PARS Committees and Interest Groups: 2017 Annual Conference

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

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee met during the 2017 ALA Annual Conference on Monday, June 26.

The Web Working Group chair, Jessica Phillips, reported on ways to determine new PARS members: at ALCTS 101, self-identify at Preservation Administrators Interest Group meeting, and checking with Keri on new memberships. A goal for next year is to update the trading cards.

Sean Buckner also sent a report from the Web Working Group, noting that the Preservation Education Directory has been converted from a static PDF document to a dynamic web page and outlining an action plan for the upcoming year. With the help of Brooke Morris and a Library of Congress intern, ALA's Disaster Preparedness web page has been updated. Preservation Week's website still needs updating.

Jeanne Drewes reported on the Oral History Project Working Group. Jeanne has conducted interviews with library binders. The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress will house the interviews in its Occupational Folklife Project. A category for librarians is planned. Preservation practitioners will be interviewed.

Julie Mosbo and Carmen Cowick reported for the Programs, Planning, and Publications (PPP) Committee. Possible ideas for future programs include fundamentals of digital preservation, HVAC for dummies, and preservation metadata.

Jeanne Goodman reported for the Preservation Standards and Practices (PS&P) Committee. PS&P is taking responsibility for the Preservation Statistics survey. Discussion ensued on how to promote the survey and encourage participation. Suzy Morgan will be the coordinator working with PS&P members and a PPP liaison. PS&P also worked on ALCTS guidelines for depositing in the ALA Institutional Repository (ALAIR), submitting the documents to the Executive Committee and recommending the use of the guidelines developed by a 2016 team ALA Emerging Leaders as part of the “Developing an Archiving Program for MAGIRT” project pending further review of the metadata documentation by an expert group.

Kris Kern reported on Sunday’s PARS Forum entitled “Preservation Projects in the Community: Performing Arts Readiness and Preservation in Action,” which was also reported by Ann C. Kearney in ALCTS News. Katie Risseeuw talked about the Preservation in Action event on Friday, June 23, and Tom Clareson presented on the Performing Arts Readiness project.

Jeanne Drewes will serve as an informal liaison to the Special Libraries Association (SLA) Emergency Preparedness Recovery Advisory Council (ERPAC) and will seek an opportunity to formalize the liaison role.

As the liaison to the Committee on Archives, Libraries, and Museums (CALM) Jeanne Drewes reported that the Society of American Archivists will no longer participate in CALM.

Submitted by Kris Kern

Book and Paper Interest Group

The Book and Paper Interest Group met during the 2017 ALA Annual Conference on Sunday, June 25 with approximately 27 people in attendance.

Co-chair Jeanne Goodman and Beth Doyle, both Co-Chairs, moderated three areas of discussion around the preservation topic “Risky Collections: Preservation, Access, and Issues of Diversity and Inclusion.” The format was 3 lightning rounds of 5 minutes each, followed by moderated Q&A and discussion for 15 minutes after each round. The session concluded with general discussion.

Beth Doyle presented the first round on “Preservation Decisions: Balancing the Materiality and Access Needs of Problematic Items.” Using examples from special collection materials from Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Beth showcased examples of how access to restricted materials is addressed in Duke’s conservation lab. Notable is one treatment using opaque mending tissue to redact confidential information on some collections materials. The mending tissue is completely and easily reversible but remains opaque even in transmitted light. Key discussion topics brought up within the group included:

  • Who decides what is offensive? Is it the role of the preservation department to make that call?
  • How do you provide access to materials that contain sensitive or legally problematic information?
  • What do you do when it seems the solution for mitigating the preservation risk for an item makes it difficult or interferes with access to the item?
  • Are there policies regarding the emotional labor involved in working with these types of materials? The consensus was that it should absolutely be considered and is done on a case-by-case basis by project and employee.

