The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 6, Number 3
Jul 1982


Camberwell to Offer Four-Year Course of Study

Michael Hutchins, a teacher at Camberwell School of Art and Crafts, reports in the June issue of the DB Newsletter that the courses at Camberwell are about to change: instead of the admittedly hurried one-year course with, for some, a second year to specialize in an interest, it will be possible for a student to spend up to four years (two of them supported on a mandatory grant) on bookbinding and library materials conservation.

Byzantine Binding Study

John L. Sharpe III of Duke University received a grant of $7,500 from the Council on Library Resources January 20, 1982, to collect information on Byzantine binding, to compare Byzantine bindings with other similar structures, and to work toward developing a history of Byzantine bindings.

Bookbinding Symposium at Ascona in October

Following a number of requests, a meeting of hand bookbinders will be held in Ascona from the 11th to the 16th of October, 1982. Special guest lecturers will be:

Dr. Sten G. Lindberg of the Royal Library in Stockholm, on the topic of Scandinavian bookbindings from the past to the present.

Mr. Jeff Clements, president of Designer Bookbinders from London, on recent developments in British fine bookbinding.

Mr. Hans Erni, artist and illustrator from Luzern, on illustration and binding decoration.

Mr. Hugo Peller on his binding technique in leather and parchment, including a special demonstration of placing a painting under a gilt edge.

Participants are encouraged to bring and demonstrate tools of their own design which have been successfully put to practical use. It is also desired that participants bring bindings which may be put on display and serve as the basis for discussion. Lectures and demonstrations will take place in the premises of the Centro del Bel Libro and in the lecture hall.

Participants: around 40. The fee is estimated to be S.Fr.270, exclusive of accommodation and board. Registration will be accepted by the Centro del Bel Libro, via Collegio, 6612 Ascona (tel. 093 35 72 34).

That's Ascona, Switzerland.

LC Drops Patent, Takes License for Deacidification

From 1975 or thereabouts until early this year, there were two competing patents for nonaqueous deacidification solutions using magnesium compounds, those of Richard D. Smith (Wei T'o Associates) and George Kelly, who assigned his patent to the Library of Congress. It is unusual for a government agency to accept a patent on a formula very similar to one already on the market, but there were reasons for this. At the time, it was apparently believed a) that the two patents did not seriously conflict, and b) that it would be good to give the formula a government patent so as to put it in the public domain and thereby encourage its use. LC's announcement of the 1976 patent said, in part,

Although several nonaqueous or solvent-based methods have also been developed in recent years [in addition to aqueous methods], each has been subject to some problems, ranging from the toxic nature of the materials involved to the tendency of some solutions to precipitate in the presence of moisture and leave a deposit on the paper.

Methylmagnesium carbonate [now called methoxy magnesium methyl carbonate (MMMC)] eliminates nearly all of the objections encountered with other solvent-based systems. It effectively deacidifies papers too delicate to be treated by aqueous solution. The solution imparts a level of alkaline reserve high enough to protect the paper against future acid attack, whether these acids are internally generated by decomposing lignins or other compounds or externally deposited from atmospheric pollution.

Solutions of methylmagnesium carbonate are much more stable than previously available solutions, most of which tend quickly to become inactive. The effectiveness, the longer storage life, the greater convenience, and the significantly lower cost of the new product provide a superior deacidification agent for the use of conservators.

By the terms of the recent out-of-court settlement, the Library of Congress is licensed to use Dr. Smith's patent to "make and use nonaqueous deacidification solutions for materials in the Library's custody and in facilities under its control and direction." Presumably this refers only to magnesium solutions, not calcium or other solutions.

According to the press release by which both parties announced the settlement,

With the exception of the Library of Congress, Wei T'o Associates, Inc., Box 40, Matteson, IL 60443, is the exclusive licensee under Dr. Smith's patent. The objective of Wei T'o is to encourage persons and institutions who have been manufacturing their own solutions to become customers.

It is the Library's understanding that Wei T'o has no desire to penalize any person or institution who has acted in good faith thinking that they were licensed under Mr. Kelly's patent. On the other hand, Wei T'o has informed the Library that it believes development costs should be evenly spread among all who benefit. For these reasons, Wei T'o will merely seek reasonable compensation from those persons and institutions who promptly undertake negotiations.

It is the plan of Wei T'o to improve the quality, variety, and scope of its products and to support research in preservation for the benefit of collectors and institutions like archives, libraries, and museums. Dr. Smith, who is President of Wei T'o, has indicated that this plan follows his conviction that inventions should produce income and this income should be used to produce further benefits for society.

Dr. Smith pioneered the development of nonaqueous deacidification solutions during the 1960s at the University of Chicago, and has been engaged ever since that time in manufacturing and making them available. It was his preferred deacidification agent, magnesium methoxide, that Mr. Kelly utilized, by adding carbon dioxide, to form MMMC, a chemical made up, by definition, of more than 50% magnesium methoxide.


