The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 9, Number 7
Dec 1985


Mail-Order Facsimiles of O.P. & Brittle Books

A company called Teleprint (7 Elliewood Ave., Charlottesville, VA 22903) offers a service that will be useful for libraries that want to buy o.p. books or to replace brittle books with "hard copy" instead of with microfilm. Teleprint will obtain a copy and photocopy it (on both sides of the page) onto permanent paper; pay the copyright fee if there is one; have the book bound by the new preservation-oriented standards, using the double-fan method; and send the replacement to the purchasing library within two or three months (delays with copyright problems nay extend that period). Price ($30 up) depends mainly on the length of the book. Telephone: 1-800-582-0026 (in Virginia, 804-979-3420).

Book Cradle and Map Repair Drum Receive Awards

The 1985 Archival Aids award for innovative conservation went to two people: Christopher Clarkson of the Bodleian Library and James Wayre of Canterbury Cathedral and City Records Office. Clarkson's contribution was a book cradle that is shaped to hold a book open at a chosen page while supporting it over the whole of its area. Its design will be included in the forthcoming revised edition of the British Standard on "Storage and Exhibition of Library and Archival Materials" (BS 5454). It was cited because it was a practical solution to a common problem and was easy to make.

Wayre's contribution was a rotating map repair drum, cited because it was a "pioneer attempt to meet a problem."

This was the first year the awards were given. They are made by Archival Aids, a division of Ademco, a British company, through the Society of Archivists. As a general policy the award panel rejected items designed for sale, involving considerable outlay or emanating from an institution that was unlikely to allow the prize money to benefit conservation directly.

No details on the size of the awards or the nature of the devices are available yet.

Disaster Plan for All U.S. Archives Branches

The Denver Branch of the National Archives and Records Administration pioneered a model disaster plan which has been adopted by all the other branches. In conjunction with this, Eileen Bolger of the Denver Branch prepared a statewide director of disaster assistance personnel for the Society of Colorado Archivists.

Permanent Paper in the United Kingdom

The British Library recently did a study, reported in the October Library Conservation News, that shows that British papermakers are gradually converting to the alkaline process, arid that over 50% of the paper purchased by Her Majesty's Stationery Office is alkaline and buffered. Among the UK mills producing alkaline papers are Bowater Kemsley, James Cropper, Olives, Tait, Sommerville, Guardbridge and Stonywood WT.

Harmatan Leather Co. Welcomes April Conferees

Arun Khot of Cincinnati just returned from two months in England and wants to pass on the following message from Malcolm Lamb, proprietor of Harmatan Leather Co., to all participants of the 10th Anniversary Conference of the Institute for Paper Conservation at Oxford in April: Personal callers are most welcome at Harmatan Leather Unit J Penfold Works, Imperial Way, Watford, Tel. 0923/38453. Watford Station can be reached from Euston Station (London) within 20 minutes.

Conservation Instructors Sought for Workshop

The Midwest Archives Conference is looking for instructors to develop and lead a series of one-day workshops, which will be offered during its Fall 1986 meeting. Seven tentative subjects have been identified, among which are:

Introduction to microfilming
Deacidifying paper documents
Planning a modest in-house conservation program for documents and photographs

Instructors selected will have use of a wide range of university facilities including computer education science labs, display area and materials, and audiovisual production facilities. For further information contact Timothy L. Ericson, Archives Division, State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 816 State St., Madison, WI 53706. (From SAA Newsletter, Sept. 1985.)

Vacuum Packaging One Year Later

In April 1984, at the ICCM conference in Sydney, Australia, Dr. Jan Lyall reported on the vacuum packaging research performed at the National Library of Australia. Films had been tested for two conservation-related purposes: vacuum-packaging of works of art in transit, and of little-used materials in the library. This was reported in the December issue of this Newsletter, briefly.

Since the proceedings of that conference are still in press, an interim report is in order. It is based on information supplied on request by the co-author of the original report, Wendy Smith.

The original paper reported some of the research done to find a film as impermeable as possible to both oxygen and moisture, and to study the tendency of packaged material to grow mold, among other purposes. Two basic types of film were tested: Nylon 6/Surlyn and Nylon 6/LIFE with 4% EVA copolymer. Both were so effective as barriers to moisture that packages of paper in an oven at 37°C and 77% RH had still not reached equilibrium with oven conditions after 80 days, though a few mold spots were observed at the edges (observed with the aid of ultraviolet light and scanning electron microscopy). The search continues for a less permeable material. A paper describing subsequent research is in preparation. It will discuss in more general terms the longer-term outcome of the trials described and outline the use of vacuum packaging at the National Library. It is used on three types of low-use items: unbound newspapers for which microfilm copies exist, certain serials, and loose sheet and pamphlet material.

Surlyn is a modified polyethylene: poly (ethylene co-methacrylic) acid with some carboxyl groups converted to Group I or II metals. It has a high oxygen transmission rate bet a low moisture transmission rate, whereas Nylon 6 is just the opposite. The composite film has a moisture transmission rate of 7g/m2 /24hr, and an oxygen transmission rate of 16cm3 /m2 /24hr atm. Bags made of the composite are widely used in the food industry in Australia.

The studies reported used two controls: unbagged paper and packaged but unevacuated paper. Two kinds of paper were used: newsprint and Archival Text. Moisture transmission was measured by the increase in weight of the package. At first they tried humidity indicator strips that changed color with humidity, but these were not reliable under the test conditions. Oxygen transmission was not measured under test conditions. No aging studies have been done yet.

