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Subject: Wei To

Wei To

From: Hilary A. Kaplan <bm.gsk>
Date: Friday, December 18, 1992
When speaking of Wei T'o, the "other ways" I referred to were
preventive/non-intrusive preservation measures.  For example, storing an
item in an alkaline environment, e.g., between sheets of alkaline paper,
in an alkaline folder, or between polyester with an alkaline backing

Individuals approaching deacidification need to recognize that it is an
irreversible treatment.  The individual performing the application needs
to be aware of the potential problems that may unexpectedly arise with
sensitive media or sensitive papers.  (e.g. bleeding, color changes). Do
the users of these solutions know how effective these solutions
are--what level of pH is ultimately achieved; if the solution is sprayed
on one side is it assumed that it has penetrated the paper; will more
than the surface pH change?  What type of testing is done prior to
treatment?  Safety precautions such as appropriate respirator filter and
fume hood should be used.  Advertisements for Wei T'o solutions
repeatedly downplay potential health hazards from chemicals present.

Individuals using Wei T'o who are not conservators will generally be
unaware of the issues I mention, but believe they are doing something
something good for preservation because they are taking action.  When
you don't know what to do, or aren't sure what to do, generally what you
should do is nothing --not embark on an irreversible chemical treatment.

I confiscated bottles of Wei T'o when I was the library conservator at
Emory because the individuals using these solutions were unaware of the
potential problems--for the documents and for themselves. Deacidifying
selected items is not, in general,  the best use of an archivist's or
librarian's time.  Because it is a time-consuming action, and the
product itself is not cheap, this activity is not usually a
cost-effective preservation activity.  Greater benefits will be derived
from the proper storage and housing of MANY items-- not just a few
"treasures."  For more information on "holdings maintenance,"
procedures, see Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler, Preservation of Archival
Records: Holdings Maintenance at the National Archives. Technical
Information Paper 006, 1990.  (To obtain a copy, you may call,

Hilary A. Kaplan

                  Conservation DistList Instance 6:34
                  Distributed: Sunday, January 3, 1993
                        Message Id: cdl-6-34-008
Received on Friday, 18 December, 1992

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