6.3 Cloudy with a Chance of Deterioration: Maintaining Historical Climate Data on Microfilm

Tuesday, 9 January 2018: 2:10 PM
Room 3 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Jamie Roberts, NOAA Central Library, Silver Spring, MD

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Central Library (NCL) in Silver

Spring, Maryland supports both the needs of contemporary science researchers as well as maintaining the history of the country’s oldest civilian scientific agency. The library holds an extensive collection of historical climatological data on microfilm. Unfortunately, a large portion of the collection is suffering from Acetate Base Film Deterioration, more commonly known as

“Vinegar Syndrome”. Vinegar Syndrome affects acetate base films and describes a chemical reaction that happens when cellulose film begins to deteriorate. Most microfilm produced from the 1920s to the 1970s are acetate based, and are doomed to emit a strong smell of vinegar before becoming buckled, brittle, and unusable. In an effort to salvage the climatological data and preserve what remains of the collection, the NOAA Central Library has undertaken a microfilm digitization and cataloging project. This paper will detail the assessment and inventory phases of the project, as well as our ongoing digitization work, as part of the library’s efforts to preserve historical data. Some of the Microfilm Reels include:

Northern Hemisphere Surface Charts from 1944 - 1990

Constant Pressure Charts from 1932-1989

Northern Hemisphere Track Maps from 1899-1939

Climate Data from France, Netherlands, Sweden, Indo-China, and other locales from 1868 through the 1900’s

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