Professional Development

In the 'SOLINET' Category...

Preserving Oral Histories

Monday, January 19, 2009 10:11 am

Preserving Oral Histories

Tim Mitchell and I attended a webinar presented by Solinet on January 15, 2009 entitled: Preserving Oral Histories. This workshop was a discussion about the primary issues of preserving oral histories.

The activity of processing oral histories was covered first.The most important issue when processing is to prevent audio from being erased (either audio cassettes or CD’s).The processor should conduct a condition assessment to check for damage and if possible, play and listen to the material.A strong odor detected at this point would indicate deterioration.The items should then be labeled, re-housed; and new reformatted preservation copies made.

There are several free tools available for surveying oral history collections:

FACET (Field Audio Collection evaluation Tool) is a survey tool which is an open-sourced database that allows for recordinginformation about materials.

Preservation Tool for Audio and Moving Image Collections- Columbia University Libraries has developed and tested a tool to inventory and assess the physical condition of audio and moving image materials.

Damage to audio materials

Magnetic tape damage is usually referred to as “Sticky shed syndrome” and is the deterioration of audio material.

Acetate tape deterioration is the formation of acetic acid on the tape which is called “Vinegar Syndrome” because of the smell it gives.This material should be isolated in cold storage.The Image Permanence Institute has A-D strips to test for acetate decay.

Labeling Oral Histories- Guidelines for future users should be created that uses a consistency of format.Water-based markers (sold in specialty shops) or pencils should be used for marking on the material itself.CD’s should be marked on the inner hub.

Preserving Originals

-use highest quality format available

-make a copy of the original and use that copy for reformatting-put the original away in storage

-only use the master for making usable copies

-keep original hardware and software if possible


-use best quality materials

-arrange by material type or by format

-store the master separately

Paper/Board-use material that conforms with NISO Z39 standards

Plastics-use inert plastics-avoid PVC (polyester is a good inert plastic)

Temperature-the best temperature for audio materials is 50 degrees, 30-50 Relative Humidity

Avoid electromagnetic fields or UV radiation


-shelve vertically, except 16mm/35m which should be stored horizontally

-keep in a dust free environment

Storage-Magnetic media

-for optical media (CD-R), avoid light


-use acid free paper

-for electronic transcriptions, store in multiple formats


-RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks)- a technology that employs the simultaneous use of two or more hard disk drives to achieve greater levels of performance and reliability.

-LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe)- based at Stanford University Libraries, is an international community initiative that provides libraries with digital preservation tools and support so that they can easily and inexpensively collect and preserve their own copies of authorized e-content.

-Dark Archives- a collection of materials preserved for future use but with no current access.This is associated with collections of online serial publications and databases that are held by an organization other than the publisher.

Preferred Digital Formats


.wav- considered the standard for audio archives

.bmv-broad cast wave- an open format with the inclusion of metadata

.mp3-a small file size, compressed file format that


.MJ2 (Motion Jpeg 2000)- used by the Library of Congress as the standard format

.MXF- open source format that allows metadata inclusion

.AVI-Audio Video Interleave used primarily for video on the web

Audio Digitization Standards-the recommended rate for voice recordings:

Human Voice-sample rate- 96 kHz; bit depth- 24 bit

This workshop was thorough and illustrated that preservation issues for audio oral histories are unique and the housing materials, methods, and survey tools for them are specific to this audio material.

Craig Fansler

Care of Scrapbooks – Solinet Workshop

Wednesday, July 16, 2008 2:13 pm
Care of Scrapbooks Workshopan example of an old scrapbook

On Wednesday, July 16, Vicki Johnson and I attended a Solinet workshop on the care of scrapbooks. The workshop was presented by Jessica Leming of Solinet Preservation Services. This workshop covered a seldom addressed topic-the deterioration of older scrapbook collections. These scrapbooks take a variety of shapes and forms- ledgers, re-purposed sales catalogs, and bound materials of all kinds. At one time, it was apparently popular to take any bound item and paste your mementos inside as if all the pages were blank.

Jessica covered the general areas of assessment (condition), prevention treatments, housing(what to put a scrapbook in to protect it) and policies.

One of the main issues with preservation of historic scrapbooks is the use of “ground wood pulp paper”-a paper made from unbuffered wood pulp that is very acidic. This kind of paper was used heavily form around 1850-1900 to meet growing demands. Now, this paper is becoming brittle and causing problems. Other issues seen in historic scrapbooks is fading of photographs, staining from glues, binding failure de-lamination, brittle/yellowed cellophane tape, and faded inks.