Mold control will be looked into. Ideas under consideration include gamma radiation, ethylene oxide presterilization, and gas flushing either with an inert dry gas, or with a specially formulated gas containing fungicides.

Technical data and information on the price and availability of vacuum packaging machinery and plastic bags in Australia are available from Mr. Bob Selby, Packaging Consultant, Aust Pak Pts Ltd, P0 Box 331, Mentone, Victoria 3194, Australia.

Columbia Enrollment Up

Six administrator and six conservator students entered the Conservation Programs in September at Columbia University's School of Library Service. This is a 50% increase over previous years in this four-year-old program. There are 24 people enrolled in the programs: 14 conservator students, all full time, from 10 different states, and 10 administrator students. All but one of the administrator students is from New York or New Jersey. Theirs is only a one-year program if they already have a library degree, but they are allowed to attend part-tine, which many do.

The Columbia program was the first formal academic program in library and archives conservation when it began in 1981, and it is still the only one in the U.S. for information contact Paul N. Banks, School of Library Service, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027 (212/280-4178).

Major Fire At Dalhousie Law School

The Law Library at Dalhousie University (Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3H 4H8, Canada--same university where the IIC-Canadian Group held its annual meeting in May) was struck by lightning on August 16. The resulting fire completely destroyed

the top floor of the Weldon Law Building, which housed the main collection of the law library. About 60,000 volumes of current statutes and cases, the card catalog, monographs, serials, technical services, and library staff offices were all lost. The fire did not spread to the 90,000 volumes on the floor below, including the rare book collection.

The library had a disaster plan, which was put to use the same morning, according to a story in the November 15 Library Journal. A group of 50 staff and volunteers worked throughout the day removing books from the damaged building for drying.

Diethyl Zinc Schedule

At last word (October 1985), the Library of Congress planned to break ground for its diethyl zinc deacidification plant early in 1986. Construction is expected to be complete in December 1987, and limited production runs will be made in 1988. By the year 2008, 23 years from now, all books needing it should have been deacidified.

The City and Guilds Syllabus

Eric Sweet, a member of Designer Bookbinders, in real life is the Head of the Department of Graphic Communications and Printing Technology at Matthew Boulton Technical College in Birmingham, England. In response to a request from this Newsletter's editor, he forwarded a copy of the new City and Builds 523 Syllabus for Bookbinding and Print Finishing.

Since the syllabus is copyrighted, it cannot be reprinted or quoted, or used by other institutions without permission; but basically what Mr. Sweet sent is 17 pages of what look like exam questions, about 16 of then per page, on printing and binding. They are not really exam questions, bet objectives in the education of the trainee. All the objectives seen simple, reasonable and well justified. Sometimes they involve explaining something, sometimes performing or demonstrating an operation. They are grouped under 51 subjects, which in turn are grouped into "modules" for training programs.

Trainees can learn these objectives anywhere they please, so they don't have to go away to school. We have nothing like it in the United States. For more information write Eric Sweet. The College's address is Ashton Road, Birmingham B6 4BP, England.

Cooperation Among Cooperative Conservation Centers

On October 24-25, representatives of 13 of the cooperative conservation programs inn thins country serving libraries and archives met inn Andover, Massachusetts, to promote communication among themselves, plan for the sharing of resources, identify common needs, and articulate positions on national preservation issues. Joint activities agreed upon were:

  1. Development or sponsorship of workshops and other training programs
  2. Sharing of publications and teaching materials on a more systematic basis
  3. Creation of a formal mechanism for sharing information about participants' activities
  4. Utilization of a centralized data base, to be developed by the Library of Congress.

Organizations represented at the conference were:

Northeast Document Conservation Center
Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts
Midwest Cooperative Conservation Project
Illinois Conservation Project
Ohio Cooperative Conservation
New York State Library
Kentucky Department for Library & Archives
University of California
Society of American Archivists
New York State Archives
Mid Atlantic States Preservation Program
National Preservation Program, Library of Congress

Law Librarians' Meeting Features Preservation

The July meeting of the American Association of Law Librarians (not part of ALA) inn New York City included a session on the physical properties of books, with three speakers. John Dayton, a publisher, described the current tendency to sacrifice quality in book manufacturing. Leonard Schlosser, a paper manufacturer and historian, described the nature and history of paper and discussed permanent paper, saying that mass production of paper cannot be economically feasible and both permanent and durable. Jan Merrill-Oldham summarized the preservation problem and described some of the solutions: standards for book manufacture, strengthening by impregnation with polymers, mass deacidification, optical disks, microfilming and so on.

Although there has been some interest and activity in preservation among law librarians in recent years, this session is the first, or among the first, event to give significant attention to preservation.



A recent study by the American Association of Museums showed that fully 72% had no long-range conservation plans or policies... Acid-free paper ins sold on the Brigham Young University campus from a box labeled "25% neutral pH" (meaning, of course, 25% cotton and neutral pH)... The White House Personnel Office has been interviewing people for the position of Archivist of the U.S. but has not yet made an appointment.

...The Standards Committee of the Reproduction of Library Materials Section (RLMS) of ALA ins working toward the development of standards for microfilm and microfiche boxes and envelopes. The chairman is Imre Jarmy of the Library of Congress.

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