The three final reports from the "guinea pig" libraries taking part in the two-year ARL/NEH Preservation Planning Program were announced in the April issue of this Newsletter. Then on May 1, the 117-page Manual and the 625-page Resource Notebook were received, and have already been put to successful use for reference and research purposes. The Notebook is a little library: the best of everything seems to have been photocopied (with permission, always) for it, resulting in a balanced and well-ordered compilation with enough depth to answer most question within its large scope--within the limits imposed by the frontiers of this field, of course. The Manual opens a way for libraries that want to establish a preservation program but don't know how.

The Program itself takes four to six months to complete. Using a structured planning procedure, manual, and resource notebook, task forces composed of library staff members prepare a detailed plan for their library's preservation program. Consultants trained by the Office of Management Studies of ARL assist the institution in applying the materials to its own situation. Additional information on schedules and costs for conducting the Program are available from Maxine K. Sitts or Duane E. Webster at the OMS, (202) 232-8656.

Pamela Darling, based at the Columbia University School of Library Service, carried out this study with and for the OMS of the Association of Research Libraries. The study was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Ms. Darling was recently named Special Consultant for the National Preservation Program at the Library of Congress.

The NEH got its money's worth for this project, and so will anybody who sends in $30 for these two publications, both sold below cost. The Manual is $10 and the Resource Notebook is $20. Prepayment is required for all orders, and checks should be made payable to "ARL Office of Management Studies." Ordering address is: Office of Management Studies, Association of Research Libraries, 1S27 New Hampshire Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20036.

Standards Committee for Permanent Paper

The American National Standards Committee has a mew subcommittee, "SC S--Permanent Paper for Library Materials." The chairperson is Gay Walker, Head of the Preservation Department at Yale University Library. The subcommittee has met three times and prepared a draft standard.

UV Stabilizer Coats Color Photos

The trouble with some "instantly" processed color photographs is that their images fade when exposed to sunlight and fluorescent lights. Now, however, University of Dayton researchers have found that a complex chemical called dinonylphenyl isophthalate inhibits fading in Eastman Kodak Company-type instant color prints.

While much effort has been directed toward finding chemicals to protect the dyes from UV light attack, the effectiveness of various proposed UV stabilizers varies considerably from dye to dye, says Arthur N. Usmani of the University of Dayton in Ohio. Usmani and research colleague I.O. Salyer therefore set out to develop an improved formulation.

Usmani reported to Science News, from which this information comes, that the compound is effective in an "overprint" varnish coating material, and furthermore, that it is compatible with the other film chemicals and also is somewhat of a plasticizer. It is believed to work by rearranging itself upon exposure to UV light into a known UV-absorbing compound called benzophenone.

The researchers found that while unprotected control prints faded almost completely in 70 hours of light aging, Kodak-type coated prints showed only minor fading after 170 hours. Similar results can be expected if this stabilizer is incorporated in an external or internal coating on photographic film prior to its exposure in a camera, Usmani reports; moreover, when incorporated into fibers or paint pigments, the coating also can be used to protect wall coverings, fabric and artwork from fading. (Condensed from the April 10 issue of Science News.)

NCAC Becomes NIC

According to a June 14 mews release from the National Conservation Advisory Council, "A milestone in the efforts to preserve the cultural patrimony of the United States occurred on April 23, 1982, when the NCAC unanimously voted to establish the National Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Property (NIC). After eight years and as many published studies on preservation needs in the country, NCAC completed its original charge by producing a comprehensive plan for a National Institute for Conservation. Despite the present economic climate, NCAC felt that it was most important to build on the momentum developed during the design phase of the plan, and make use of the established NCAC structure to start the new organization.

"A period of two or three years is envisioned as a transitional stage between the former advisory activities that were undertaken by NCAC and the full implementation of the services and programs recommended in the National Institute Proposal. Efforts to raise funding for the transitional stage, including the addition of staff to permit more direct service to conservation professionals, will begin immediately. Funding previously awarded to NCAC will be transferred to the National Institute for Conservation.

"Copies of the Proposal are available from the offices of the NIC, A & I 2225, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20560."

Functions envisioned for the NIC include:

Libraries and archives, in addition to museums, historic preservation programs and independent conservators and businesses, will be served by the NIC.

The Right Gloves

The packet of safety information that was made available at the AIC meeting contained a list of 54 chemicals, with a rating for each of the efficacy of five common glove materials. There is a similar list in Michael McCann's Artist Beware (Center for Occupational Hazards, 5 Beekman St., New York NY 10038). A little paper and pencil work show that the chance of hitting on a glove that offers excellent protection for any given solvent, if a random selection is made, is less than one in 10. Anyone who is working a lot with a particular solvent, or solvents, should check to make sure they are wearing the right gloves for the work, even if it means stocking two or more types of gloves in the lab or workshop.

