The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 10, Number 5
Oct 1986


Quick Dehumidification After Floods

Airdex, a Houston firm, has a Swedish air-drying machine that is so efficient that it can dry out a building that has been completely soaked with water. They say they can even dry out a library full of wet books on the shelves, leaving the books dry and without mold. According to an article in the November 15, 1985, Library Journal, the technology is basically that of an extremely efficient refrigeration system, pumping into the building superdry air and pulling out quantities of moisture-laden air. It has been used for drying grain in elevators, and cargo ships. The machine is rented and sold by Airdex. Rental in 1985 was about $5500 a weak. Their address is now 22700 Post Oak Blvd., Suite 1520, P.O. Box 460088, Houston, TX 77056, and their telephone is answered 24 hours a day: 713/963-8600.

Research on Preservation

ALA President Sets No Preservation Goals

In her July 2 inaugural address, the American Library Association's new president Regina Minudri announced that "diversity" would be the Association's theme for the coming year, according to the July/August 1986 American Libraries. She described four areas of concern (e.g., illiteracy) and six challenges (e.g., latch-key children) but none of them related even remotely to preservation.

Within the American Library Association, there are several sections within the Resources and Technical Services Division and the Association of College and Research Libraries that are concerned (in the case of PLMS, the Preservation of Library Materials Section, one could almost say "obsessed") with preservation. It is still a grassroots movement in our national library organization.

More on Photogard

A few more facts are available from an article in Modern Photography and another letter from A. K. Mehta, 3M Product Manager (see June issue of AN, p. 38 for the original article on Photogard). The coating is silane, a polymerized coating similar to epoxy, usually applied under special conditions just after processing. It normally incorporates a UV absorber, enabling the photographs to last about five tines as long in sunlight without fading. Fungus cannot grow on the treated film. The coating has anti-static properties. It can be used on all types of film. It is cured by UV radiation. Over 100 finishers in this country offer the Photogard service (call 800-328-1300).

Since Photogard cannot be removed, it does not satisfy the reversibility criterion for conservation treatments; but there may be tines when its use is appropriate.

International Organizations Set Preservation Goals

Three international organizations, representing libraries, archives and information agencies, had a joint meeting in October 1985 in Veldhoven, the Netherlands. One third of their agenda was preservation and conservation.

The three sister organizations, IFLA ICA and FID, agreed on five main recommendations aiming at joint projects in preservation and conservation:

  1. General world survey of the material condition of archive and library collections, conservation staff needs and methods and techniques of conservation (IFLA/ICA)
  2. Six studies and guidelines on different aspects of the preservation and restoration of documents and the management of documents and current documentary collections (IFLA/ICA)
  3. Glossary of conservation terms (ICA, with IFLA and FID)
  4. International Standards for Conservation.
  5. Preservation of modern materials in libraries and archives workshop (20-25 specialists) to consider the preservation of magnetic tapes, optical discs, and other modern information storage devices.


A Brief Report of the ALA Meeting in New York Last June

The Library of Congress appealed to Congress and got back the greater part of the million dollars cut from the preservation budget; it appears that some congressmen had not realized they had cut the Library of Congress's budget twice.... In the continuing saga of what has been jokingly referred to as the "information explosion" at LC, participants learned that the NASA report on the explosions at the diethyl zinc deacidification facility, citing errors both of design and of operation, would soon be out (it is now out, and can be obtained from National Technical Information Service (NTIS), 5285 Port Royal Rd., Springfield, VA 22161). The biggest explosion, in February, was caused deliberately. NASA called in the army to cut a line with plastic explosives, to help them find where DEZ was building up inside (details in the LC Information Bulletin for July 7).... Library Binding Service's forthcoming Archival Products line attracted a lot of attention at meetings. They are working on better adhesives, boards, cloth, pamphlet binders and an adhesive binder machine. They already supply a variety of archival endsheets, and they have a brittle book replacement service: you send the book, they return the copy. (P.0. Box 1413, Des Moines, IA 50305, 800-247-5323 & ask for Bob Strauss.)... Four preservation librarians and five large library supplies vendors net at the convention on June 28, to discuss possible cooperative efforts to improve the quality of advertising content and to widen the range of materials offered to the library market; so the dialogue between suppliers and librarians in this area began. ... In the Manuscripts Discussion Group of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section, Elizabeth Betz Parker of the Prints and Photographs Division at LC described a new preservation process for glass plate negatives: transfer them to microfilm with the polarity reversed.