Solutions for scrapbook preservation include:

* Interleaving of acid-free cotton rag paper-the step insulates each page from the other and can prevent staining and bleed through.
* Enclosures- drop spine or archival boxes can house an entire scrapbook to prevent further deterioration and light damage.

* Treatment

1. stabilization can be attained by mending or storage
2. Reformatting- making a preservation facsimile or a preservation microfilm copy will protect the original item while allowing access to the content.
3. Digitization- another way to allow access to the information of an item while protecting the actual item from handling damage.
4. Disbinding/Preservation- the scrapbook can actually be restored if the money and preservation skills are present

This workshop helped me to be aware of a growing area of preservation needs and the appropriate methods of protecting historic scrapbooks.

SAMM 2008

Friday, May 9, 2008 1:55 pm

I attend the SOLINET Annual Membership Meeting each May mostly because I am a Board member and I am supposed to, but whenever I go I am pleasantly surprised at how strong the programming is and how glad I am I came. So while I’m at the airport waiting for my flight, I’ll share what I learned.

The opening keynote was by Michael Stephens, Assistant Professor at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Dominican University in Illinois, and just a little over-enthusiastic for me. His theme was The Transformed Library and he had some great slides from libraries around the country to demonstrate how involved (or remote) libraries can be with their respective communities. Interestingly, he quoted from the OCLC Perceptions study that BOOKS are the universal library brand. It is interesting to me because Rosann Bazirjian and I did a replication study at Wake and UNCG last spring and one of our findings was that books is NOT the library brand at Wake Forest. Can you guess what is is? I’ll keep you in suspense until Rosann and I finish writing up our paper and present it at a staff meeting sometime. All in all, Michael’s talk was a lot like Karen Schneider’s which was the closing talk. Lots of 2.0 from all angles, flickr all over the place, tagging everywhere you can stand it, and good advice to let go the role of gatekeeper and encourage the role of the heart.

The next session I went to was about Next Generation Library Management Systems, with speakers from Duke, Georgia PINES and Villanova. Susan, Erik and I are cooking up plans to implement Villanova’s VuFind as an OPAC replacement for WebVoyage. The open source movement for library management systems is very exciting and these three speakers embodied my own feelings that we cannot stomach the thought of paying more big money to corporate vendors for user-hostile systems built on antique architecture. I don’t know how far we will get, but we have to try. More on that later.

I did my librarianly duty and attended the session on the Future of Bibliographic Control with Olivia Madison, co-chair of the Library of Congress Working Group. I have not stayed as abreast of this report as say, Erik has, so I was glad to get a briefing. The working group did yeomen’s work and recommended 102 action steps that the rest of the bibliographic world should be grateful for. It has been a controversial report but I believe it turns the big boat of bibliographic control more in the right direction.

There was a two hour business meeting with a discussion of the proposed merger with PALINET that I won’t detail. The merger is very exciting and a lot of smart, dedicated people are working hard on it. It is a privilege to participate in the discussions and I have learned a lot about the business side of the information profession because of it. There is a bright future out there, with or without OCLC, and we can hardly think too big.

This morning, I went to a delightful presentation on the Civil Rights Digital Library at the University of Georgia. It is a phenomenal resource (you know what a sucker I am for all things related to civil rights) and they have done it right. There was some discussion at the recent ASERL meeting of making this a project to which all ASERL libraries could contribute. It seems many local news affiliates across the South are looking for a home for their historical film footage and there are civil rights treasures within them. Maybe we should talk to WXII?

As previously mentioned, Karen Schneider closed the conference with a lively talk on library blogging. We already do many, if not most, of the things she mentioned here at ZSR. Current typing to the contrary, I am not a blogger at heart but resolved to try to blog my upcoming bike trip so that the family can enjoy the trials and triumphs of Barry and Lynn’s Great Adventure. I saw how valuable that could be to the folks back home during our South Course trip last summer. The most interesting thing in Karen’s talk was her mention of twitter and one of the posts that appeared live on the screen was our own laurenpressley’s twitter comment, “tree down in neighborhood – photo.” Actually, Lauren could have given the exact same talk as Karen as she is known nationally as a blogging/twittering guru!

OK, my flight is getting close to boarding so I’ll stop now and look forward to seeing ZSR under construction. I loved Craig’s photo of the busts from the Current Periodicals Room being loaded onto book trucks!

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