Jeanne Goodman presented the second round on “Access for Classroom and Reading Room: Policies, Procedures and Workarounds.” Using a single case study of rehousing materials from Texas A&M University Libraries, Jeanne mapped the year-long life cycle of the housing and access of a small group of items bringing up issues of efficiency, communication, and unconscious bias when working with these materials. Key discussion topics brought up within the group included:

  • How can we balance our role as research institutions with our desire to be respectful of the cultures that these objects come from? What happens when your collecting policy or mission conflicts with a culture’s perspective on how things should be used and handled?
  • What are special considerations for staff working with these materials?
  • Reading room layouts are a factor for access and the workarounds used by staff.
  • The designation of “sensitive” materials must be a continuous and evolving conversation.
  • Naming the collection: responsible and discreet versus nondescript and camouflaging?

Jeanne Goodman introduced the third round on “Current Climate in the Preservation and Conservation Profession: How are Issues of Diversity and Inclusion Being Addressed?” This discussion included a report of activities from Jennifer Hain-Teper, chair of the newly minted Equity and Inclusion Working Group of the American Institute of Conservation (AIC). Their activities to date include:

  • establishing a relationship between AIC and the Concerned Conservators Group
  • submitting a “Statement on Equity and Inclusion” and a new “Core Value” to the AIC Board of Directors, both approved by the Board in April 2017
  • developing a website for the Working Group
  • requesting monetary support for the Concerned Conservators to facilitate discussion during the AIC Annual Conference

Representatives of the group have also reached out to para-organizations by attending the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) meeting in St. Louis—the theme of which was diversity in museums—and coordinating a meeting with the Director of the ALA Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services (ODLOS). Resources mentioned included “Race, Diversity and Politics in Conservation: Our 21st Century Crisis” by Sanchita Balchandran, as well as the program “Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice in Technical Services” co-sponsored by ALCTS, the American Indian Library Association, and the Public Library Association.

Beth Doyle (Duke University Libraries) and Priscilla Anderson (Harvard University Libraries) will serve as co-chairs of the interest group for 2017–2018.

Submitted by Jeanne Goodman

Digital Conversion Interest Group

The Digital Conversion Interest Group met during the 2017 ALA Annual Conference on Saturday, June 24 with approximately 30 people in attendance. The group hosted five presentations on current trends and projects as they relate to digitization and digital migration of library collections.

Matt Richardson (University of Houston) spoke on "Changing Channels: Adapting an Ecosystem for Audiovisual Assets." The University of Houston (UH) Libraries is in the process of implementing a new digital curation ecosystem. The project, Bayou City DAMS (Digital Asset Management System), incorporates a combination of locally developed and open-source solutions to streamline and integrate access and preservation workflows. When UH Libraries was awarded a grant to digitize and make available over 300 videos from a local TV station, the preservation and access of audiovisual objects moved from a long-term goal to a high priority. This presentation addresses the challenges introduced by very large video files and how the team—composed of members of Metadata and Digitization Services, Special Collections, and Library Technology Services—employed agile methodologies to adapt workflows and systems.

Alice Pearman (Plymouth State University) presented "Digitizing Oral History Cassettes: In-House, On the Cheap." Pearman described a collection of 20 oral histories recorded on cassette tape between 1978–1980. She explained how, as a new librarian without a staff or a budget, she reached out to other departments on campus to cobble together what she needed to digitize the cassettes. Specifically, she borrowed a Marantz professional digital audio recorder Plymouth State’s Classroom Technology Services to convert the cassettes to a digital format; used the university’s Adobe site license to access Adobe Audition for editing and creating access files; and used the copy machine at the library’s reference desk to scan typewritten transcripts of each oral history (black and white, 600 dots per inch). This boutique collection, representing K–12 education in New Hampshire throughout the 20th century (and even one interview from someone who taught in the 1890s) is available in the Plymouth State Historical Collection.

Andy Uhrich (Indiana University) spoke on "Technological and Archival Considerations in Adding Film to a Preexisting Video Digitization Project." This presentation reported on collaborations between librarians, digital preservationists, programmers, and information technology (IT) experts to add film digitization to the already in-progress video and audio digitization taking place within the Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative at Indiana University, with a specific focus on the IT side of the initiative. The presentation detailed efforts to increase the storage space and bandwidth needed for the larger file sizes of film scanned at 2K and 4K, how those limits shape the speed at which films can be scanned, the collective decision to use a different codec for film than for video, and how lessons learned from performing quality control of audio and video needed to be altered for performing quality control of film.

