PARS Committee and Interest Group Reports, Annual 2015

ALCTS committees and interest groups submit reports to the ALCTS Office after each conference. Following are the reports submitted by the Preservation & Reformatting Section (PARS) committees and interest groups.

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee met at the 2015 Annual Meeting in San Francisco on Monday, June 29. Norm Medeiros (ALCTS President-Elect) and Mary Page (ALCTS President) congratulated PARS on the excellent work of Preservation Week. We reviewed our streamlined Midwinter Meeting and decided to eliminate the gaps in schedule through consolidation of events on Saturday and early Sunday. The Service Project Working Group gave a report. After receiving support for a service project component of annual, they will be running a pilot project at the 2016 Annual Conference in Orlando. The New Member Working Group’s Trading Cards were a hit that we hope to repeat next year, hopefully subsidizing cards for new members. The Programs, Planning, and Publication Committee had several successful programs this year. They will be looking at reviewing the Cost Analysis publication, as well as updating the Preservation Education Directory to include conservation programs. Preservation Standards and Practice helped with outreach for the ALA Preservation Statistics survey and had recommendations for future surveys, including developing a glossary for some of the terms. Hilary Seo agreed to review the qualifications for the Jan Merrill Oldham award and make recommendations regarding explicit language regarding conservation and moving image program graduate students. The following topics were postponed to virtual discussions: PARS Five Year Review, Documentation of PARS institutional history, selection of activities from ALCTS Strategic Plan to work on this year, and the Executive Committee’s continued support for Preservation Statistics, especially those ARL institutions that are still not filling out the data.

--Submitted by Kara McClurken

Preservation Standards & Practices

The Preservation Standards & Practices Committee (PSP) met during the 2015 ALA Annual Conference on Monday, June 29. Discussion items included:

Preservation Statistics Survey

Our committee focused on contacting preservation staff at independent libraries, to get them to complete the survey. We discussed this year’s PARS Forum, which was devoted to surveys. PSP agreed to review the questions and instructions and offer feedback, preferably off cycle and before the end of this calendar year. The committee recommends minimizing changes from year to year to make the data longitudinal. In discussing the survey instructions, a suggestion emerged for compiling a comprehensive glossary of preservation and conservation terms. For example, how are pamphlet bindings counted - are those enclosures or bindings? Perhaps the definition depends on whether the item is physically attached to the enclosure.

NISO Standards Reviews

NISO Permanent Paper standard. NISO put out a press release in late February or early March to call for members to join the group. They received a surfeit of responses from the library community. The process hasn’t moved forward yet.

The NISO Library Binding standard is up next for review. That has gone through the Collection & Content Management committee, which agreed it needs to be reviewed. It was moved forward once before. That process is a year behind Permanent Paper.

Reports from Interest Groups

The following provided brief reports on their meetings at annual: Book & Paper, Digital Conversion and Digital Preservation.

Activities for the coming year

PSP will continue to work with preservation statistics team, give significant feedback on the questionnaire and the definitions and instructions document. We got 84 responses with the push.

Tammy Fishman brought up the Federal Information Preservation Network (FIPNET) calling on depositories to start preserving their collections. This may turn out to be an appropriate topic for an ALA conference program.

--Submitted by Dawn Aveline

Book and Paper Interest Group

The PARS Book & Paper Interest Group (BPIG)and the Association for College and Research Libraries Rare Books and Manuscript Section (RBMS) Curators and Conservators Discussion Group (CCDG) combined forces this year to present a panel titled "Artists' Books: A Discussion of issues relating to their creation, acquisition, preservation and access in libraries." The panel took place during the 2015 ALA Annual Conference on Sunday, June 28, with 37 people in attendance.

Panelists included:

  • Art Hazlewood (Artist)
  • Lori Dekydtspotter (University of Indiana Bloomington)
  • Sandra Kroupa (University of Washington)
  • Beth Doyle (Duke University Libraries (co-chair BPIG))


  • Rebecca Holte (co-chair PBIG, New York Public Library)
  • Beth Kilmarx (co-chair CCDG, Binghamton University)

Hazlewood discussed his artwork, which uses books as a medium to explore political and social issues. Dekydtspotter discussed the complexities of cataloging artist books in special collections. Kroupa discussed using artist books in the classroom and in instruction sessions. Doyle discussed the challenges artist books present to preservation and conservation professionals. 

A total of 23 attendees signed our list (but more came into the room late; we counted 31 plus the 6 co-chairs/presenters). We asked the audience to note whether they were RBMS or PARS members. They reported the following:

  • RBMS: 10
  • PARS: 8
  • Both: 3
  • Neither: 2

Jeanne Goodman (conservator, Texas A&M) will join Rebecca Holte as the Book and Paper Interest Group co-chair for 2015-2016. Beth Kilmarx is continuing on as chair of RBMS Curators and Conservators.

