The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 7, Number 6
Dec 1983


Mississippi Archivists Train Librarians

The Society of Mississippi Archivists conducted a one-day in-service training workshop on basic conservation for public librarians on September 16, 1983, at the North- side Branch Library in Jackson, Mississippi. Sponsored by the Jackson Metropolitan Library System and supported by an LSCA grant from the Mississippi Library Commission, the workshop attracted 22 librarians from eight library systems. Topics covered were disaster planning, archival material accessions, and advice to patrons on conservation of family papers.

First Session of Congress Favored NEH, NHPRC, NARS

The adjournment of Congress on November 18 brought to an end the first session of the 98th Congress, which acted in some very positive ways on several measures significant for archival and conservation organizations. Congress passed reauthorization legislation for the National Historical Publications and Records Commission's grants program, increased the appropriation for the National Endowment for the Humanities by $10 million, established a commission to coordinate plans for the bicentennial of the Constitution, and increased the 1984 appropriations for both the National Archives and Records Service and the NHPRC. And finally significant progress was made on S.905 and H.R.3987, bills to restore independence to the National Archives. This is not to say that there have not been some uphill struggles and periods of discouragement as the General Services Administration continues its practice of undermining the professional staff of the National Archives. Yet on balance, the Congressional record for the first session is a good one.

-Adapted from NCC Director's Report

A German Source for Alkaline Buffered Paper

Nordland Papier GmbH (Postfach 1160, 2992 Dörpen/Ems, West Germany) puts out a large brochure about its long- life paper, with a legend on the front cover: "Papier muss länger leben." Pictures on the inside include Gutenberg, Barrow and Bansa. The text says Nordland has been producing paper with calcium carbonate in it for over 10 years.

Thanks Offered

Philip Smith would like to thank contributors for their generous response to the Jan Sobota Appeal.

Object Evaluation Workshop Helps Outreach

New avenues of communication between curators and conservators have been explored in recent years, sometimes to great mutual advantage. One such avenue that promises to come into increasing usage is the "object evaluation workshop."

Paper Conservator Mary Todd Glaser of the Northeast Document Conservation Center held an object evaluation workshop for representatives from libraries and historical societies in New Jersey on October 18. The workshop was co-sponsored by the New Jersey State Library, the New Jersey Historical Society and NEDCC, and was free of charge to the New Jersey participants.

Librarians and curators from ten institutions brought a variety of objects to be examined by Glaser, including varnished wall maps (a specialty at NEDCC), scrapbooks, drawings, water-colors and a handmade 1893 valentine with an original poem. Glaser was able to suggest the various treatments that might be undertaken by NEDCC depending upon the amount of money that can be spent by the owning institution. In many cases, once the institutions have an idea of the cost of restoration, they can return to their constituencies to raise the necessary money.

In addition, the workshop provided Glaser and two members of the NEDCC Advisory Board (Barbara Irwin and Susan Swartzburg) the opportunity to talk about the proper care and handling of works on paper as well as to explain the role of a conservator and a regional conservation center.

Appointments were scheduled for a half hour each, to give ample time for discussion. Because of its success, the workshop will probably be repeated next year.

Baynes-Cope on Thymol

Another bit of information about thymol, encountered in a 1977 German publication, is the following statement in English from A.D. Baynes-Cope, Principal Scientific Officer in the British Museum's Research Laboratory:

"Thymol may be used to treat mold in a book, but it can act as a very powerful solvent, sometimes with devastating results. Conversely, one of the factors in the choice of orthophenyl phenol as the fungicide for use in the conservation work following the flood of 1966 was its low solvent power."

(from "The Old Book as a Subject for Scientific Examination and Research" in Das Alte Buch ala Aufgabe für Naturwissenschaft und Forschung. Dag-Ernst Petersen, ed. Bremen: Jacobi, 1977.

Thymol has been given attention lately because of increasing interest in pest control, especially since the unusual hazards of ethylene oxide have been recognized. The supplement to vol. 7 #4 of this Newsletter carries directions for building a thymol chamber, and the Center for Occupational Hazards issued a data sheet on safe working procedures for thymol and orthophenyl phenol a few months ago.

