Brittle Books Microfilming Project Gets Underway
The Niels Bohr Library's project to preserve brittle books through microfilming (see this Newsletter, Fall 2001) is now in full swing. In July, we shipped our first test batch of books to the microfilm vendor, Preservation Resources, located in Pennsylvania. The project, supported by the Friends of the Center for History of Physics and a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, is the culmination of a nine-year effort to insure the long-term preservation of the Library's most precious and irreplaceable books. The effort began with the move to a state-of-the-art, climate-controlled facility in 1993, and the development of an in-house book repair program two years later. In preparation for the project we checked every book in the collection and identified 2,875 volumes whose paper is too brittle, because of age and other factors, to repair or preserve by means other than filming.
We are conducting the Brittle Books Project in compliance with national bibliographic conservation standards. This means the final product will be a permanent copy of some of our most important books, available not only to visitors to the Niels Bohr Library but also to other libraries. It means a great deal of painstaking work for the Library staff in selecting and inspecting the books before filming, and inspecting the film frame-by-frame afterwards. We have nearly completed the first stepchecking all of our brittle books in the national online catalog of the Research Libraries Information Network (RLIN)to identify those that have been microfilmed by other libraries. Less than one in ten had been filmed according to modern preservation standards. After eliminating these, we select the most valuable titles for microfilming, since the funds in hand will only suffice to film about two-thirds of our brittle books.
When the project is completed at the end of 2003 we expect to have microfilmed
about 1,700 books, representing all of our most historically valuable
brittle volumes that are not already on microfilm elsewhere. After the
books are filmed, they will be returned to the Library and maintained
in their original format, as well as on microfilm.