The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 7, Number 3
Jul 1983


An Overhead Photocopier for Bound Volumes

A novel kind of photocopier is being developed for the British Library. It is designed especially for copying from bound volumes without risk of damage to their bindings, through use of a specially designed mirror system. Volumes need only to be rested in a V-shaped holder, which is then raised gently against a suitably placed "window." The copier "looks" at the page vim the mirrors and window, and produces photocopies in the usual manner.

This new overhead photocopier is expected to be on the market in England towards the end of 1983, priced at around £8,000-£10,000 ($13,000-$16,500). It will be produced by a U.K. manufacturer.

An "image digitizer" for transmission of texts to remote locations or storage on optical discs is also being developed for the BL. This appears (from the uncaptioned photographs accompanying the information sheets) to use the sane type of holder, mirrors and window that the photocopier uses. It too is expected to be put on the market in late 1983.

For further information on either machine, please contact: H. Wilman, New Reprographic Technologies Officer, British Library, Reference Division, Development Office, Gt. Russell St., London WC1B 3DG, England (phone 01-636 1544 Ext. 657).

American Face-Up Copier Being Developed

The ALA's Library Technology Reports (LTR) unit has received a $64,400 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to develop a device to allow bound volumes to be photocopied without damaging the binding. This device would be used with an existing plain-paper copier, and would allow the book to lie face up and open no wider than about 90 degrees.

The engineering and prototype contract for the project has been awarded to Morgan Data Conversion, Inc., a Mountain View, California, research and development company noted most recently for designing and building highly specialized equipment for the micrographics and printing industries. The project director is Howard S. White, editor of Library Technology Reports.

Crafts Council's Conservation Section in Hard Times

A letter in the June Paper Conservation News, signed by eight conservators including Nicholas Pickwoad, protests the budget and personnel cuts in the Conservation Section of the Crafts Council. (The Crafts Council's new series entitled Science for Conservators was announced in the October 1982 issue.) The letter says, in part,

"As from April 1983 the conservation spending budget has been drastically cut with the result that the Council has withdrawn from offering grants to conservators for the following year. Although it was agreed to appoint a full- time head of the Conservation Section, the post still remains vacant, also the Section's experienced conservation staff have been made redundant, or forced to leave, with the result that as from June 13 no conservation staff remain.

"Unhappy with the course of events the Conservation Committee of the Crafts Council resigned en masse at the end of April, registering their concern to the Chairman of the Council, David Mellor, and to the then Minister of the Arts, the Rt. Hon. Paul Channon M.P. Due to the General Election, the resignation of the Committee has gone largely unnoticed

ALA-SAA Cooperation on Bibliography of Standards

During the past year, the SAA's Professional Activity Group on College and University Archives established liaison with the Preservation of Library Materials Section of the ALA to cooperate in the production of an annotated bibliography of standards for conservation materials and supplies. The project is being carried out by Richard Strassberg of Cornell University.

NEDCC Awarded Waltham Contract

A preservation contract for $10,000 has been awarded by the Waltham Branch to the Northeast Document Conservation Center in Andover, Massachusetts. The contract is for the repair and restoration of documents including whaling crew lists from New London, 1824-44 and court and customs records, 1790-1820.

National Archives and Records Service

Fire protection. A contract has been awarded for the installation of a Halon fire protection system in the vault housing more than 700 cubic feet of NARS' "treasures," including the Papers of the Continental Congress and important treaties, many of which are on parchment. Concern over the possibility of water damage to the documents from the extant sprinkler system led to the decision to install Halon as the primary system of protection.

Collection survey. The Center for Applied Mathematics of the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) designed a survey plan for sampling the condition of documents stored at MARS; characteristics such as paper quality, format, and the urgency of preservation were recorded. In an effort to determine the extent of the preservation backlog, two conservators and 20 archivists recently completed a full survey of 1,200 sample units (a unit being a book or a box). NBS is to analyze the findings and report to MARS by August 1. Preliminary findings indicate that 75% of the records require no immediate preservation treatment. (This means that 25% of the total of two billion documents do--or may. Twenty-five percent of two billion equals 500,000,000.)

Monitoring the Treasures. The conceptual design for a system to monitor the condition of the Charters of Freedom (Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, Constitution) has been completed by the Jet Propulsion Lab of the California Institute of Technology. The proposed design includes the use of a scanning camera and digital coding and computer analysis of image data.

