The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 10, Number 2
Apr 1986


Mass Paper Conservation and Paper Splitting

Wolfgang Waechter spoke at the October meeting of the Washington [DC] Conservation Group about two methods used at the German Depository Library in Leipzig, where he is Chief of the Restoration Department. His talk was summarized by Jesse Munn in the Guild's January newsletter (v. 10 #1).

In 1979 his library started using a mechanized facility designed by Mr. Waechter for treatment of large numbers of pages, each of which needs exactly the same treatment. It can perform a large number of wet treatments in one operation--washing, rinsing, buffering, enzyme treatment, bleaching, and sizing. It monitors pH and controls the temperature of the solutions.

The sheets are either packed or rolled up with separating sheets of porous plastic and placed in a transport system that carries the rolls or bundles from one sink to another, six in all, each with its own controls. Up to 400 sheets can be treated simultaneously without being handled in the wet state.

The paper splitting process is not a recent development: it was first described in the late nineteenth century. It is not mechanized either, though it is economical. It is ideal for damaged or embrittled paper, including paper made into lacework by iron gall ink. First support sheets are adhered to the original, using a warm-water-soluble adhesive (gelatin). They are pulled apart, splitting the original, and a third sheet of support tissue is inserted between the halves and adhered with a cold-water-soluble adhesive (methyl cellulose). The outer support sheets are soaked off in a warm water bath. Mr. Waechter expected this process to be mechanized sometime during 1986.

A Good Cheap Way to Store Microfilm

The Bank of Canada has followed the 1975 precedent of the Swedish Archives for storage of its microfilm, and in 1977 began storing its microfilmed records in hermetically sealed pouches, thus sidestepping the ordinary (expensive) requirements of close control of temperature and humidity, air filtration, and protection from any material that might give off an oxidizing gas. They use a vacuum packaging machine that originally cost $16,000, and "retortable pouches" of aluminum foil sandwiched between polyethylene film. All possible air is evacuated and the pouch is backfilled with nitrogen, which is totally inert, dry, inexpensive, and easily obtainable. Agfa Gevaert archival test squares (AN v. 6 p. 90) were put into pouches, which were then naturally aged under very severe conditions of all sorts for a year at a time, without effect. The pouches are even expected to significantly retard fading of color film. Of course they will prove useful in the tropics, where the heat and humidity are very hard on film.

The Public Archives of Canada has decided to use the system for all microfilm sorted in its Records Center Operations.

This news was sent in by Nancy Schrock, who found it in the IMC Journal, v.21 #1 (1986): 15-17. imc=International Information Management Congress (Bethesda, MD).

Nearly-Archival Color Micrographs

Only six years ago, at a conference on the cold storage of motion picture films in Washington, DC, a Kodak representative said that, despite new advances in the manufacture of color emulsions, Kodak felt that cold storage would always be essential for maintaining color. Now Kodak and other companies can furnish color film with such good dark keeping qualities that it is said to be good for 100 years at ordinary temperature and relative humidity. Kodak color print films 5384 and 6290 can be called long-term or archival in this sense. Although they are not as stable as black-and-white silver halide fin properly processed (which is expected to last indefinitely), they are as stable as Cibachrome, or more stable. They use leuco dye technology and are developed by the ECP-2A and ECN-2 processes.

There have been recent improvements not only in film permanence, but in resolution capabilities, optical technology and reproduction and duplication procedures. As a result, more and better color micrographs will be available in the future.

One of the companies supplying the new fiche and film is Micro Aero Charts, Inc. (5078 List Drive, Colorado Springs, (fl 80919-3316, 800/421-8717). They make color fiche of maps for engineers to carry into the field, and they also can supply a very portable microfiche reader, small enough to fit into a pocket. It gives a very good image and can even be focussed.

Eastman color print film 5384/7384 is described in a long article by K. J. Carl et al. in the December 1982 issue of the SMPTE Journal.

Preservation Administrators for Museums

The Bay Foundation has awarded grants to three museums to develop and conduct pilot training programs designed to create a new kind of museum professional who will concentrate on collections care and maintenance. The pilot training programs are expected to prepare the new professionals, called "Collections Care Specialists," for roles in planning and implementing long-term care and maintenance procedures.

