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65th IFLA Council and General
|Platinum||The most priceless items, also referred to as the Top Treasures. An example is the contents of Abraham Lincoln's pockets on the night of his assassination.|
|Gold||Rare items having prohibitive replacement cost, high market value, and significant cultural, historical, and/or artifactual importance.|
|Bronze||The general research collections.|
|Copper||Items that are not retained permanently.|
USE is measured by the frequency of circulation (internal or external); assignment to a reference collection; degree of shifting and other processing of the item; or need for exhibition. CONDITION is assessed by noting whether the item is damaged or not intact, poorly housed, or on an unstable medium.
Table 4. PRESERVATION PRIORITIES
Table is unavailable. Please contact author.
The matrix you see here shows the intersection of the three criteria (VALUE, USE, and CONDITION) which determine preservation priorities. By using this approach, LC is able to ensure that items are selected for treatment which are both worthy (due to content) and vulnerable (due to condition and past or future use). We refer to this approach as «Fitness for Purpose.» In other words, an item of high value in poor condition or on an unstable medium which is used or exhibited on a regular basis would receive a «Rolls Royce» treatment, while a newspaper which is also acquired in microform would be allowed to deteriorate. Applying this matrix minimizes the «cart-before-the-horse» phenomenon which occurs when a popular treatment option (e.g., preservation microfilming, digitization) drives the selection process instead of the reverse.
The platinum collections, because of their extreme rarity, are given the highest priority regardless of use or condition. Often they receive «duplicate» treatment, meaning the original is given intensive conservation treatment, it is stored in a custom microclimate, and surrogates are made. The item you see here is an architectural drawing of the U.S. Capitol building from the Washingtoniana Collection. Treatment included removal of poor quality backings, washing, and construction of custom housing.
The gold collections are further prioritized by frequency of use and state of deterioration (condition). The George Washington Papers, for example, are routinely studied by historians (high use) but they are in good condition on a stable medium (good quality paper). Therefore, stabilization is indicated (Category 3). However, another gold collection item, a wax cylinder recording by Thomas Edison, is considered more vulnerable or at risk because it is frequently exhibited (high use) and on an unstable medium (poor condition). Thus it is placed in Category 2 and given surrogate and stabilization treatment.
The gold and bronze collections are the main focus of LC's stabilization efforts. Because of the vast size of these collections, an economical approach such as stabilization is a necessity. Table 5 shows the relationship between the preservation priorities and the four treatment categories.
Table 5. Preservation Priorities and Treatment Options
Table is unavailable. Please contact author.
Now that the context has been established, I would like to talk in greater detail about three of the collections conservation treatment options: binding, boxing, and mass deacidification. (Storage is covered ably by my colleagues on the panel.)
For the bronze (general) collections, the Library of Congress feels it is necessary to bind paperbacks as acquired for the following reasons: (1) poor quality publishers' binding; (2) crowded conditions in the stacks; (3) lack of online holdings records to verify that other copies are held. We do not bind paperbacks which receive minimal-level cataloging. There are also categories of materials which are not «bindable.» These include those that have artifactual value, those that have accompanying material in another format, those whose margin is inadequate, or those that are made of a material that is too stiff or slick to bind. In these cases, a protective enclosure is constructed instead.
The fitness for purpose philosophy applies also to categories of library binding. The Library of Congress contracts with a commercial library binder to provide different products or styles of binding. Staff sort the incoming paperbacks and unbound serial issues into these styles based on existing physical structure (whether in signature format or single sheets, for example) and projected use. This series of slides [Olga: I'm sending these as a separate WordPerfect file.] shows the range of products and their cost. Note the three categories: custom, standard, and economy. These are used to make distinctions between products which meet the NISO/LBI Standard for Library Binding and those which do not. «Standard» binding meets the requirements; «Custom» binding exceeds the requirements; and, «Economy» binding falls below the standard requirements. The turnaround time is four weeks, with an option for rush binding on a two-week schedule.
Increasingly, economy binding is relied upon for lesser-used materials. The binding method (or method of leaf attachment) is the same as in Standard Binding. Savings are realized by using a less durable covering material (e.g., bookcloth rather than buckram) and by using a flat-back structure rather than rounding and backing.
The United States is fortunate to have a very strong trade association, the Library Binding Institute, which works closely with preservation librarians to maintain high quality at a reasonable cost. In order to stay competitive in the library binding market, commercial binders are making constant improvements. Many cost savings have been achieved in recent years through the enhancement of automated processes for capturing bibliographic information without rekeying it. LC is now using the Z39.50 gateway to download author, title, and call number information to the binder's automation system, eliminating all printing errors. This becomes important when you understand the sheer size of the Library's binding program. The Library ships approximately 5,000 volumes each week to the contract binder.