Independence. The National Archives Advisory Council met in Washington in April. (The Archives has two advisory councils. This one is concerned with matters affecting readers, the other one with preservation.) Actions taken by the Council included a resolution unanimously reaffirming its vote of December 1981 in favor of MARS independence and urging passage of S. 905, "The National Archives and Records Commission Act of 1983," to separate NARS from GSA.

The Coalition to Save our Documentary Heritage, an organization formed a little over two years ago to champion NARS' cause, furnished the following update on this point on June 22:

"S. 905, a bill to create an independent National Archives and Records Administration, now has one quarter of the United States Senate membership as cosponsors, and we expect that the full Governmental Affairs Committee will take some action (hearings or a poll of the committee) next month. Each day our goal of reestablishing an independent National Archives seems more attainable. The assistance of each one of you and your organizations is required to make this happen. If your Senator(s) is not on the cosponsors list, write a short letter pointing out why S. 905 is important and asking your Senator(s) to cosponsor. Copies of these letters should also go to William Roth, Chairman, Senate Governmental Affairs Committee and Howard Baker, the Majority Leader of the Senate. With diligent prodding on our part, Senate passage of S. 905 could occur this fall."

Co-sponsors include Kassebaum (R-KS), Sarbanes (-MD), Cranston (D-CA), Sasser (D-TN), Levin (D-MI), Nunn (D-GA), Cohen (R-ME), Danforth (R-MO), Moynihan (D-NY), Jackson (D-NY), Jackson (D-WA), Durenberger (R-MN), Glenn (D-OH), Hatfield (R-OR), Percy (R-IL), Bingaman (D-NM), Chiles (D-FL), Goldwater (R-AZ), Hollings (D-SC), Hawkins (R-FL), Kennedy (D-MA), Melcher (D-MT), Exon (D-NB), Andrews (R-ND), Fryer (D-AR), Stennis (D-MI), Pell (D-RI), and Riegle (D-MI).

Budget. On May 31, Charlene Bickford of the Coalition wrote: "In addition to the $3 million for the NHPRC, the NCC and the Coalition working together were able to convince the House Appropriations subcommittee on Treasury, Postal Service and General Government to add another $3 million to the MARS budget this year, the first tine that I know of this happening. The advocacy movement is working, if we can just keep the momentum up."

From LC's Semiannual Report

Facility and equipment requirements and budget estimates were developed for the book deacidification project. Bookstack sprinkler installations continued in the Thomas Jefferson Building [the oldest of the three central buildings] and began in the John Adams Building [known as the Thomas Jefferson Building until a few years ago] in the spring.

The first test of the diethyl zinc (DEZ) deacidification process at the 5,000 book level was completed in October. The results of the test were encouraging. It demonstrated that paper in thousands of volumes can be deacidified and made alkaline [i.e. given an alkaline reserve] simultaneously by the DEZ process. There were three technical deficiencies in the test: DEZ gas was poorly distributed at the top of the chamber; the batch injection technique needs improvement or replacement by a continuous injection/removal process; and some book covers were marked with a deposit of zinc oxide. [Small-scale tests have been carried out this spring and summer to address these problems and appear to have brought them under control.]

The Optical Disk Pilot Project began in earnest with the formation of 10 project teams to monitor separate phases of the program. The Deputy Librarian [William J. Welsh] provides overall direction for the program. Joseph W. Price, chief of the Science and Technology Division, serves as director of projects, with technical guidance from Peter G. Sparks, director for preservation. Filming has begun on 91,000 motion picture stills, 20,000 glass plate negatives and transparencies, 4,000 illustrations from the Cabinet of American Illustration, and 1,500 color slides from the Farm Security Administration. Within 18 months, optical disks of these materials and digital compact audio disks will be produced for evaluation and study.

[About 5% of the Library of Congress budget goes for preservation, according to a recent statement from the Preservation Office.]

Dorothy L. Clapp Dies

Dorothy Ladd Clapp, 81, widow of the late Verner Warren Clapp, died in Washington, DC, on April 10. Verner Clapp was a Library of Congress reference librarian who became Chief Assistant Librarian in 1947, was acting Librarian of Congress in 1951-52, and left the Library in 1956 to become president of the Council on Library Resources, Inc. (CLR). Under his leadership, the CLR sponsored the Barrow Laboratory's research and many other projects significant for conservation. The year before his death in 1972, he published his "Story of Permanent/ Durable Book Paper, 1115-1970," a classic in conservation literature that is distinguished both for its careful scholarship and for its lucid prose style. Because of its length, it appeared in Scholarly Publishing in three parts (January, April and July 1971). Restaurator published it as a supplement (no. 3) the following year.

