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Subject: Silverfish


From: Dag-Ernst Petersen <petersen>
Date: Saturday, May 18, 2002
Margaret Monroe <margaret_h_monroe [at] dot__ca__gov> writes

>My colleague has recently discovered that there are silverfish in
>our main records storage area.  Exactly what damage can these
>insects do to paper records and photographs?

I have been dealing with silverfish problems in our library for
years already, and over course of time I have gathered a rather good
collection of damage done by silverfish on books, documents and work
of art on paper (originals as well as photographs). In special cases
I can give information about the space of time within which the
damage has occurred. Librarians always try to convince me 'this is
100 years old damage', in order to avoid doing something. A research
project helped us to find a method, not harmful to books, of killing
the silverfish, but what is missing is a possibility of *monitoring*
the living population. This seems to be very complicated, and I got
no money to do 'further research'.

To the damage itself: the insects 'eat' the materials (paper,
vellum) from the surface (abrasive), you know; they are specialised
on sugar, proteins and starch, which you find in library materials.
Even with sugar I keep an example: the artist mixed honey as
plasticizer into the colours he used, and the 'intelligent' (I am
sorry for this) insects discovered the sugar on the paper at the
artwork, framed with glass and hanging in an exhibition. I could
keep on telling stories about silverfish, rather amusing, but with a
very severe background.

Dag-Ernst Petersen
Head of Conservation Dept. Herzog August Bibliothek POB 1364 38299
Wolfenbuettel Germany
+49 5331 808 217
Fax: +49 5331 808 302

                  Conservation DistList Instance 15:78
                   Distributed: Monday, May 20, 2002
                       Message Id: cdl-15-78-004
Received on Saturday, 18 May, 2002

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