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Date: Tue, 28 Apr 92 13:48:08 EDT
From: Erich Kesse ER IKESS@NERUM>
Subject: Newsletter Article
To: Martha Hruska
"I love it when resolutions appear...." Then you're not going to like
Martha :: I understand from Cecilia, this month's Newsletter editor, that
the article below is causing a small stir. Specifically, the words "drag
queen" seem to be the problem. I have been asked if I might edit the
words and refused. I haven't been presented with a rational reason for
its offense. (I admit it may be provocative, but it is not offensive, and
its use is entirely descriptive of an actual event. I can even present
the very drag queen, a graduate of UF. ) Concretization of a concern (i.e.,
color microfilm, in this case) by comparison with a colorful and sometimes
tenuous model characterizes my Newsletter articles. I'm not going to guess
at the offense one finds in "drag-queen". I have submitted to editing
in the past when descriptions alluded to sex acts; drag-queens have very
little to do with sex acts and more to do with sociological behavior.
Editing as a result of dislike for description of sociological behavior is
censorship. Cecilia has agreed with me that these words should not be
The intent of my writing to you is to express my wish to withdrawal the
article entirely if an administrative decision is made to edit or otherwise
exorcize these words.
COLOR ME BEAUTIFUL! Microfilm.
A while back, Atlanta Public Access TV broad-cast a "COLOR-ME-
BEAUTIFUL-BARBIE MAKE-OVER," during which a drag-queen gave a Color-
Me-Beautiful Barbie (TM) a mohawk.
Like Color-Me-Beautiful Barbie, color microfilm is beautiful and
inviting. Several micropublishers now offer color microfilm for
sale. Maps, manuscripts and popular publications are available in
color microfilm. The advantage of color films, over monochrome
films, is tremendous, particularly when the film includes maps, art
work and other images for which color is an important interpretive
tool. The technical viability of color microfilm, however, is
limited; and, its physical disadvantages are as tremendous as its
The public service advantages and disadvantages of color
microfilm are as certain as the reader/printers on which color
microfilm is used. Microfilm readers bring color maps, art-work and
other images to life; but, microfilm printers render life in stark
shades of lifeless black and white (1). The difference is as
contrasting as a Color-Me-Beautiful Barbie with a perfect make-over
and a mohawk. Advantages, nonetheless, over-ride disadvantages.
As commercially available color microfilms proliferate, what do
selectors need to consider? Besides research use, a principle factor
in any selection decision should be the ability to maintain or
replace selected items. If a patron-use microfilm deteriorates, it
should be replaceable. A master microfilm in storage, somewhere,
should be available to produce a new patron-use copy. Or, like a
drag queen's Color-Me-Beautiful Barbie, your color microfilm should
be disposable after a period of use.
A criterion for microfilm selection is the manufacturer's
adherence to standards promulgated by a national or international
standards organization. A recent advertisement for a
micropublisher's color microfilm of heraldic manuscripts reads:
"COLOUR. Our special knowledge and experience in the production of
colour microforms is widely acknowledged, and we have advised the
British Standards Institution (BSI) and the International Standards
Organization (ISO)." The advertisement implies the existence of
standards for color microfilm, using an exercise in logic in which
the first two propositions are true: "Peter has a dog; and the dog's
name is Peter. (Therefore, Peter IS a dog.)" Standards do not exist
for color microfilm. This, however, does not mean that color
microfilms should not be purchased for the collection.
Color films use dyes which fade or shift when exposed to light.
Photochemical change of this kind will cause deterioration or color
loss over time. Whereas you might tan (and I, burn) under light,
color films are essentially bleached. Several types of film now used
in color microfilming, e.g., Kodak's Cibachrome, are relatively
stable and long-lived. But, even relatively stable color films face
a fate worse than a monochrome mohawk!
Detrimental climates, i.e., high relative humidity (RH) and
fluctuating high temperatures, are also catalysts for fading and
color image loss. Color films stored in detrimental climates can
fade even in complete darkness. An optimal storage climate for color
films is 30% to 40% RH and unfluctuating low temperatures (i.e., 00F
and below). The life expectancy (LE) of color films under optimal
production and storage conditions can be as long as the LE of
monochrome films under similar conditions, i.e., an estimated 500
years. Such climate conditions, however, would be unbearable for
users. Color microfilms purchased for use-collections are destined
to a life of 50 to 100 years.
Here are some questions:
01. How long must information on the color microfilm be useful to
If only 50 years or less, purchase of a color film is a safe bet.
If more than 50 years, consider the following questions.
02. Does the micropublisher maintain a master color microfilm under
optimal storage conditions?
Don't bet on it! Such conditions are expensive to create and
maintain. In a recent survey of publishers of color microfilm
(2), only 40% reported maintaining optimal storage conditions.
Chances are, future (in 50+ years) replacement will not be
03. How likely is it that information on color microfilm will be
republished eventually as a machine readable datafile or in an
electronically read format?
An increasing array of items are being republished in electronic
or optical media, particular ly maps and his tor ic document t s.
But, the safest answer to this question for most items is, "not
04. How likely is it that the Preservation Office may be able to
reproduce color microfilms in an electronic format?
Libraries have always preserved the obscure on the assumption
that other items will be republished (and probably preserved) by
commercial enterprises. But, libraries have been notoriously
behind the times or buried in a long queue of work. Further
color images require more set-up time and "disk space" than
monochrome images. The likelihood appears to be slim.
(1) Color printers cost far more than black and white printers.
(2) Kesse, Erich. Survey of Micropublishers : Report.
(Washington, D.C. : Commission on Preservation and Access,
ERICH J. KESSE.
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PRESERVATION OFFICE. UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA LIBRARIES.
FAX: 904.392.7251. TEL: 904.392.6962.