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Directory of U.S. Newspapers in American Libraries: A Guide for Researchers

Storage, Shipping, and Contracting Notes and Suggestions


The U.S. Newspaper Program was successfully completed in 2011. The following information is presented for archival and research purposes relating to the creation of the Directory of U.S. Newspapers in American Libraries and subsequent newspaper programs like the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP). For current NDNP information, view the Library of Congress' National Digital Newspaper Program website.

Film Storage Precautions

Consult ANSI/NAPM IT9.11, 1993 for specification regarding microfilm storage. The following excerpts are of particular relevance to the storage of film other than masters and print masters:

  • "Films of a different generic type shall not be wound in the same rolls or stored in the same enclosures." (p. 3)
  • "Films may have possible interactions with other films that are of a different generic type (e.g. diazo and silver-gelatin), as well as with magnetic tapes and optical disks. Films of different generic types shall not be interfiled or be in physical contact." (p. 4)
  • "Films that are not essentially free from release of acidic fumes, such as some vesicular films, shall be stored in separate storage rooms. Films showing any signs of chemical degradation shall be stored in a separate storage room having a separate circulating air system." (p. 4)

See also ANSI/AIIM TR13 - 1998, Preservation of Microforms in an Active Environment.

Packing and shipment of newspapers for microfilming

Collated, prepared, and targeted papers shall be packaged for shipment to the microfilming agency in such a way that the exact contents of each reel, complete with reel-specific targets, are clearly identifiable. Sturdy cardboard, roll "kraft" paper (with a dispenser) and good quality tape are recommended. "Shrink-wrap" is also useful.

  • Place the complete contents of each reel between pieces of sturdy cardboard cut slightly larger than the largest issues. Where issues vary in size, cardboard inserts can be placed between the outer edges of the cardboard pieces to prevent buckling. Original cover boards can be used instead of cardboard to secure issues removed from bindings, though they add weight to the shipment.
  • Apply packing tape over strips of "kraft" paper to hold the cardboard together without allowing contact between the newspapers and the tape. This works best if the "kraft" strips are cut in advance. Be sure brittle material is held together securely.
  • Wrap the contents of each reel in "kraft" paper, tape closed, and clearly label. Labels can be cut from pages printed at the same time reel contents targets are generated. Packages can be additionally secured with "shrink-wrap" to protect against possible water damage.
  • Place one or more wrapped reel package into a sturdy box that will accommodate the package(s) and a surrounding layer of "bubble wrap" and loosely crumpled paper. The package(s) should be buffered all the way around.
  • Tape each box securely, covering all openings to prevent possible water damage. Tape address/contents labels securely to the boxes.
  • Shipments via commercial vendors (e.g. UPS) should be sent insured with "tracking." Shipping insurance should be estimated based on the known uniqueness of the material as determined by an examination of local holdings data in the OCLC Union Listing Subsystem.

Contractual negotiations with microfilming agencies

Single vendor contracts are often developed using local formats (e.g. state contracts). Every effort should be made to guarantee that the work is done by a qualified microfilming agency. The agency should be required to submit a detailed written response to a Request For Proposal (RFP) or Request For Information (RFI), and should be asked to provide a sample reel of preservation quality newspaper film. If possible, the sample should consist of a master negative, print master, and positive silver service copy including average-sized newspaper pages and both technical and full-frame targets. A silver positive service copy of a reel of recently completed newspaper filming is also acceptable.

It should be mandatory that the agency provide the names of institutions for which it has performed newspaper preservation microfilming, along with a brief indication of the titles filmed, dates filmed, and number of reels.

Additional areas to be addressed in service agreements include:

  1. The filming agency’s stated understanding of the terms of the service agreement and commitment to meeting standards
  2. The filming agency’s stated understanding of the plan of work
  3. Pricing, including per frame price and per reel duplication costs, inspection and testing fees, special handling charges, and shipping costs (each as applicable)
  4. Notification required for cost increases
  5. Taxes (as applicable)
  6. Copyright restrictions (as applicable)
  7. Insurance coverage of the material being filmed
  8. Terms of compliance
  9. Grounds for rejection of work
  10. Retakes, refilming, and corrections that are the responsibility of the microfilming agency
  11. Procedures for handling errors and delays
  12. Invoices, with specific reference to itemization of costs
  13. Terms of default and termination of service.

See also the RLG Preservation Microfilming Handbook (1992) for additional guidance and sample contracts. Also feel free to contact other USNP projects for additional guidance and assistance.