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Subject: Popcorn


From: Susan B. White <sbwhite>
Date: Wednesday, January 8, 1992
Notices of the increasing use of popcorn for packing books and other
library materials leads me to share two notes of warning.  Neither is
frivolous, though either might seem to be.

One is that a few years ago conservation-minded folk in a research
library I frequented posted a subtle, elegant message about the evils of
bringing food into the library.  The signs on the front doors read

                 Food attracts vermin.
                 Vermin damage books.
                     Please help.

The signage was not successful.  A number of people wondered whether the
vermin weren't entirely capable of damaging the books without the help
of researchers who had no doubt better things to do with their time,
while others simply couldn't imagine anyone bringing *food* into a
library.  The crowning blow, however, came from a graduate student in
the music department who (generals were hovering near) set the words to
the Randall Thompson *Alleluia*. The moral to this experience was that
subtlety didn't'/doesn't work in certain cases, perhaps not least of all
because only conservators take the problem of food-and-books really

Secondly, on a distant journey through the professional literature of
libraries and librarians of some hundred years ago, I read article after
article bemoaning the use of newsprint for newspapers, and bad paper for
books in general. The librarian-conservators of the time were making
compelling cases for better paper, but alas they were mostly talking to
themselves.  And the publishers of the time had better --economic--
reasons for continuing to use horrid paper, and ignored their good
advice for the LONG century just ending.

What has all of this to do with the current popcorn situation?  Simply
that I suspect that it will be far harder than any of us on the
Conservation list can imagine to convince publishers and jobbers that
popcorn for packing is a really bad idea, and that the use of popcorn
will probably NOT go away be itself. I don't think THEY are going to see
the light by themselves, and it will be up to someone else--one of
us?--to come up with a better alternative.  Hope the efforts to find
such that we see notice of on this list will soon be fruitful.

Sue White
Princeton University Library
<SBWHITE@PUCC or sbwhite [at] pucc__princeton__edu>

                  Conservation DistList Instance 5:35
                Distributed: Saturday, January 11, 1992
                        Message Id: cdl-5-35-007
Received on Wednesday, 8 January, 1992

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