Since this combined interest group meeting was so successful, we hope to create another joint session with the Curators and Conservators Discussion Group for the 2016 ALA Annual Conference.

--Submitted by Beth Doyle

Digital Preservation Interest Group

The Digital Preservation Interest Group met during the 2015 ALA Annual Conference on Sunday, June 28. There were forty people in attendance. The meeting consisted of three presentations, as follows:

“On Choosing a Preservation File Format for Video: ‘TIFFs are too big to store,’ or ‘We Used JPEGs and Nobody Died’” by George Blood (President, George Blood, L.P.)

What librarian hasn’t struggled with storage capacity? Ever larger library buildings and ever higher data densities have not solved the fundamental problem in the cultural heritage field: Information takes up space. Care in acquisition and prudent deaccessioning help, but stuff keeps coming. While storage becomes more efficient and cheaper every day, the fact that it will be easy to store digital video in 20 years doesn’t help us today; in 20 years most legacy video formats will be inaccessible as machines die of old age. What then do we do now? If you cannot afford 10-bit uncompressed files (at a whopping 100GB per hour), and you lack the information technology infrastructure to support JPEG2000/MXF, how are you to preserve video today? This talk explored some of the considerations on the slippery slope of choosing a compressed format for storing moving image collections.

“What goes where? Bringing a new repository online at the Ohio State University Libraries” by Emily Shaw (Head, Preservation and Reformatting)

Like most libraries, the Ohio State University Libraries did not enter the digital library sphere with clear policies and a unified, interoperable infrastructure for managing all of our digital collections. The Libraries has a long-standing commitment to making our unique collections accessible to the campus and global communities and maintains an expertly managed and curated Institutional Repository (the Knowledge Bank). But for more than a decade, OSU’s digital collections developed in response to the requirements of specific projects. Thus, for the past several years, the OSU Libraries has been investing heavily in the planning and development of a robust repository infrastructure to enhance access, management and preservation of digital collections of all types. This presentation provided an overview of our planning process and shared some of the workflow documentation currently under development.

“Letting somebody else do it” by Frances Harrell (Preservation Specialist, Northeast Document Conservation Center)

In 2014 The Jamaica Plain Tuesday Club (JPTC), an all-volunteer history and culture organization in Boston, had a selection of their archives digitized by the Boston Public Library, the images transferred to the Digital Commonwealth preservation repository, and the associated metadata aggregated by the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). As this model of aggregation grows through the influence of the DPLA, small organizations like this with digital collections will increasingly depend on their colleagues at larger institutions to shoulder the burden of long-term preservation. Using the JPTC as a case study, this talk took the perspective of the small organizations who want to see their collections increase in reach and impact, and raised some of the difficult questions the preservation field faces in attempting to steward the digital heritage of these limited-resource compatriots.

--Submitted by Frances Harrell

Preservation Administrators Interest Group

The Preservation Administrators Interest Group (PAIG) met during the 2015 ALA Annual Conference on Saturday, June 27, with 50 people in attendance to hear five presentations.

Michael Foley (Manager, UC Library Bindery) presented on “Librarians and Bookbinders; working collaboratively for the better preservation of books.” He advocated for better collaboration between librarians and bookbinders to develop solutions that will enhance print collection preservation. There has been a downward trend in library binding resulting in fewer bookbinders servicing libraries. High barriers to entry and low profit margins dissuade newcomers from initiating business with libraries. The remaining larger binderies are often located at a great distance from the libraries, which increase risks to collection during transport and add additional costs. The speaker advocated for libraries to work with local binderies and encourage collaborative innovation in product development including rethinking traditional library binding practices.

Barclay Ogden (Director of Preservation, UC Berkeley) & Mark Roosa (Dean of Libraries, Pepperdine University) spoke on “Making a Difference: Building Skills for 21st Century Library Preservation.” They reported on their 2015 survey of preservation professionals on digital preservation. The survey queried both the participants’ interest and current level of participation in digital preservation work in their institutions. According to the survey results the vast majority of preservation administrators are interested and involved in digital preservation. The involvement and responsibility of preservation administrators varies among institutions from managing digitization projects to defining digital preservation policy and overseeing digital preservation processes. A broad discussion was led by Ogden and Roosa that centered on both the staffing and continued educational needs of preservation administrators in order for them to address the additional responsibility that digital preservation requires.