New Conservation Center Has Strong Paper Section

The Chicago Conservation Center has just opened at 730 N. Franklin St., Chicago, IL 60610, with Barry Bauman as Director. Although it now has four areas of specialization (painting, paper, textile and photographs) and will add others in time, the paper section was not skimped when the staff was put together. It will be headed by Bill Crusius and Bob Weinberg, who worked 32 and nine years, respectively, for Donnelley's Graphic Conservation Department before it closed about two years ago. They are both fellows of AIC and Bill is a certified paper conservator. Their assistant, Ms. Mary Cropley, has a background in paper conservation as well as an advanced degree in chemistry.

ALA's Books Printed on Acid-Free Paper

Last February the associate executive director of the American Library Association's Publishing Services responded to an inquiry, saying "Our books are printed on acid free paper. We rely heavily on a group of book printers in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area that stock a variety of acid free papers, so we have our choice of bulkings and grades of white and cream colors. We hear from sources in the printing industry that mills are increasingly converting facilities in order to produce acid free papers."

Only one of seven journals are on acid-free paper, however, because the Divisions of ALA make the final decision on them, and generally they prefer the cheaper acidic paper.

Sometimes publishing on acid-free paper, especially on acid-free paper that carries an alkaline reserve in the form of calcium carbonate, is called "prospective preservation." The 2% or 3% of calcium carbonate keeps the paper from becoming more acidic as time goes on, from deterioration of the materials of which it is made and from the action of harmful gases as well. This extends the life of the paper to centuries instead of decades, and thus constitutes a form of preservation treatment in advance. It is one of the cheapest forms of treatment, costing only a few more cents per book, compared to $200 or $300 for aqueous deacidification and about $5.00 for the diethyl zinc mass deacidification process, which is not yet commercially available.

Yet Another Group Tours Japanese Papermaking Facilities

A two-week program to study hand papermaking (washi) in Japan will be conducted by Rural Arts Services of Northern California on January 7 to 21, 1984. The program is designed not only for papermakers, but also for teachers, anthropologists, designers, historians and anyone else with a professional interest in the subject. Program cost is $1800 which includes hotels, most meals, interpreters, program participation, and transportation within Japan. Air fare from the U.S. to Japan is additional.

[The above announcement was from Crafts Report, Nov. The deadline was December 1 and details were to be had from Washi Program, Rural Arts Services, Box 765, Mendocino, CA 95460.]

NEDCC Invites Applications for Conservation Surveys

The Northeast Document Conservation Center has been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to continue its field service program. The major activity is conservation surveys of small and medium sized repositories in NEDCC's region (New York, New England and New Jersey).

A day of on-site consultation and a written follow-up report will be provided at reduced cost throughout the period of funding, which ends in June of 1986. The NEDCC Field Service Director will review building and environment and examine collections of books, photographs, and objects on paper. A written report will be prepared, summarizing observations and recommendations for environmental changes, proper storage end handling, and general needs for conservation treatment. The fee for consultation and preparation of the report will be $150 plus travel expenses.

Libraries, museums, archives, records repositories and historical organizations located in the New England states, New York and New Jersey are encouraged to submit a letter of application for this service. The letter should include information about the nature and size of collections, number and training of staff, budget size, and conservation efforts to date. In general, preference will be given to institutions which hold collections of unique and irreplaceable materials and which demonstrate a commitment to upgrading preservation practices. The number of subsidized surveys is strictly limited and priority is given to smaller institutions which can show financial need.

Condition surveys will continue to be provided at full cost to those institutions which cannot demonstrate financial need or which cannot wait for the selection process. Letters of application should be sent to Mildred O'Connell, Field Service Director, NEDCC, Abbot Hall, 24 School St., Andover, MA 01810.

Midwest Organizational Conference Set for March

The Ohio Committee for Regional Library Conservation, whose initial activities were reported in the September issue of this Newsletter, met in October and changed its name to the Ohio Conservation Committee.

The reconstituted Committee set March 15, 1984, as the date for a working conference of representatives of interested and/or committed institutions. The charge of the conference, to be held in Columbus, Ohio, will be to write bylaws, identify specific methods to achieve the Committee's basic goal (to establish a regional library conservation center), and to outline possible grant proposals. Carolyn Clark Morrow, Southern Illinois University Conservation Librarian, will serve as resource person for the conference.

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