The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 9, Number 2
Apr 1985


Book Conservation School Is Under Way in Belgium

The January issue of De Bookbinder, which is 95% in Dutch, gives news of HICOREB the school for book conservators that was organized by the Flemish Hand Bookbinders' Guild. A little time with a Dutch-English dictionary yielded the following translation:

"Did you know that on October 1, 1984, 20 students (15 full-time and 5 half-tine) started this three-year course of study?

"Did you know that the first exams are already behind them and the results were excellent?"

The pages of the newsletter are adorned with several curious emblems, reproduced elsewhere in this issue.

Two-Year Program in Book and Paper Conservation Offered

Robert Parliament, former Head of Conservation at Princeton University Library, has accepted an appointment as Assistant Professor of Paper Objects Conservation in the Muster of Art Conservation Program at Queen's University in Ontario, beginning April 2.

The program, one of five conservation graduate schools in North America, has four areas of specialization, one of which is Paper Objects (fine art on paper, archival paper, books, and library conservation). Mr. Parliament will be planning and equipping both the new book and paper laboratories, in addition to developing the necessary lectures and studio practice for the two-year program, which begins in the fall. His address is: Art Conservation Program, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6 (613/547-5550).

More information is in an 89-page book of the proceedings of the 10th Conference on Training Programs, entitled "The History and Future Directions of Conservation Training in North America," issued December 1984 by the National Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Property, Washington, DC. It can be obtained from NIC, A&I-2225, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20560.

New ANSI Standard for Permanent Paper

The real meat of this long-awaited standard for permanent book paper (ANSI 739.48-1984, ISSN 8756-0860) is a short passage on the last page, "Minimum Requirements." It specifies a minimum pH of 7.5, cold extraction; folding endurance of 30 double folds across the grain at 1-kg tension; machine-direction tear resistance ranging from 24 to 50 grams for 30 to 60 lb. paper; alkaline reserve of at least 2% calcium carbonate; and no groundwood or unbleached pulp.

The standard may be ordered for $5 from American National Standards Institute, 1430 Broadway, New York, 10018.

The standard does not have the force of law, but may be used on a voluntary basis, as by referring to it in contracts or invitations to bid. It should give added impetus to the current trend toward use of alkaline, buffered paper by book publishers.

British Library Sets Up a National Preservation Office

The Designer Bookbinders Newsletter for March says that the British Library now has something like our own National Preservation Program Office, to encourage preservation in the country as a whole:

"Following the publication last year of Dr. F. W. Ratcliffe's report on preservation policies (or lack of them) in British libraries, the British Library has announced the creation of a National Preservation Office to 'promote throughout the UK the better conservation of library collections.

"The office's four aims are to promote awareness of pressing conservation problems and the need for good practices; provide information and referral services on preservation issues; investigate and initiate debate on important national developments; and encourage cooperative initiatives.

"...Dr. Ratcliffe has been appointed chairman of the preservation office's advisory committee... .but one wonders how much the office can achieve with just one professional member of staff...."

Baltimore Area Group Plans Two Symposia

The Deckled Edge, newsletter of the Baltimore Area Conservation Group, has gotten fatter and the group's programs have become more ambitious. In the Spring 1985 issue, the programs planned for 1985 are listed:

A tour of the Walters Art Gallery manuscript collection and conservation laboratory

A symposium on photographic conservation

A symposium on paper conservation from two perspectives, that of the art conservator versus that of the book conservator

For more information write Montgomery Phair, 3217 St. Paul St., Baltimore, MD 21218.

Class Offers Statewide Information & Education Services

The Cooperative Library Agency for Systems and Services (CLASS) has been operating in California for years, but until recently has not been active in conservation. This year, it began to operate a joint conservation educational program with the University of California. The program offers three services to member libraries: a hotline, a travelling exhibit on care and handling (ready later this year), and a series of workshops, each of which is offered in both northern and southern California. The workshops will be open to the profession at large as well as to staff of CLASS libraries, space permitting. The first workshop (April 8 and 18) is on repairs, enclosures and library binding; the second, to be given on four dates in May and June, will be two one-day sessions on disaster preparation and coping; the third (in June) will deal with storage and handling. The workshops will be presented by Maralyn (Lynn) Jones, coordinator of the UC/CLASS Conservation Education Project, and Barclay Ogden, head of the University of California/Berkeley Conservation Department. To be put on the mailing list to receive announcements and registration information, contact Maralyn Jones, c/o Conservation Department, 416 General Library, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720 (415/642-4664).