Friends may express their sympathy in gifts to the Verner W. Clapp Publication Fund in the Library of Congress, established in 1956 by colleagues and friends of Mrs. Clapp's late husband. The Clapp Fund was established when Mr. Clapp left the Library to honor him in lieu of a farewell gift, which he would not accept, by making possible the publication of facsimiles of rarities in the Library's collections.

IPC's Brittle Paper Meeting

The Institute of Paper Conservation had a program on brittle paper last September, reported in the December Paper Conservation News. There were two speakers.

"The Brittle Paper Meeting on 30 September had a capacity audience showing the general interest in the subject. Dr. Adel Koura of Darmstadt spoke first, outlining the factors which influence the aging of different types of paper and describing their techniques for improving the aging characteristics in both rag and ground wood papers. Concentrated solutions of sodium hydroxide were shown to swell the cellulose fibers in their circumference and shrink them in length and greatly increase the flexibility of extremely brittle paper. Dr. Koura brought a number of NaOH-treated books to the meeting. The results were very remarkable. The paper was whiter, and far more substantial after treatment, but the text block has shrunk by about 13% and swollen proportionately. Dr. Koura argued that the alternatives of reprography or lamination were more drastic than shrinkage.

"Professor Jack Garnett of the University of New South Wales then talked about his methods of grafting resins using either radiation (cobalt 60) or ultraviolet light for curing. He discussed the versatility of combining the different properties of a number of resins and the fact that they could be grafted onto a number of different substances including wood, cloth, leather and paper. They can act either as a protective varnish or as a consolidant and some are reversible in warm water. Professor Garnett had hoped to demonstrate his u.v. rapid cure treatment, but unfortunately the borrowed equipment was not suitable for treating paper and the few examples appeared to have a varnish-like coating.

"The evening provided a valuable opportunity to hear about these research projects and we hope that in the future an acceptable answer will be found to the enormous problem of brittle books."

1982 Not a Good Year for the Paper Industry

The American paper industry had a sharp 46% profit collapse in 1982. Two companies that did well were International Paper and James River, however. (This information is from Find/SVP's "Information Catalog" for June 1983. It is part of a summary of a surrey of the industry which is offered for sale in the form of computer tapes.)

James River-Fitchburg, Inc., Old Princeton Road, Fitchburg, MA 01420, was one of the companies making acid-free and buffered paper that were listed in the December 1980 issue of this Newsletter.

News From the Humanities Research Center

In December, the conservation laboratories of the HRC, University of Texas at Austin, officially opened for business. While HRC has had a formal conservation program and department since the fall of 1980, the lack of adequate facilities has limited the treatments which the staff has been able to undertake. The new conservation laboratories will alleviate this deficiency.

Don Etherington, assistant director of the Center and chief conservation officer, describes the facilities as being dedicated primarily "to archival materials, instead of artifacts" and similar to those at the Library of Congress. There are three kinds of lab: book, paper (subdivided into manuscripts and works of art on paper) and photographic conservation.

Old Animal Glue

At the IIC Washington meeting in September, there was a Discussion Session on Canvas Supports (of oil paintings). In this session, there was a discussion of the mechanics of structural deterioration of oil paintings on fabric, and Marion Mecklenburg emphasized the powerful role of the animal glue sizing in furthering deterioration of paintings on fabric.

Percival Prescott discussed the different recipes for glue size applications from various periods in European art, and pointed out that in periods when artists' manuals call for the deletion of a size application altogether, he had observed paint films entirely free of age cracks.

(Condensed from the October WCG Newsletter)

Hand Binders' Prices Compared

Three organizations of hand bookbinders--Designer Bookbinders, Delaware Valley Bookworkers Association, and the Association of Quebec Bookbinders--have published in their newsletters summaries of prices charged for boxes (three kinds), pamphlets, quarto cloth cases, quarto 1/4 leather and full leather, cloth rebacking and leather rebacking. The prices charged by Middleton and Eberhardt are listed separately.