Maria LaCalle (Web Archivist, Partner Services Internet Archive) presented on “Archiving and Preservation of Web-based Content.” She discussed case studies of institutions using the Internet Archive for web archiving and described the tools and services Internet Archives offers. Recently developed tools such as Umbra allow for better capture of social media and interactive components of webpages. There is an interest from collecting institutions to capture comments and have a record of how websites change over time. Other institutions are using services as records management tools as their webpages are institutional records.

Kate Contakos (Conservator, Harry Ransom Center (HRC), University of Texas at Austin) spoke on “Surveying the Pforzheimer Collection at the Harry Ransom Center.” She reported on a conservation survey she is conducting on printed books in the Carl H. Pforzheimer Library at the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin. The project builds on and complements previous surveys completed by conservation and curatorial staff at the HRC. The survey is both broad and deep, serving as a conservation needs assessment as well as a collaborative effort between conservation, technical services, and curatorial staff to improve the access to a significant collection. Data collected in the survey includes condition and material information as well as specific information about ownership markings and marginalia. The survey results will inform cataloging, conservation, and digitization projects.

Annie Peterson (Preservation Librarian, Tulane University) presented on “Planning for Collaborative Preservation in New Orleans.” An IMLS National Leadership Grant was awarded to study the preservation needs among New Orleans area cultural heritage institutions. Peterson reported on the historic lack of collections care and conservation staff within institutions in the New Orleans area. Nine representatives from libraries, archives, and museums collaborated in the grant to investigate needs and explore solutions. The project connected representatives from nine institutions with preservation consultants in a variety of specializations. In addition to completing a needs assessment, the project funded participants and consultants to visit each other’s institutions and businesses to exchange information. Collaborative preservation models were explored and described. A report on the project will be forthcoming.

--Submitted by Scott Reinke

Preservation Metadata Interest Group

The Preservation Metadata Interest Group met during the 2015 ALA Annual Conference on Saturday, June 27, with 40 people in attendance. During a brief business meeting an election was held to determine who would serve as co-chair once Chelcie Rowell rotates off. The candidates were Daniel Johnson (Digital Preservation Librarian, University of Iowa Libraries) and Jenny Mullins (Digital Preservation Librarian, Dartmouth College Library). Jenny Mullins was elected to serve as co-chair from July 2015–June 2017. A program followed which focused on pragmatic implementations of preservation metadata for two tricky content types: web archives and digital media art objects. The program included two presentations:

“Don't WARC Away: Preservation Metadata for Web Archives” by Maria LaCalle (Web Archivist, Internet Archive) and Jefferson Bailey (Director of Web Archiving Programs, Internet Archive)

Abstract: As more institutions include web archives in their digital collections, creating preservation metadata to support the long term stewardship of these files is a newly emerging challenge. Archive-It, a web archiving service of the Internet Archive, works with over 360 partner institutions across the globe, providing tools for harvesting, managing, and accessing archived web content. This talk will explore how Archive-It partners incorporate preservation metadata into their web archiving programs, the development of tools and workflows to support this work, and the unique challenges web archives present to digital preservation metadata.

“In the Service of Art: Metadata for Preservation of Digital Artworks” by Jason Kovari (Head of Metadata Services, Cornell University)

Abstract: In February 2013, the Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art, part of Cornell University Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, received a $300,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to develop PAFDAO (Preservation and Access Frameworks for Complex Digital Media Art Objects). PAFDAO’s test collection includes more than 300 interactive born-digital artworks created for CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, and web distribution, many of which date back to the early 1990s. Though vitally important to understanding the development of media art and aesthetics over the past two decades, these materials are at serious risk of degradation and are unreadable without obsolete computers and software. This talk will reference the larger workflow of the project and how metadata decisions were made in order to ensure long-term preservation and use of these complex digital media art objects, most of which contain many elaborate interdependencies.

--Submitted by Chelcie Rowell

Promoting Preservation Interest Group

The Promoting Preservation Interest Group (PPIG) met during the 2015 ALA Annual Conference on Sunday, June 28, with 15 people in attendance.

The PPIG session focused on community-based preservation and outreach efforts around audiovisual collections. Even in large and well-resourced institutions, these materials face significant risk of loss due to a variety of factors (AV preservation's best new word: degralescence, a combination of media degradation and equipment obsolescence). The threat of loss is greater for personal collections or those held by small organizations like local public libraries. The first talk in this session presented some of the issues small organizations face, as well as tools developed for free use by the Bay Area Video Coalition to assist in overcoming some of these skill and resource gaps. The second talk focused on a survey of regional audiovisual holdings across the US performed through the Association of Moving Image Archivists. The discussion largely focused upon survey methods and future surveying plans. Additionally, Jessica Bitely announced her rotation off of the interest group. Katie Risseeuw will be joined by Eva Grizzard as co-chair.

--Submitted by Jessica Bitely