The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 7, Number 1
Mar 1983


Thesis Binding Standards

The Preservation of Library Materials Section (PENS) of ALA is collecting existing specifications for publication of dissertations and theses, in preparation for the eventual issuance of guidelines that will cover paper, binding, leaf attachment, and so on. Both members and guests present at the meeting on January 8 in San Antonio wore asked to forward any specifications they could collect to Jan Merrill-Oldham, Box U-S University Library, Storrs, CT 06268.

How to Tell If Paper Is Buffered

Spot tests for pH often give misleading results with buffered paper because of the insolubility of the carbonate. A sample of Glatfelter's Spring Grove Laid Text, for instance, had a pH of 9.3 by the cold extraction method in 1981, but a pH of only 6.5-7.0 as the average of four different spot tests in 1982. This difference in readings means that spot tests are not as useful for identifying stable, permanent paper as they are in eliminating acidic paper.

There is a fairly simple test for identifying the presence of carbonate buffering, which helps to compensate for this "blind spot" of spot tests. It is given in a couple of the ASTM's paper standards for permanent records. The wording below is taken from ANSI /ASTM D 3208-76, "Standard Specification for Manifold Papers for Permanent Records."

Qualitative Determination of Carbonate Content of Paper--Place about 0.5 g of paper in a test tube of any convenient size. Cover to a depth of about 1 cm with 6 N hydrochloric acid (HCl). A gentle continuous effervescence (not to be confused with initial desorption of gases from the surface of the paper) indicates the presence of carbonate.

NEDCC Receives NEA Training Grant

The Northeast Document Conservation Center announces that it has been awarded a grant of $10,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts, to support an advanced internship in paper conservation. The grant will be used to continue training for Mimi Batchelder, who was awarded an NEA fellowship by NEDCC last year.

Early Fragments Restored

Dropsie College in Philadelphia received an NEH grant for up to $24,663 for housing and preservation of fragments on vellum, parchment and paper from the 9th to the 15th centuries, found in the Cairo Synagogue. The work is being done by the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) in Philadelphia and is due to be finished in May.

The fragments are all from worn-out holy books, originally stored (because no book containing the name of God could be thrown away) in a special room in the Synagogue called the geniza. They have been at Dropsie for a number of years.

A 1982 almanac shows that Dropsie College had only 12 faculty and 65 students (59 men and 6 women, all in graduate study) in that year.

ETO Safety Measures in Glenbow Museum, Alberta

The following note is from the December IIC-CG Newsletter:

Glenbow's fumigation chamber has undergone several changes. Procedures have been modified to ensure operator safety. An air line has been piped into the room containing the fumigation chamber in order to provide safe clean sir for the operators during the fumigation process. Air changes in the room have been increased to 10 changes per hour. Testing has been done with artifacts to establish how long it takes for the fumigant (ETO) to disperse. The fumigation area is currently being organized to facilitate a "dirty" or quarantine area for incoming artifacts, an "aeration" chamber and a "clean" holding area for fumigated material.

Paul Lukeman has been hired as Conservation Technician/Fumigation effective October 25, 1982.

Oriental Paper Conservation

ICCROM announced in its September Stop-Press that the six three-week workshops it held last winter met with such

success that they hope it will be possible to repeat them twice in the spring of 1984. The workshop was given by K. Masuda of the Tokyo Rational Research Institute of Cultural Properties.

NARS Update: Preservation, Independence, a Vacancy...

The National Archives and Records Service has two advisory committees. The one for preservation is headed by Norbert Baer and includes several conservators among its members: Peter Waters, Paul Banks, Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler, William K. Wilson, Robert Organ, Richard D. Smith and others. At a recent meeting the Preservation Advisory Committee was briefed on the investigation of the environmental conditions of NARS' storage areas by the Center for Building Technology of the National Bureau of Standards. The study, to be completed in June of 1983, will include the measurement of suspected pollutant levels, rate of air infiltration, and temperature and humidity in MARS stack areas as well as comparative data on records storage areas in the Library of Congress and the National Gallery of Art, which have far more sophisticated systems. A search will be made by NBS of the most advanced standards, types of equipment, and operating procedures used in modern records facilities. A literature survey, supported by MARS, will be conducted under the direction of a subcommittee of the American National Standards Committee Z39. Through this data, it is hoped that experts in the field of environmental conditioning systems will provide information on equipment for optimum conditions for archival records storage.

A limestone cave 210 feet underground in Boyers, Pennsylvania, is the new home of 1,000 cubic feet of MARS microfilm master negatives. The cave, formerly owned by U.S. Steel, also houses records of the U.S. Patent office, the Social Security Administration, and many private companies. The temperature in the storage area is maintained at 55 degrees and the humidity at 33 percent.

A special task force has been appointed by Robert M. Warner, Archivist of the United States, to undertake a comparative study of the organization and operation of the Smithsonian Institution and the National Archives and Records Service. The eight-person study team includes officials from MARS' parent agency, the General Services Administration, as well as members of MARS' staff. The study was launched at the request of GSA Administrator Gerald P. Carmen, who stated at the fall meeting of the National Archives Advisory Council that "an objective and comparative study would be useful for further discussions of MARS' organization and operations." Carmen further stated that although he does not now support separation for MARS, the study would lead to further dialogue and possible adjustments of his current position. The Society of American Archivists and other professional organizations in the field of libraries and history are on record in favor of separation of the National Archives from GSA.