Major grants to be spread over a three-year period have been awarded to the Art Institute of Chicago for a program emphasizing art collections, the Arizona State Museum for a program focusing on ethnographic and archeological collections and the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, which will address the special problems of natural history collections. At the end of the program, the Foundation expects that approximately 70 people will have been trained and placed as collections care specialists. The further goal of the project is to develop a comprehensive training curriculum that other museums and museum training institutions can adopt. . . .The Foundation anticipates that it will spend $500,000 on the project. [From the March 1986 Aviso.]

The project is being coordinated by the National Institute for Conservation. It appears to be on a smaller scale than the Columbia University program for training preservation administrators, but will probably give equivalent coverage to topics such as condition surveys, environmental control, education of staff, public and administration, disaster control, fumigation and deterioration of materials. Progress is reported periodically in News from NIC, a Report to the Members of the National Institute for Conservation.

The collections-care training programs will be the subject of a June 10 session at the AAM annual meeting in New York City. Another session will be on collections care itself, including care of library and archival materials.

ICCROM's New Refresher-Courses Packet

People on ICCROM's mailing list recently received a little folder with 13 lightweight colored sheets inside, each describing or announcing a course in conservation at least one week long, given by ICCROM or another organization somewhere in the world. The bottom part of each half-size sheet consists of a mail-in coupon requesting more information. Five of the 13 sheets are of interest to many readers of this Newsletter; the rest have to do with oil paintings and outdoor monuments. Since ICCROM is in a position to hear about forthcoming seminars in the planning stage, they are able to announce them far enough in advance for participants to plan on attending.

The five events relevant to library and archival conservation are listed under "Coming Events." None of them have been announced previously in this Newsletter.

PhotographiConservation Discontinued

A letter to PhotographiConservation subscribers from the Technical and Education Center of the Graphic Arts of Rochester Institute of Technology announced that Volume 7 #2 (June 1985) was the final issue. The reason given is that since its first issue in 1979, information has become more accessible, with conservation being regularly covered in many photography publications.

The T&E Center will continue to be involved in photographic conservation. Its annual workshop on Preservation of Black and White Photographs will continue to be given; a new bibliography on photographic conservation will be published this spring, and the T&E Center will continue to carry conservation news in its Newsletter.

Interdisciplinary Serials Group Formed

The February New Library Scene has a one-page article on formation of the North American Serials Interest Group (NASIG), a coalition of publishers, subscription agencies, bibliographic utilities, librarians and library binders. Membership is currently $15 and membership is already over 150. The first meeting will be at Bryn Mawr College, near Philadelphia, on June 22-25. Room, board and registration are expected to be $160-180. For more information write Rebecca Lenzini, Co-chair, NASIG, the Faxon Company, 15 Southwest Park, Westwood, MA 02090; or John F. Riddick, Co-chair, NASIG, Central Michigan University, 203 Park Library, Mt. Pleasant, Ml 48859.

There is a parallel organization overseas, the United Kingdom Serial Group (UKSG).

Preservation Not a Key Issue for ALA

At its Midwinter meeting in Chicago, the American Library Association scheduled 3½ hours for discussion of a report on "Strategic Areas and Issues" that had been under preparation, with involvement of over 1000 members, for a full year. There were ten issues, but preservation was not among them. The ten issues were: library finances, access to information, intellectual freedom, library personnel resources, the role of libraries and librarians, library service delivery, technology, ALA roles and relationships, AlA finances, and ALA's human resources.

Disaster Planning in Corporations

A new corporate specialty, "crisis management" or "crisis planning," is described on page 53 of the February 24 Tine. Although the nature of the crisis differs, the idea of planning for the unexpected, compiling a written program with late-night telephone numbers and names of executives to be notified, and holding drills that take the form of mock disasters, is very similar to what libraries do. Typical corporate crises are the one that Johnson & Johnson had with poisoned Tylenol, Union Carbide's gas leak in Bhopal, and the Hyatt Regency Hotel's skywalk collapse. A business management professor is quoted as saying, "The worst part of a crisis is being unprepared. By removing the unexpected quality you are removing that which is most unnerving."

