gall ink treatments, the argon encasement of America’s birth certificate Waldseemüller Map, and classification and treatment of foxing; through advances in CD longevity research, 2D imaging of laterally grooved sound recordings, 3D imaging of vertically grooved sound recordings, and haptic technology transfer for training conservators.
Staff also trained 5 interns and over 500 professionals through inhouse and offsite courses, lectures and workshops in salvage of collections and other principles of preservation. Staff responded to 650 inquiries received through Question Point and gave 59 tours to 385 people of the various activities taking place in the Preservation Directorate. Visitors included preservation professionals and students, representatives from the media, Members of Congress, and donor groups.
Risk mitigation and response: To further safeguard and preserve the content of the Library’s collections, the Directorate expended efforts and resources to image, and refine argon encasements, of five treasures including the 1507 Waldseemüller Map; enhance IRENE 2-D and 3-D scanning of endangered sound recordings; hire expert staff; secure equipment in preparation for upgrading the science labs for optical, physical and chemical analysis, as well as for bio-infestation abatement; clear space for lab renovations; and beta test a web-based environmental monitoring system. Directorate staff trained 41 archivists, librarians, and similar professionals at the University of Miami and Wolfsonian in salvage techniques, and worked with allied professionals from other federal libraries to build a collaborative safety net of institutions to protect collections and establish continuity of operations plans.
A new initiative involved the evaluation and documentation in greater detail of the condition of the Library’s Top Treasures, which are a specially designated group of materials rating specific resource allotments by the Library. Master files for each Top Treasure were established and compiled to incorporate historic information on treatment, acquisitions, and exhibitions. In addition, the Martin Waldseemüller 1507 World Map, one of the highlights of the 'Exploring the Early Americas' exhibit, was protected by a case specially designed to keep out harmful oxygen. This anoxic encasement, the largest ever built, is the culmination of three years work by conservators, scientists, curators and many other staff and contractors. Conservation staff was instrumental in mounting the map, preparing the encasement interior, and transporting the map to the NW Pavilion. The map is now safely stored in an argon environment continuously monitored by preservation scientists.
In response to damage to personal and public collections caused by the outbreak of fires, earthquakes and mud slides in CA; floods in the Midwest; and hurricanes in the Southeast, staff developed dozens of web resources on emergency mitigation and salvage for collections confronted by specific calamities, to be issued as alerts on the Library's homepage at time-appropriate intervals.