To complement the library binding program, LC also has several in-house binding options for bronze collections. Pamphlet binding is done by collections care technician staff, using preservation-quality binders purchased in a variety of standard sizes. Single-signature pamphlets are sewn in a Figure 8 stitch into the binder, making the procedure non-invasive and completely reversible. «Stiffening» is an in-house technique used for annual serials or other high use, short life span items. The process involves affixing a 20-point board and a Tyvek hinge to the inside front and back covers of a paperback volume to provide support for the text block. This treatment is reserved for items which are needed by users immediately and cannot be out of circulation the length of time required for commercial binding. Because this type of material also becomes outdated quickly, there is no need to be concerned about providing a hardcover for long-term use.
The Library of Congress estimates that it costs 500% more to microfilm a volume after it has become embrittled than to deacidify it when the paper is still strong. This philosophy has driven our aggressive program to mass deacidify large portions of our collections. Following a lengthy period of research and testing, LC established a contract with Preservation Technologies Limited Partnership (PTLP) to use the firm's Bookkeeper process to treat materials through 2001. To date, LC has deacidified over 200,000 books from its permanent collections. A new testing phase has begun to evaluate the efficacy of treating manuscript and archival materials using PTLP's new chamber designed for this purpose.
The types of materials selected for treatment include: high use, good condition, gold; high use, poor condition, bronze; low use, poor condition, bronze; and high use, good condition, bronze. Within these criteria, the focus is on Americana materials central to the mission of the Library. Treatment has been completed for the following classes:
Treatment is scheduled for the following classes:
So far the emphasis has been on retrospective collections. In the next contract period, LC will begin treating collections at the point of acquisition, particularly those materials acquired through LC's field offices.
Another important stabilization option is the construction of protective enclosures. Enclosures are used in the following circumstances:
The Library of Congress is fortunate to own an automated box-making machine which makes it possible to stabilize major parts of our collections. There are similar machines in St. Petersburg, Russia, and the Netherlands. The machine can produce either a phase box, clam-shell box, or a wrapper. The next series of slides will illustrate how it operates.
The operator enters the dimensions of the book into a laptop computer either by typing in the height, width, and depth, or by scanning these measurements into the laptop using an electronic measuring device. Author/title/call number information needed for later labeling is keyed into the laptop at this time as well.
The measuring and labeling information collected in the database on the laptop is then imported to the desktop computer attached to the box-making machine. The list of book measurements is displayed on the screen of the computer. The operator selects a group. The box shapes are then displayed on the computer screen. The operator arranges the box shapes to minimize the material waste. Typically, 8-10 boxes can be produced from a single sheet of board (assuming the books are of standard size).
The operator then loads a 4' x 8' sheet of archival board onto the machine bed. The machine's rollers pull the sheet into place. The operator selects "Run Group" which starts the box-making process. The computer program controls the machine. The machine's rollers move the sheet back and forth in the machine, allowing the sheet to be cut, creased, or marked in the correct location. This is done by the tool head which slides back and forth on a rail. Tools in the tool head include a cutter, a creaser and a pen which adds a control number to each box. The order of the machine operation is: mark, crease, then cut Box 1; mark, crease, then cut Box 2; until all boxes on an individual sheet are completed. After all machine movement has ceased, the operator presses a button on the screen labeled "Fast Forward" and the machine rollers unload the 4' x 8' sheet.
Each (flat) box is separated manually from the 4' x 8' sheet. The flat boxes are then folded and assembled, ready to match with the book.
A third computer in the box-making system is used to produce a spine label from data imported from the database on the laptop. The same control number marked on each box by the box-making machine is also printed on the spine label, allowing the label and box to be matched at the end point of assembly.
LC also purchases a wide variety of standard-size enclosures. These enclosures are even more cost effective than the automated, custom-fitted boxes, although use of the standard sizes is restricted to materials which would not suffer mechanical damage. Specifications for each type and size of enclosure approved by LC's conservation and research & testing staff are described in this catalog. Some are custom designs which have been developed by working in consort with vendors and manufacturers. In the near future LC will add specifications to the catalog for the range of acceptable label products.
The emphasis on stabilization measures as the cornerstone of LC's preservation program allows more items to be protected - a less-is-more philosophy, if you will. Application of the use/condition/value criteria is critical in helping us to know where to place scarce staff resources. LC's collections conservation program is not yet fully developed. More conservation technicians are needed, yet there are few trained conservation technicians in the market place. As the preservation profession matures, the emphasis on collections conservation and the role of technician-level staff will increase.
Library of Congress FY00 prices
Binding & Collections Care Division