The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 5, Number 3
Aug 1981


Local Groups Start Newsletters

The Baltimore Area Conservation Group has issued an untitled newsletter, calling it only "First Issue" (Vol. 1, Spring 1981). A name will be chosen by August 31. Eight pages in length, it contains a report of the inaugural meeting, coming events, the constitution and bylaws, and a report of a workshop. Officers chosen at the inaugural meeting include John Dean, President, and Monty Phair, Secretary (2619 Canterbury Rd., Baltimore, ND 21234).

Objectives of the organization are: "The promotion and conservation of library, archive and graphic arts materials, in Baltimore and the surrounding area through the following three areas:

"(a) Education. Creating greater public awareness of preservation problems and capabilities. Increasing technical knowledge and expertise by the promotion of appropriate seminars and workshops. Encouragement to publish and exhibit.

"(b) Resource Sharing. The sharing of technical data and other information. Where and when appropriate: the provision of assistance and advice; sharing of apparatus; the joint purchase of supplies.

"(c) Organization. Providing a focus for the discussion of local conservation problems and solutions."

Membership dues are $5 and should be sent to Larry Smith, 611 Harwood Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21212.

The Arizona Paper and Photograph Conservation Group began putting out ConservatioNews in May. The first issue has 3 pages in double columns, justified, and fairly small print. From the front page:

"The catalyst for the current conservation movement in Arizona was the Western States Materials Conservation Project. After the visit by Howard Lowell and Karen Day and the Snowbird Colloquium, interest became apparent, to the Arizona Department of Library, Archives and Public Records sponsored a state-wide conservation conference on October 27, and the group was officially formed. Officers include: President, Michael McColgin; Vice President, David Hoober; and Treasurer, Blaise Gagliano.

"The expressed purpose of the APPCG is 'to promote the conservation of paper documents, photographic images and books in Arizona; to encourage the exchange of ideas, information and experiences among members and all interested persons; and to promote the professional growth of its members.' It is the aim of ConservatioNews, written primarily for the neophyte, to help meet these goals and to generate continuing interest in conservation."

All correspondence should be sent to:

Michael McColgin
Dept. of Library, Archives & Public Records
3rd Floor Capitol
1700 West Washington
Phoenix, AZ 85007

The Delaware Valley Bookworkers Association is a recently formed group whose purpose is to promote the hand book arts in the Delaware Valley, Pennsylvania. It does not issue a newsletter as such, but has put out a two-page announcement of the organization and its activities. This announcement says, "Membership is open to hand binders, printers, papermakers and others interested in or working in the hand book arts. Our goals are to help improve communication between the various bookmaking fields, to create professional and educational opportunities, to form a pool of information and resources, and to increase public awareness of the book arts." Their first major event was a five-day seminar with Fritz Eberhardt, on the use of type on bindings. For information contact:

Don or Pam Rash, Haverford College Library, Haverford, PA 19041 (tel. 215-649-9600, ext. 286 during the day or 215- 52 7-2475 evenings).

From the GBW Newsletter

The Summer 1981 issue of the Guild of Book Workers Newsletter carried the following notices:

The Huntington Library in San Marino, California, has just opened a new Conservation Wing which cost $750,000 to build and provides generous space for manuscript conservation, a bindery, related services such as photocopying and photography, as well as offices for the rare book curators.

The Pierpont Morgan Library has received a matching grant of $600,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to help endow the Library's Conservation Department.

The Brunel Technical College of Bristol, England, is introducing a mew full-time one-year course in Fine Bookbinding, Conservation and Archival Practices beginning in September 1981. For further information write E.W.G. Portnall, Head of Bookbinding/Print Finishing, School of Printing, Brunel Technical College, Ashley Down, Bristol BS7 9BU, England.

Dead Sea Scrolls Checked for Origins of Damage

The following short article from Chemical and Engineering News for February 2 was sent in by William Sarill:

The Dead Sea Scrolls, housed in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, have lately been examined for survivability. The work was done by specialists from the museum and from Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot.

During their 2000 years or so of existence the scrolls have grown dark and brittle around the edges. Since they are real parchment, they contain the protein collagen, which turns to gelatin when exposed to excess heat and moisture. Using X-ray diffraction, the scientists found, as expected, that the darkened areas were high in gelatin. Its distribution suggested that water seepage probably caused most of the damage.

The Israeli investigators also wanted to know when the damage occurred. After collagen is converted to gelatin, the amino acids in the latter change very slowly from the levo- to the dextrorotatory form. Gas chromatography of amino acids from the gelatinous areas of the scrolls showed proportions of the two forms indicating that most of the damage had occurred hundreds of years ago and not in the museum. This conclusion is being checked further by monitoring the carefully controlled conditions in the museum.

From the Library of Congress's Semiannual Report

The June 5 LC Information Bulletin carried the text of LC's report for the first half of fiscal 1981 (Oct.- March). Excerpts follow:

"The Collections Development Office and the Preservation Policy Committee formulated a set of Guidelines for Preservation in Original Format and Restoration Priorities and completed the plan for a point system to apportion equitably the resources of the Restoration Office. .

"Construction of the film processing laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio is about 50 percent complete. It is now hoped that the facility will be operational by August. .

"In January, Specifications for Microfilming Manuscripts, the latest in the series of specification developed and written by the Photoduplication Service, became available. Copies of this document can be purchased for $2 from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402. .