Amy Belotti (Chicago Film Archives) presented "Now in Hi-Def: The Chicago Public Library Films." Amy presented on the history of the Chicago Film Archives (CFA), a non-profit founded in 2004 with the mission of identifying, collecting, preserving and providing access to films that represent the Midwest. CFA's founding collection was the Chicago Public Library (CPL) film collection, which was centrally housed in the city's main public library branch prior to its moving to CFA. Since CFA's inception, the archive has regularly digitized films for online access and public screenings in venues without film projection capabilities. At the turn of 2016 CFA made a more concerted effort to increase the prioritization of improving and expanding access to its film collections, as well as to prioritize the digital preservation of fragile and unique films from its collections. They took a first step toward achieving these efforts by obtaining the Kinetta Archival Film Scanner. With the introduction of the in-house scanning capabilities, CFA can now safely scan and restore the archive's rare and fragile CPL films, offer more diverse exhibition options for film loans, and offer a wider selection of films to access. Because of these capabilities CFA was prompted to reacquaint themselves with some well-loved films from the CPL collection in preparation for digitally preserving them, in addition to digitally delivering films to patrons at resolutions and in conditions that they hadn't been seen in in decades.

Stefan Elnabli (University of California, San Diego) discussed "Extending the Purview of Digital Conversion to Facilitate Humanist Inquiry." In service of knowledge production, digital conversion is integral to the preservation, access, and future of digital collections. Elnabli framed digital conversion in the context of both the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) reference model and the data-information-knowledge-wisdom pyramid to identify what role digital conversion plays in digital stewardship and the production of knowledge. He argued that decisions made in the digital conversion phase of these endeavors have great influence in outcomes of preservation, access, and academic research. Elnabli also addressed trends in the digital humanities and how data produced through the digital conversion phase is essential to this disciplinary practice. Of note was the idea that digital humanities research and digital conversion influence each other’s goals, aims, abilities, and outcomes.

A brief business meeting followed the program. The group reaffirmed their recently updated charge: "A venue for ALA members to discuss the digitization, preservation, and access of print, audio, photographic, and moving image materials, as well as the migration, preservation, and access of born digital collections, including web-based and software-based materials." Stefan Elnabli will serve as co-chair from 2017–2019, succeeding Erica Titkemeyer.

Presentation slides will be made available through the co-chairs upon request.

Submitted by William Schlaack

Digital Preservation Interest Group

The Digital Preservation Interest Group met during the 2017 ALA Annual Conference on Sunday, June 25 with approximately 80 people in attendance. The program centered on “Best Practices for Digital Preservation.”

Christine Wiseman and Josh Hogan of the Atlanta University Center described the institution’s experience collaboratively establishing digital preservation plans and policies. Brendan Quinn of Northwestern University discussed a project, funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services, exploring the challenges of integrating local repository services with distributed preservation networks. Jeremy Myntti (and Tawnya Keller in absentia) shared the work they have done at the University of Utah to develop an appraisal and selection guide for projects intended to be digitally preserved. Finally, Cinda May (Indiana State University Library) and Deanna Ulvestad (Greene County Public Library) presented the outcomes of a project to establish a MetaArchive Cooperative SuperNode model within Indiana.

To close the meeting, incoming co-chair Patrice-Andre Prud'homme shared the results of a member survey conducted in the fall of 2016. Highlights of the survey include the membership’s preference to explore the whole cycle of digital preservation activities rather than focusing on more technical aspects, a desire for webinars between official meetings, and a motivation to collaborate with other groups that focus on work related to digital preservation.

Submitted by Chad Garrett

Preservation Administrators Interest Group

The Preservation Administrators Interest Group (PAIG) met during the 2017 ALA Annual Conference on Saturday, June 24 with 43 people in attendance. The meeting began with reports from affiliate organizations and proceeded with six presentations that spanned the future of preservation, audiovisual preservation, digital preservation, preservation program development, and collaborative efforts in preservation.

Jesse Johnston (senior program officer) delivered an update from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). A new series on the NEH blog titled 50 states of preservation, or #new50states, tells the stories of how small to mid-sized memory institutions (one from each state) are helping to preserve our nation’s cultural heritage. The National Digital Newspaper Program has extended its date range from 1836–1922 to 1690–1963. NEH continues to review applications for all of its awards; the higher the number of incoming applications, the more NEH can justify budgetary needs.