Some excerpts from these two lists follow, showing the type of glove material that offers good or excellent protection.

Acetone (TLV now 250 ppm)-Natural rubber, neoprene, butyl

Aniline-Neoprene, butyl

Carbon tetrachloride (better not to use it at all)-Nitrile

Ethyl acetate-Neoprene, butyl

Hexane (heptane is a safer substitute)-Neoprene

Morpholine-Butyl, PVC

Phenol-Neoprene (best), butyl, PVC


Methyl chloroform (l,l,l-Trichloroethylene) -Nitrile

Turpentine-Natural rubber, latex/neoprene, NBR rubber or nitrile

Xylene-No glove material offers really good protection; best are NBR rubber and nitrile

The charts provide only a general comparative guide to characteristics of the materials. Actual glove resistance depends also on other factors, such as the concentration of the chemical, temperature, immersion time, and the thickness of the glove. Chemicals can permeate the gloves invisibly; it is recommended to test in actual working conditions for liquid or vapor inside the glove.

Lucy Commoner, who compiled the AIC list from information in glove catalogs, kindly supplied ratings for some additional chemicals, and wrote:

"I found that many times, different companies gave different ratings to the same glove materials. What I used was the average or worst rating when there was a discrepancy. This experience leads me to believe that the only accurate way of choosing gloves is by combining what a specific manufacturer says about their own glove with tests in actual working conditions using that same glove. The chart can only be used as a general guide."

Methanol, and alcohols in general-Natural rubber, neoprene, nitrile, butyl, PVC


Chlorinated hydrocarbons in general (like methyl chloroform)-Nitrile

Mineral spirits, and petroleum distillates in general-Neoprene

Naphtha-Neoprene, nitrile

Amyl acetate-Butyl (best), neoprene

Glove manufacturers are listed in Best's Safety Directory (A.M. Best Company, Ambest Road, Oldwick, NJ 08858, 201/439-2200). The 1982 edition is in two volumes and costs $40.

PLMS Gears Up

The Preservation of Library Materials Section of ALA heard reports and discussed a number of issues important in binding and conservation at the Midwinter meeting in January, and can be expected to take them up again in the July annual meeting in Philadelphia. This group, which has been meeting since the late '70's but which only recently achieved formal divisional status within the American Library Association, is the main channel through which librarians identify, and address themselves to, their common conservation problems.

The issues discussed in January were, in part:

  1. Development of a nondestructive photocopier. Library Technology Reports is said to be working on a face-up copier; a prism that rested on the plate of a copier was manufactured for a while by an English company.
  2. Permanent paper for library materials. Support statements were forwarded to the new ANSI subcommittee on this (see announcement elsewhere in this issue) and to the CLR Committee on Production Guidelines for Book Longevity (ANL, Sept. 1979; CLR Recent Developments, April 1981-for information write CLR, 1785 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036).
  3. Cost of conservation. (Data has been gathered by the Association of Research Libraries on library expenditures for conservation of collections.)
  4. Conservation of nonbook materials. A committee may be established to deal with this.
  5. Joint PLMS/LC training workshops. These are still in the planning stage.
  6. A two-day preconference on library binding in 1983.
  7. Standards for materials, finished products, and advertising
  8. Better conservation adhesives
  9. Cost of individual conservation techniques

For more information about PLMS, write Preservation of Library Materials Section, American Library Association, 50 East Huron St., Chicago, IL 60611. Some of its meetings are open to nonmembers.

Canadian Mass Deacidification Facility Described

Records Conservation, a facility shared by the Public Archives of Canada and the National Library of Canada, has an operational in-house mass deacidification system which is safe and effective. It is called the Wei T'o Nonaqueous Book Deacidification System. It was designed to treat 5,000 books in seven days, that is, about 250,000 books annually. The System is, however, still a pilot project and its current capacity is somewhat limited, given its potential. At present, about 500 books are being treated weekly at a cost of $3.00 to $4.00 per book.

The National Library of Canada is now sending for treatment both new and retrospective Canadian official publications, and results have exceeded highest expectations. The pH values are excellent and anticipated minor problems have not developed. In fact, the System has been found to enhance the strength of perfect bound books. When the capacity of the System has been enlarged, the National Library of Canada plans to send most legal deposit materials for treatment before they are added to the collection. Retrospective material from the general Canadiana Collection will also be added to the program. Mew books will be given priority, to ensure that their papers are neutralized before they have time to deteriorate.

From a state-of-the-art report to IFLA, on library preservation in Canada, by Joyce Banks, National Library of Canada, June 2, 1982.

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