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Subject: Mass Deacidification for the UK and Ireland

Mass Deacidification for the UK and Ireland

From: Jonathan Rhys-Lewis <jonathan>
Date: Friday, April 27, 2001
A Presentation of the Findings and Recommendations of a Feasibility
Study on a Collaborative Approach to Mass Deacidification as part of
the National Preservation Strategy for the Cultural Written Heritage

The management Steering Group:

    *   Dr. Helen Forde, Head of Preservation at the Public Record
    *   Mr. Mark Mainwaring, Project Manager and Director of
        Administration and Technical Services at the National
        Library of Wales
    *   Mr. Rab Jackson, Head of Preservation at the National
        Library of Scotland
    *   Mr. John McIntyre, formerly Head of Preservation at the
        National Library of Scotland and acting as External Verifier

Launch of the Report at the British Library: Tuesday March 6TH 2001

The findings of this recently published report, on the feasibility
of establishing a mass deacidification facility to serve the UK and
Ireland, were presented at the British Library Conference Centre to
an audience of 60 invited guests. This meeting celebrated the
completion of the Report, which investigates the current position of
UK and Irish written heritage collections affected by acid

The participants came from a range of institutions and organisations
representing the management of written heritage collections in
archives, libraries and museums.

The proceedings were opened by Dr. Helen Forde, Head of Preservation
at the Public Record Office, chairing the meeting, who stressed the
importance of the Report and the need for action now to start the
treatment of written heritage materials affected by acid

The first speaker, Yola de Lusenet, who is the Executive Secretary
of the European Commission on Preservation and access (ECPA),
presented a fascinating view of current developments in the mass
deacidification process and its use in Europe and America. Ms. De
Lusenet stressed the importance of the Report, and the involvement
of the UK and Ireland. She encouraged the audience to support this
initiative and confirmed the added support of the ECPA.

The second speaker was the Project Consultant, Jonathan Rhys-Lewis,
who presented a summary of the Report's findings and
recommendations. The presentation painted a vivid picture of the
potential extent of the problem if it is not addressed and the wide
range of vital heritage material that is in danger of being lost. He
was able to show both the average cost of the process per book and
to offer some comparisons between the costs of digital reformatting
and mass deacidification. However, overall the message of this
presentation was that mass deacidification is now a feasible
alternative to solving the serious problem of the acid deterioration
of paper.

The presentation concluded with the three key recommendations of the

    *   That urgent action is taken on a sufficient scale to
        safeguard the nation's written heritage from the destruction
        of acid deterioration.

    *   That, as a matter of urgency, detailed criteria, based on
        the findings of this Report, be drawn up for the
        introduction of a facility to serve the UK and Ireland, and
        that invitations to tender be extended to commercial

    *   That the Steering Group should move forward to establish a
        UK and Ireland steering group charged with establishing a
        timetable for implementing the Report's recommendations and
        accessing funding to construct a tender specification for a
        mass deacidification facility to serve the UK and Ireland.

The formal presentations were then followed by a discussion panel
that enabled members of the audience to ask questions of the project
management Steering Group and the consultant.

The discussion session was open and frank, and questions covered a
range of concerns, such as security, the risk to materials, the
choices between mass deacidification and microfilming, and the
potential for future funding. This session also identified
considerable interest from the Heritage Lottery Fund representatives
and also those in the museum sector.

Mark Mainwaring, the Project Manager, presented an amusing but
realistic summary of the day's discussions. He encouraged the
audience to support this initiative and was able to present news of
the next stage of the project.

The British Library's Co-operation and Partnership  Programme have
agreed to extend the funding to enable the following developments:

    *   to extend the membership of the Steering Group to include
        archive, library and museum representation

    *   to form a pilot group of South East England and London
        institutions to carry out surveys of their collections to
        determine the level of acid deterioration

    *   to draw up a draft specification for tendering purposes for
        a mass deacidification facility

The launch was by invitation, but anyone who wishes to contribute to
the project may contact the project consultant for further details.
The Report is also available via the British Library's Concord
web site at <URL:>

Please contact:

    Jonathan Rhys-Lewis
    Project Consultant
    +44 1206 515498 (phone/fax)
    jonathan [at] rhys-lewis__freeserve__co__uk

Jonathan Rhys-Lewis
Archive Preservation Consultant
161 Maldon Road
Essex CO3 3BL
+44 1206 515498

                  Conservation DistList Instance 14:57
                  Distributed: Friday, April 27, 2001
                       Message Id: cdl-14-57-001
Received on Friday, 27 April, 2001

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