The February 5 New York Times reported that a political appointment of a new Archivist of the United States to replace Robert Warner was reportedly being considered. (Warner is a professional historian and archivist.) The potential appointee named is Richard F. Staar. MARS has never been headed by a political appointee. The American Historical Association is lobbying Congress to head off the appointment.

Conservator Tim Vitale's job has been announced vacant and applications are being sought nationwide (see "Positions Open").

The Continuing Resolution funding for December-March is at the same level as October-December was, $86M for the year, including $3M for NHPRC.

Sound Recordings Committee Incorporates

The Committee for the Preservation of Sound Recordings, described in a letter in last year's February issue, has incorporated as a non-profit corporation under the name of the Foundation for Recordings, Inc. This news was from Susan Swartzburg, who is on the board.

Training for Menders of Library Books

The people at the Book Preservation Center at the New York Botanical Garden say that despite all the information available to library personnel about conservation/preservation methods, it is still difficult to obtain hands-on instruction for the maintenance and care of library collections. The Book Preservation Center, established with grants from The H. W. Wilson Foundation and NEH, addresses this urgent need through hands-on workshops.

As in the past, introductory workshops are for participants with little or no background in conservation/ preservation. During the workshops, each participant becomes familiar with materials, tools, and develops efficient work habits. Basic techniques learned include measuring, scoring, folding, cutting and sewing. Preservation enclosures will be constructed. Simple paper repair, reinforcing corners and rebacking cloth bindings will be demonstrated and then done by participants.

There are introductory workshops in March and April, and advanced workshops in March, April and Nay. Two specialized workshops--decorating paper and box making--will be held in April.

Information about overnight accommodations in the area is available on request. Contact the Book Preservation Center, New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, BY 10458 or call 212/220-8754.

PPFA Guild

The Professional Picture Framers Association puts out The Framer, from which the following announcement was taken:

The Guild (through the PPFA Standards and Guild Committees) will be producing a book of terminology for picture framers to standardize the usage of art and framing terms. They also plan eventually to publish a set of standards of craftsmanship and to develop a course of instruction for a certification program for framers.

Some of the first courses for that certification program will be premiering at the Spring International Convention and Trade Show in April.

[The Guild referred to is the PPFA Guild, which is like a "professional affinity group."]

Date for ALA/LC Seminar Changed

A new leaflet has been published showing a date of April 29 (not 22) for the ALA (RTSD)/Library of Congress seminar on preservation for library directors and top management. The change was made because of a scheduling conflict. The seminar is entitled "Library Preservation:

The Administrative Challenge." For information write

Library Preservation Program
50 East Huron Street
Chicago, IL 60611

Miscellaneous News From the Library of Congress

The Semiannual Report of the Library of Congress that covers the period April through September 1982 includes a few items of preservation news that slipped through the Abbey Newsletter's dragnet at the time. They are reported here under the name of the reporting division or office.

Collections Development Office. Several new programs were inaugurated to improve the preservation of the general book collection. Of particular note is the special rebinding project. Books which have been removed from the collections for rebinding are now regularly scrutinized by rare book and art specialists to identify unusual items which should be rebound with special care. Included are books with artistically significant covers, volumes with interesting or important autographs and bookplates, and books and pamphlets of sufficient bibliographic significance to warrant the retention of the signature blocks in original form.

Central Services Division. ...Underground storage space was leased from National Underground Storage, Inc., of Buyers, Pa., for the storage of microfilm in climatic control [i.e. controlled climatic] conditions. The facility will house the records currently stored at the Denver Federal Archives and Records Center and the archival microfilm of the Photoduplication Service.

Cataloging in Publication Division [the folks who see to it that catalog card information gets published on the backs of title pages]. The division agreed to include information about CIP titles printed on acid-free paper when the information is supplied by the publisher.

Climate Control Becomes More Popular

Nine of 13 major independent research libraries receiving matching grants from the National Endowment f or the Humanities late in 1982 had plans to spend all or part of the funds for conservation. At least four of this group of nine were installing climate control systems, having applied independently for grants that included this feature. The libraries and their new grants are:

American Antiquarian Society - $400,000 to be used for an endowment for acquisitions; conservation of collections; and to augment curatorial and education staff salaries.

American Philosophical Society - $175,000 to be used to install a climate control system.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania - $200,000 to be used for conservation of collections; to endow conservation staff; for renovation; and to purchase microfilm readers.

Huntington Library - $500,000 to be used to install climate control systems.

Library Company of Philadelphia - $100,000 to be used for renovation of its conservation laboratory.

Newberry Library - $750,000 to be used to complete building renovation, endow the conservation program, endow the Indian Center, and for acquisitions.

New York Academy of Medicine - $100,000 to be used to endow a conservator's position.

Pierpont Morgan Library - $300,000 to be used for an endowment for acquisitions, and for renovation of its climate control system.

Virginia Historical Society - $100,000 to be used for renovations and the installation of a climate control system for the book stack area.

This information was from ARL Newsletter No. 114 and from a talk given by Margaret Child February 17 at Columbia University.

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