The article says that crisis management has become a growth industry among public-relations agencies. They are called in as expert consultants in emergencies, to give advice (on recalls, public statements and so on), investigate the cause of the disaster, and provide much-needed objectivity.

Bed & Breakfast Network for Craftspeople

Wandering craftspeople are nothing new, as anyone knows who has read the social history of bookbinding (see Helmuth Helwig. Das Deutsche Buchbinder-Handwerk. Stuttgart: Hiersemmann, 1965. 2 v.). Earlier issues of this Newsletter (Dec. 1978 and Feb. 1979) described some of the travails of the young Geselle (journeyman)

who was obliged to spend the next few years wandering from town to town in search of work, sometimes finding it, sometimes not. From one of Helwig's tables of unemployment statistics, it appears that throughout Germany, journeymen of any century were more often jobless than employed! Like hoboes and hippies, the journeymen often slept on the ground and accepted handouts. [Dec. 1978 AN]

If the journeyman came to a town that had a binders' guild house (Innung), he was entitled to a sum of money, a meal and a bed for the night.

The January Crafts Report describes, on p. 12, two networks, one in the United States, and the other in New Zealand, that (probably unwittingly) revive the Innung idea, adapted to modern conditions. The "Open Hearth" Bed and Breakfast Network, launched last year in Maine, is going national. It offers low-cost accommodations and breakfast when traveling to workshops, seminars, craft schools, gallery openings or for pleasure. Members may take part as hosts or guests or both, for $10 per household per year. This covers the cost of the directory and a travel ID card. Reservations are to be made in advance. For information write Miriam H. Barteaux, P0 Box 1351, Portland, Maine 04101.

A guild of spinners and weavers in New Zealand has a "hospitality list" that includes names and addresses of weavers and spinners who offer home hospitality to overseas visitors with similar interests.

Appointments Pending

It has been a year now since Robert Warner resigned his job as head of the National Archives and Records Administration after working for its independence from the General Services Administration, and no successor has yet been appointed. The New York Times on January 24 predicted that President Reagan would make the appointment soon (by forwarding names to the Senate) not only for the Archives but for NEH which is also without a head. The President's first nominee for the NEH post was rejected last November by a Senate committee that questioned his credentials.

The two front runners for the NARA post appear to be better qualified than Curran. Herman J. Viola, director of the national anthropological archives for the Smithsonian since 1972, is said to be favored by the White House advisors, but Don Whitman Wilson, director of the Ford Library and Museum in Ann Arbor, Michigan, since 1981, is said to be favored by some professionals at the Archives.

The two men under consideration to head the NEH are Edwin J. Delattre and Robert B. Hollander Jr., who are a college president and professor, respectively. Hollander is said to backed by a broad range of academic leaders and organizations.

A Commercial Conservation Service

The following announcement has been received from the Joseph J. Marotti Co.:

Joseph J. Marotti Co., Inc., of Rutland, Vt., proudly announces the creation of a Bindery Division laboratory in Milton, Vt. The new facility is designed and equipped specifically for the conservaiton of books, documents, maps, and other paper and parchment artifacts. Commercial conservation services including deacidification, cleaning, book restoration, and water damage treatments are available to municipal and public agencies, libraries, museums, and other institutions having need of such services. Mr. Leopold Saint-Paul, the former director of the conservation laboratory at the Université de Liege (Belgium) is the new director and chief manuscript restorer. His twenty-year conservation background includes the restoration of incunables and rare manuscripts dating back to the ninth century. Mr. Norman Beaudoin, who has had four years of previous conservation experience, has been hired as conservation assistant and apprentice to Mr. Saint-Paul. For information concerning services available contact Joseph J. Marotti Co., Inc., RD 2, Milton, Vt. 05468 (802/893-6212).

Chemical Health and Safety Information Service

The Chemical Manufacturers Association can refer callers using their 800 number to people working in their member companies who can answer their questions about the safety of their products. It is not an emergency information service, and it does not provide information about nonmembers' products, but it should make this kind of information easier to get. The numbers are: 800/CMA-8200 (Hawaii and continental U.S.) and 202/887-1315 (District of Columbia and Alaska; call collect).

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