The Archival Aids Conservation Award

Archival Aids, a division of Ademco, through the Society of Archivists, offers an annual award for innovative conservation, by which is meant the invention of a new process, the application of an existing process in a new way or the significant improvement of existing processes, materials or equipment.

The award may be made to anyone working in the field of paper or parchment conservation anywhere in the world, whether or not they are members of the Society of Archivists.

The award shall consist of a check for £200 (about $325), a trophy bearing the recipient's name (which shall be returnable), and a certificate to be kept by the recipient. In the event of an award for collaborative work, the £200 will be divided equally and, if appropriate, the trophy will be inscribed with the name of the recipients' institution. In exceptional circumstances a number of smaller awards may be made when certificates and reduced monetary prizes will be given, but no trophy.

Awards shall be made at the absolute discretion of a panel of the Society of Archivists, which is free to consult specialist advisors where appropriate.

The award will be made by Archival Aids at the annual instructional meeting of conservators whenever possible and recipients will be expected to explain their projects and to publish.

Nominations may be received from any quarter, and persons are free to nominate themselves. Requests for nomination forms or enquiries should be addressed to: F.I. Dunn, Honorary Secretary, Society of Archivists Technical Committee, Cheshire Record Office, The Castle, Chester CH1 2DN, England.

The closing date for entries is June 1st of each year. Please enclose a stamped addressed envelope.

Society of Archivists' Annual Instructional Meeting

The Society of Archivists was established in England in 1947, published the first volume of its Journal in 1955 and gave its first instructional course on conservation in September 1976. Speakers at that first meeting included Cockerell, Baynes-Cope and Blunn. Meetings have continued annually since then. Many Americana attended the 1980 meeting in Cambridge. This year it will be at Southampton University, September 6-9. Speakers and topics will be:

Paul Wills - Oriental Conservation Techniques
Jane McAusland - Repair of Prints and Drawings
Maria Woods - Review of Conservation Methods
David Burgess - Classification of Solvents
Phillip Stevens - Removal of Stains
A. Drinkwater - Methods of Fire Protection
E. Denney - Dealing with Laboratory Fires
David Doming - Repairing Fire-damaged Material
Chris Clarkson - Techniques and Specifications for Conservation Binding
Bill Minter will speak on ultrasonic welding, washing paper and paper splitting

There will also be practical work, seminars, tours and a trade fair. Cost for non-members: £80 plus travelling and social events. Programs, application forms and concessionary rail fare forms from Stewart Taynton, Southampton City Record Office, Civic Centre, Southampton SO9 4XL, England.

Standard Developed for Labeling Hazardous Art Materials

In March 1980, Rep. Fred Richmond introduced a bill to amend the Federal Hazardous Substances Act "to establish labeling requirements applicable to substances which cause chronic health side effects" (AN Sept. 1980). That bill did not pass, but the campaign to require labeling of these materials has continued through other channels, and has recently resulted in a voluntary standard which may at least improve labeling practices somewhat.

The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Subcommittee D01.57 on Artists' Paints and Related Materials has developed a new standard practice for the labeling of art materials for chronic health hazards (ASTM Standard D 4236). Many materials used in conservation would automatically be covered by the same standard; and materials in both fields are typically bought retail and used over long periods of time, thus exposing users to chronic health effects.

The voluntary consensus standard, approved 25 March, 1983, represents over two years' work by members of 001.57.08, Toxicity Task Group on Art and Craft Materials, representing art and health professionals and companies both directly and indirectly affected by the standard. It describes a procedure for determining what precautionary labeling is needed for art materials and provides precautionary statements and phrases, describing the type of risk, to be used on labels of art materials which present the potential for chronic health hazards. In addition, the standard calls for such labels to list ingredients hazardous to health and to provide an explanation of what the hazard is and what protection to take in using the material.

The need for such a standard arose from the realization that while there existed labeling requirements for acute hazards under such laws as the U.S. Federal Hazardous Substances Act, there were no national standards for labeling art materials for potential chronic adverse health effects.

Standard 0 4236 is available from the ASTM Sales Services Department, 1916 Race Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103 (215/299-5585).

For more information on the development of the standard or ASTM Subcommittee 001.57, contact Joy Turner Luke, Studio 231, Box 18, Route 1, Sperryville, Virginia 22740 (703/987-8386); or Phil Lively, ASTM Standards Development Division, 1916 Race Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103 (215/229-5481).

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