|The serial Motion Picture, published in 1917-55, will be archivally photocopied in full color and placed in Library circulation. The originals will be put in acid-free boxes and stored in a climate-controlled area. Partial funding for this project was provided by the Friends of the University Library. Photos by Bill Wood, U-M Photo Services|
Along with all large research libraries, the Library faces a serious threat to the state of its collectionsthe acidic content in materials that causes the paper to become brittle, particularly in books that were published since 1800, as is true of the bulk of the collections. Today, many books published in this country are on acid-free paper, but 50 percent of the volumes purchased by the Library come from outside the United States. Depending on the origin of the book, it may be printed on acidic paper.
Its an incredibly serious problem, explains Carla Montori, head of the Preservation Division. One-half of what we own needs some sort of intervention now, and most of the rest will need some work in the next 50 years. The problems are multitudinous. In fact, she adds, every university library, historical society, public library and genealogical society has this problem because they all have older materials.
Montori notes that the preservation program has strong institutional support. The commitment to the Preservation Division and the support thats been given to this program over the last 20 years are what sets us apart from most institutions, she says. We have very few peersthe Library of Congress, New York Public Library, Harvard and Yale universitiesthat do what we do in terms of the breadth of the preservation program at Michigan.
The Preservation Division has developed a comprehensive program to address the situation. With 23 full-time staff members trained in a wide range of areas, ranging from bookbinding and paper conservation to microfilming, the ongoing program does brittle book replacement, conservation of rare and special materials, repair of general collections materials, bindery preparation, preservation microfilming, digital imaging, and mass deacidification.
|These brittle volumes have been prepared by Library staff to be archivally photocopied.|
Stephen Darwall, professor of philosophy and a strong supporter of Book Rescue 2000, says, The Michigan Library has wonderful selections. I cant imagine doing my research or teaching without them. Helping the Library and its staff preserve the troublingly high percentage of the collections that are at risk seemed the least I could do to repay all the help and support they have given to me.
Shannon Zachary, head of Conservation Services for the Preservation Division, reports that during 19992000, the Library accomplished a host of Herculean feats:
|This before-and-after shot depicts The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilus, Bishop of Cesarea, in Palestine (1856, Thomas N. Stanford), along with a commercial purchase of a 1998 reprint of the book, Eusebius Ecclesiastical History, Complete and Unabridged, on acid-free long-life paper. Photo by Bill Wood, U-M Photo Services|
Nearly one-half of the holdings are printed on acidic paper that is or soon will be brittle. In most cases, the only practical way to preserve the content of these books is to replace them with a reprint or copy them to more stable medium, such as microfilm, a photocopy on acid-free paper or a digital format. The Library also holds close to two million volumes that are not yet brittle but are printed on acidic paper. They are candidates for mass-deacidification, a process that neutralizes the acid in the paper and greatly extends shelf life.
The Library has been extremely successful in obtaining funding for project-based activities. Grants from the National Science Foundation and National Endowment for the Humanities and other sources have enabled the Library to preserve materials in its collections by digitizing monographs, microfilming serials and providing conservation treatment for thousands of items. It also participates in a range of consortial and cooperative preservation activities, including with the Committee on Institutional Cooperation.
If we dont take care of our resources now, notes Ann Thomas, manager of preservation business services, it may be too late to save them later.
For information on the Librarys preservation program and how to participate in Book Rescue 2000, call (734) 763-7368.