Minnesota Center for Book Arts Opens in Minneapolis

The MCBA, at 24 Third St. North, one block from the public library, opened this year and will offer tours, classes and worktops in letterpress printing, hand bookbinding and hand papermaking. It will also have an exhibition and lecture series. There are five categories of membership, starting at $25 ("about the same cost as a hardcover book today").

Also in Minneapolis is the Ampersand Club, a social organization that meets about six times a year and hears talks on books, fine printing and book arts. Information about the Ampersand Club can be had from the Campbell-Logan Bindery, 212 Second St. North, Minneapolis, MN 55401. The Campbell-Logan building, a historic structure renovated for use by book arts craftsmen, is called Inkunabula Arts. Two new tenants are printer Gerald Lange and Rulon-Miller Books, which sells antiquarian books.

The MCBA's telephone number is 612/338-3634 and the zip is 55401.

Papers Announced for IIC-Canadian Group Meeting in Halifax

The annual meeting of the IIC-CG will be preceded by a training workshop, "Computer Technology in Conservation," May 13-16. The conference itself, May 17-19, will include the following papers:

Commercial Storage and Filing Enclosures for Processed Photographic Materials - Scott Williams, CCI

The Potential of Shrinkage Temperature Measurements for Use in Studies of Skin and Leather Conservation - Gregory Young, CCI

Evaluation of Archival Tapes, Part II - Helen Burgess and Season Tse, CCI

Alternatives to Ethylene Oxide [Poster presentation] - Richard Beauchamp, BC Provincial Museum

Registration for nonmembers is $100 for the computer workshop, $95 for the conference. For registration forms, write Registration Halifax '85, 1532 Birmingham St., Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3J 2J7, Canada.

Scarcity of Preservation Managers Felt by Research Libraries

In 1984 an unprecedented number of jobs opened for librarians with preservation experience and training. Most of the openings were for department head or middle management level positions rather than entry level positions. In addition to job openings for librarians to direct new preservation programs, 1984 also saw a number of job openings for book and paper conservators.

One solution for a library unable to recruit an experienced preservation administrator is to identify a competent staff member who has an interest in preservation and arrange for training at Columbia University's School of Library Service. The SLS offers an Advanced Certificate in Preservation Administration for those who already hold an MLS degree, and the program can be completed in two semesters (8½ months). Such an approach insures that the library will have an experienced and competent person available in one year to plan and direct a new preservation program. Already familiar with the library, the individual can tailor studies and projects to particular needs and conditions back home. For more information about the PA program, contact Conservation and Preservation Programs, School of Library Service, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027. Paul Banks, Director of the Programs, can be reached at 212/280-4178. (From ARL Newsletter No. 124, March 12, 1985)

Ethylene Oxide Workshops Offered

Twenty-five people attended the Center for Occupational Hazards' one-day conference on "How to Comply with the OSHA Ethylene Oxide Standard" last November in New York City.

Major topics at the conference were ventilation, outgassing of ethylene oxide from fumigated artifacts, air sampling, the need for alternatives to fumigation, and emergency procedures. Several conservators and curators said that they had closed down their ethylene oxide chambers or were not starting them up because of concern about adequate ventilation.

Anyone interested in putting on a similar workshop in their region should contact Michael McCann at 212/227-6220. The deadline for conforming to the new standard is next August.

Art-Supply Makers to Label Hazardous Items

A front-page article in the New York Times for February 3, 1985, provides detailed information on the progress of the campaign to prevent death and disease among artists and others (including conservators) using art supplies sold through retail outlets without lists of ingredients or warnings of their hazardous nature. Representative Fred Richmond organized hearings in 1980 in Congress, but the proposed national legislation to require labelling of hazardous materials did not pass. In a now familiar pattern, the states then took up the fight and one--California--has succeeded in establishing mandatory labelling of toxic art supplies. Similar legislative proposals have been introduced in New York and Massachusetts. It appears that the states' efforts may be enough to induce compliance of manufacturers. A voluntary program, which involves about 35 companies representing 90 percent of the manufacturers of fine-art supplies, has been initiated.