Jake Nadal (Library of Congress) delivered a presentation entitled “Spem in Alium: Orchestrating Preservation,” which offered significant insights into the future direction of preservation and the relationship between preservation and access.

Chris Lacinak (AVPreserve) delivered a presentation entitled “AV Collections: How to Quantify the Cost of Inaction and Catalyze a Response,” the Cost of Inaction Calculator developed by AVPreserve. While the cost of audiovisual preservation may seem high, this tool helps to quantify the high cost of not taking steps to preserve audiovisual cultural heritage.

Carolyn Caizzi (Northwestern University) delivered a presentation entitled “The State of Digital Preservation at Northwestern University Libraries, discussing challenges and solutions to setting up their digital preservation program.

Stephanie Lamson (University of Washington) delivered a presentation entitled “With Room to Grow” about a recently awarded Mellon grant that has allowed their special collections conservation program to develop new space and new goals.

Ian Bogus (University of Pennsylvania Libraries) delivered a presentation sharing his experiences as the first Curator of Preservation and the process of growing a program.

Ashley Jones (Miami University of Ohio), Holly Prochaska (University of Cincinnati), and Miriam Nelson (Ohio University) presented on “The Past, Present and Future of the Ohio Preservation Council,” reflecting upon benefits and challenges to keeping the a state-wide preservation community engaged and vibrant. The Council is a nonprofit, volunteer run, professional organization whose membership believes that cooperative, state-wide efforts are needed to meet preservation challenges. Over the last several years the leadership has redoubled its outreach efforts offering workshops, grants, and other collaborative opportunities to advocate for the preservation of the cultural heritage stewarded by institutions in Ohio.

Submitted by Martha Horan

Preservation Metadata Interest Group

The Preservation Metadata Interest Group met during the 2017 ALA Annual Conference on Saturday, June 24 with 18 people in attendance. During a brief business meeting, the current co-chairs announced that Marielle Veve (University of North Florida) will serve as incoming co-chair from 2017–2019, succeeding Jennifer Mullins. A program followed including two presentations.

The first presentation, “Overview of the PEGI Project and Preservation Metadata,” by Dr. Martin Halbert (University of North Texas), Robbie Sittel (University of North Texas), and David Walls (U.S. Government Publishing Office) outlined the need to mitigate the loss of electronic government information. The Preservation of Electronic Government Information (PEGI) program is an attempt to address this need by engaging libraries, federal agencies, and nonprofits to raise awareness around electronic records. Currently the project is in phase one, which involves meeting with agencies to learn how they create, disseminate, and preserve information.

The second presentation, “Making the Link: Preservation Metadata for Analog and Digital Materials” by Brenna Campbell (Princeton University Library) and Bethany Davis (University of Iowa) brought the perspectives of a conservator working with physical objects and a coordinator working in digitization to the question of metadata collection and management. They showed the similarities and challenges in managing data for physical and digital objects and raised the question: How do we link metadata for these objects?

A question and answer portion followed each presentation.

Slides from this meeting of the Preservation Metadata Interest Group are available on ALA Connect.

Submitted by Jennifer Mullins

Promoting Preservation Interest Group

The Promoting Preservation Interest Group met during the 2017 ALA Annual Conference on Sunday, June 25 to share and discuss ongoing efforts to promote preservation activities in communities.

First was a presentation on the State Library of Ohio and the Ohio Preservation Council's work to implement a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant dedicated to conservation treatment and preventative preservation. Ashley Jones (Miami University), Miriam Nelson (Ohio University), and Holly Prochaska (University of Cincinnati) discussed how the grant was conceived, the development of an associated day of training, and the potential impact of the grant now in its second year of funding.

Next Amy Belotti (Chicago Film Archives) and Sally Conkright (Experimental Sound Studio) talked about their work promoting audiovisual preservation in non-traditional ways and outside of the community of librarians and archivists. Each discussed services offered through their organization, as well as successful events that have highlighted—directly or indirectly—preservation actions.

Finally, the group had an engaged and lively discussion of successful promotion activities, barriers people have faced, and ways to overcome challenges.

Submitted by Jennifer Mullins