A Good Cheap Way to Store Color Movies

In the April issue, a new method of storing microfilm was described, now used by the Bank of Canada and the Swedish Archives: to package it in airtight pouches made of inert aluminum foil and polyethylene, backfilling the pouches with nitrogen.

The December 1983 issue of the SMPTE Journal has an article by Roland Genes and Hans-Evert Bloman, describing how the Swedish Film Institute is using a very similar method to save all Swedish color feature films for the future: "An Inexpensive Method for Preservation and Long-Term Storage of Color Film," p. 1314-1316. (smpte=Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.) Before sealing the films in the pouches, they rewind and condition them in a cabinet fitted out to filter the air inside using Purafil, and to control the temperature and relative humidity within close limits. the bags are not backfilled with nitrogen, but since very little air is left inside, the problem of maintaining a constant relative humidity at low temperatures is effectively dealt with. The film can be stored in any freezer, even a household freezer or refrigerator. Before use the film is conditioned one day in the bag and for another day or two outside the bag at room temperature. This method of storage, the authors say, "stops fading cold."

Paper History Exhibition Honors Retiring Henk Voorn

In 1971/72 the Royal Library in the Hague acquired from paper collector Henk Voorn a unique private collection in the field of paper history, which became the foundation of a new special department, alongside the departments for Manuscripts, Old Printed Books, Bookbindings and Chess. At the same tine the former owner was appointed curator to the collections he had amassed over a period of 25 years. Owing to Voorn's continuous efforts and good personal contacts within the paper world, it has known an uninterrupted growth during the 15 years of his curatorship, and is now one of the world's richest and most versatile collections in this field.

(In the days before the Friends of the Dard Hunter Paper Museum was organized, Henk Voorn was one of two consultants of world stature who were called at different times to assess its value to the scholarly community.)

An exhibition honoring Voorn on the occasion of his October 1 retirement opened October 2 and will be up till November 14 at the Royal Library. All parts of the collection are represented by one or more items, such as Japanese papers, western decorated papers (including Dutch gilt papers and marbled papers), watermarks, rare ream wrappers, paper art, and antique paper moulds. In addition to these, several publications on paper history from the comprehensive reference library in the department are shown, among which are some of Voorn's many books and articles. The catalog, available from the Library at £20, describes all 190 items and contains a complete Voorn bibliography of over 200 titles, including his Geschiedenis der Nederlandse papierindustrie (History of the Netherlands Paper Industry, 3 vols.), his magnum opus. He wrote this work for the Institution for Research of the History of the Netherlands Paper Industry, of which he has been the director since 1954.

The Leiden art historian Dr. Albert J. Elan has been appointed Voorn a successor.


Fall classes began at the Creative Arts Workshop in New Haven September 29, including one on bookbinding and two on calligraphy. One-day workshops on Saturdays or evenings are continuing through the end of January. They include:

Annette Hollander: Things to Make from Board and Paper
Faith Harrison: Paper Marbling Workshop
Barbara Cash: Producing a Handmade Book
Theresa Fairbanks: Understanding Paper
Gisela Noack: Fast and Easy Binding Workshop

CAW, 80 Audubon St., New Haven, CT 06511 (203/562-8396).

The Gateshead Technical College conservation course now leads to a Masters Degree in Conservation of Fine Art, as a result of a cooperative agreement between GTC and Newcastle upon Tyne Polytechnic, whereby both institutions contribute both teachers and facilities. Entry will generally be restricted to Honours graduates in fine art, art history, chemistry or physics.

At the London College of Printing, bookbinding is taught in the beginning and advanced certificate course in craft bookbinding, evening classes in print finishing processes, and the diploma course in print finishing, planning and production. Four of the evening classes concern bookbinding or conservation.

Both the craft bookbinding courses are full-time, 35-week courses. The diploma course is a full-time, two-year course. The brochures say, "Students from overseas should make enquiries of their own government." for information write J. MacWilliams, Head of Department, Print Finishing Processes, Room W124, London College of Printing, Elephant and Castle, London SE1 6SB. He can give information about all the programs.

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