The federal government regulates safety in the industrial workplace, but not in studios or homes. The materials--solvents, paints, adhesives and so on--are not covered under the Pure Food and Drug Act. Yet they are known to be responsible for various illnesses, with repeated exposure: cancer, nerve damage, miscarriage, heart disease, respiratory disease and others. As a rule, conservators are more cautious in the use of chemicals than artists, probably as a result of their training, and are thus exposed to less hazard than makers of silk-screen prints or stained-glass objects. They still, however, need to know what they are working with in order to take necessary precautions; the sense of smell is a poor guide to the toxicity of a substance. Proper labelling of hazardous art supplies will make this possible.

The California law takes effect January 1, 1986.

Salvage of Paper Money from the Ocean Bottom

When the safe of the ocean liner Andrea Doria was opened on live nationwide television in August, several conservators were briefly on camera. Two paper conservators, Mary Todd Glaser and Lois Price, were there to remove the contents of the safe, mostly paper currency. Lawrence Majewski, Rene de La Rie, and Robert Brill were on hand to examine the currency with the paper conservators in a makeshift "laboratory" on the set. After the program, the bundles of currency, mostly small denomination U.S. and Italian bills, were wrapped and placed in a home freezer. The following day Ms. Glaser returned to the safe to supervise removal and freezing of the remaining bills. It is expected that the bills will then be treated at the Northeast Document Conservation Canter and the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts, which are in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, respectively.

Scholars to Advise in Rescue of Classics

At present, most brittle books are being preserved by microfilming. Several major funded projects are going on now that will take years to complete. Although no institution can be sure that someone, somewhere, has not already filmed a given book, because the record of what has been done is still incomplete, there is a sense of urgency because so many books of the last century are on the verge of being lost and there are so many of them to save. To simplify the work and make sure that books are neither overlooked nor filmed twice, projects usually try to cover a certain field thoroughly. The Association of Research Libraries' cooperative filming project, for instance, covers all Americana for the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

A different type of microfilming project, offering am alternative to blanket coverage, has been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which often cooperate in large preservation projects. The money, an undisclosed sum, is for the American Philological Association's three year model project of preserving deteriorating important works in classical studies in microfilm.

Works will be chosen by the editorial board in charge, which is chaired by Prof. Robert C. Knapp of the University of California at Berkeley. It contains scholars with a range of research interests in classical studies including history and archaeology. Books identified will be filmed by the Preservation Department of the Columbia University Libraries and will be listed in the Research Libraries Information Network (RLIN). Both microfilm (roll-form) and microfiche masters will be generated and stored, and copies of the project's output, either entire or partial, will be made available inexpensively to other libraries and to individual scholars. All revenues from such sales will be used for further preservation microfilming after the end of the grant period.

For further information, contact American Philological Association, 617 Hamilton Hall, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027 (212/280-4051).

Publishers' Bindings: Pride of Manufacture in Hungary

In an era when the quality of American book manufacture is distressingly low and no improvement in sight, it is comforting to chance upon a sign that the old standards of workmanship are still defended in places here and there. Last year a book from Hungary was received at Columbia University, with which was enclosed an orange, black and white coupon that said,

This book was published, printed and bound by the Publishers Akadémiai Kiadó and the Printing Office Akadémiai Nyomda respectively.

Should any deficiency or defect of the nature prohibitive of the normal use of this book become apparent at whatever date and should your bookseller be unable to exchange this copy for a faultless one, please return it together with this coupon to AKADÉMIAI KIADÓ, Budapest V. Alkotmány utca 21. This copy shall be exchanged for a faultless one IRRESPECTIVE OF THE TIME ELAPSED since the purchase of the book and the date when the claim is put in. Should the present title have run out of print, a book of equal value shall be sent to you in exchange which you are free to choose from the titles listed in our catalogue.

The book was Remenyi, Karoly. Combustion Stability. Budapest, Akadémiai Kiadó, 1980 ($18.00).

Grants Received

Workshops Given & Planned

Courses Offered

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