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Subject: Mass deacidification initiative in the UK

Mass deacidification initiative in the UK

From: Jonathan Rhys-Lewis <jonathan>
Date: Tuesday, March 12, 2002
Resource, the Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries has agreed
to fund a third phase of the ongoing programme to establish a
facility for mass deacidification to serve the UK, now known as
INFOSAVE. The National Preservation Office will be the managing
consultant for this project and an Advisory Group has been formed
including representation from:

    National Library of Scotland
    National Library of Wales
    British Library
    Public Record Office

This important funding initiative (for completion at the end of
March 2002) follows on directly from the second phase, completed in
December 2001 and funded by the British Library's Co-operation and
Partnership Programme.

During this second phase of the project, the net was widened to
include post 1840 paper-based collections in museums. Key outcomes
for the second phase were:

    *   the formation of a South East pilot consortium to survey
        their collections using the National Preservation Office
        (NPO) Preservation Assessment Survey (PAS), adapted by the
        NPO to determine the level of acid deterioration in their
        collections, and

    *   the compilation of an outline specification for mass

The Pilot Group representing institutions in the South East and
London agreed that the surveying of the identified material should
use the NPO Preservation Survey Assessment model and collect all the
other data that this methodology requires. This information will aid
the compilation of a national preservation strategy by developing a
picture of preservation need.

The survey uses a sample of approximately 400 items selected from
the institution as a whole or from a defined collection or
population. The information from the Pilot Group's findings has been
passed to the NPO who were able to add this to the existing survey
database and include the new definitions, based on a new set of
criteria for acidic papers.

The Pilot Group has demonstrated mechanisms for identifying material
suitable for the processes available. In addition, the Pilot Group
has identified the logistical requirements for a collaborative

With Phase 1 and Phase 2 successfully completed the Steering Group
agreed that it was now necessary to prove the technical and
commercial environment and develop the consortial funding apparatus
(Phase 3) necessary to apply for funding to establish a mass
deacidification system for archives, libraries and museums in the
British Isles (Phase 4).

The current project will:

    *   Develop a full technical specification for the
        deacidification of brittle paper in post 1850 books and

    *   Identify a pilot batch of materials suitable for mass

    *   Negotiate with the commercial suppliers to carry out the
        test trial.

    *   Review the outcomes of the test and refine the technical

    *   Prepare an outline funding proposal for a collaborative bid
        for a mass deacidification system.

A major objective of the project is to process and test sample
batches of material in order to further refine the technical
specification. The project will approach commercial suppliers of
mass deacidification services--in particular those referred to in
"The Enemy Within"--to ask for their support in this project.

Each supplier will be asked to process a batch of substantially
similar but not identical material, representing the types of
artefact and papers that will expect to be submitted for mass
deacidification. The demonstrator will be accompanied by a
specification and the project includes consultancy for bringing
together the batches, and a paper chemist to facilitate the pre and
post-treatment testing.

For further information on the project, please contact:

    Alison Walker
    Head of Programmes
    National preservation Office
    The British Library
    96 Euston Road
    London NW1 2DB
    +44 20 7412 7612
    Fax: +44 20 7412 7796
    Email: npo [at] bl__uk

The Report, which was publicly launched at the British Library on
March 6th 2001 is available at

                  Conservation DistList Instance 15:62
                  Distributed: Tuesday, March 12, 2002
                       Message Id: cdl-15-62-001
Received on Tuesday, 12 March, 2002

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