"The Preservation Microfilming Office and the Binding Office have moved to the Madison Building without any substantial delays in production time. The Restoration Office, the Research and Testing Office, and the main administrative offices will move in June. [The move actually took place during the third week in July--Ed.]

"Further testing of the diethyl zinc process using 5,000 books has been delayed by technical problems. Continued work by Stauffer Chemical Co., however, has indicated a possible solution to the supply of diethyl zinc in a 50-50 mixture with mineral oil. Hazard tests on this mixture are under way and a laboratory sample is scheduled for testing in May. Work on a process to remove oxidation catalysts such as iron and copper which are common contaminants in paper has been successful. This work shows promise in increasing the life of paper and has resulted in the publication of a paper by Lucia Tang and Margaret Ann Troyer.

"The National Preservation Program Office completed the publication of the National Preservation Program: Proceedings of the Planning Conference and copies were mailed out to the participants of this conference. In addition, mew publications on boxing techniques and matting and hinging techniques will be published as part of a National Preservation Program series. Peter Sparks, formerly of the University of Delaware, became chief of the Preservation Office in February. .

"The Book Paging System was put into service in two Congressional Research Services divisions, and the book conveyor began to show greater reliability. The Collections Improvement Section continued its weeding project in Class H and removed more than 21,000 volumes from the shelves and forwarded them for disposition. The section also completed 16 percent of the inventory in Class B.

"The Special Search Section undertook the searching and assembling of materials needed to reconstruct the original Library of Congress collection within the Rare Book and Special Collections Division. .

"Paul Needham, curator of printed books and bindings at the Pierpont Morgan Library, discovered am unknown Caxton indulgence in fragments used in the binding of one of the finest books in the Rosenwald Collection, a volume containing four complete works by Caxton in a binding by John Reynes. This superb volume was a favorite of Lessing J. Rosenwald, the Library's great donor, who would have been keenly interested in the discovery, which clearly demonstrates the untapped scholarly potential of the collection. The Center for the Book plans to publish a monograph by Mr. Needham describing the discovery and reprinting the indulgence text."

Conservation at Oxford

Terry Belanger, who was in England this past March, reported his trip in the Bibliography Newsletter for March-May. The following excerpt describes a new conservation program at Oxford University.

"At Oxford, I talked with Michael Turner and Christopher Clarkson about preservation in Oxford libraries. Their problems in setting up preservation programs have been considerable: acid-free board is difficult to obtain in England, for instance; and they have had to design their own containers and go out and attract parallel orders from other libraries in order to get any sort of economies of scale from their manufacturers.

"They are beginning to produce a series of Conservation Leaflets: no. 1 deals with archival storage boxes, the specifications they insisted on their manufacturer's meeting in their construction, and the sizes available to the departments they serve in the Bodleian. Leaflet no. 2 does the same thing for archival storage envelopes (and both simple and clever they are).

"Extra copies of these leaflets are available to interested persons (write to Michael Tuner, Head, Preservation, Bodleian Library, Oxford, England)."

Conservation Program at Canberra College

Canberra College of Advanced Education instituted in 1978 a two-year program on the conservation of materials. The aim of the program, offered at the undergraduate and graduate levels, is to provide a sound base for conservation practices. The graduate course includes the study of the conservation of a wide range of materials such as paintings, prints and drawings, paper and books, artifacts of aboriginal origin, and objects created from metal, wood, ceramics and textiles. The graduate course requires a 6-month internship upon completion of the two-year academic program. The undergraduate course concentrates on paper and ethnographic conservation and technology. Both courses include the study of modern products such as plastics, films and nag tapes. Further information on the two programs may be obtained from the Executive Assistant, School of Applied Science, Canberra C.A,E,, Bruce, A.C.T., Australia. (From American Archivist, Spring 1980.)

Skaggs Foundation Grant

The Judah L. Magnes Museum, of Berkeley, California, has been awarded a grant by the L.J. and Mary C. Skaggs Foundation of Oakland, for textile conservation and book restoration.

The Skaggs Foundation was organized in 1967 by Mr. and Mrs. Skaggs of Pay Less Drug Stores, the large California-based retail drug chain. In its early years, Foundation grants were awarded almost exclusively for medical research, but the scope of giving was recently expanded to include funding for projects in social action, the visual arts, history and folklore.

According to project director Ruth Eis, the award will provide seed money for the initiation of a textile department in the Museum. . . . The grant will also provide funds which will enable the Museum to begin the vitally needed process of rebinding and deacidifying the Museum's important collection of rare books.

This information is from the first issue (Spring 1981) of a revived Museum newsletter, which is still nameless. Thanks to Sandra Kirshenbaum, who passed it on to this Newsletter.

ANSI Standards

The American National Standards Institute, Inc. (1430 Broadway, New York, NY 10018) has a committee that works on standards for the fields of library and information science and publishing. This committee, known only as Z39, has subcommittees, two of which are worth mentioning this month.

Subcommittee Q, Periodicals: Format and Arrangement. Chairman is Seldon W. Terrant, Books & Journals Division, R & D, American Chemical Society, 1155 16th St., N.W., Washington, DC 20036 (202-872-4537). The first meeting of the subcommittee was held in Washington on March 9, 1981. It is expected that the subcommittee will have completed a revision of the 1977 standard by the end of 1981. Its work may have implications for bindery collation

Subcommittee R, Environmental Conditions for Storage of Paper Based Library Holdings, has recently been formed under the chairmanship of Paul N. Banks, Director of Conservation and Preservation Administrator Programs, School of Library Service, 516 Butler Library, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027 (212-280-2293).

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