The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 11, Number 6
Aug 1987


A Useful Clearinghouse On Computer Applications

The Watson Library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art has a clearinghouse on computer projects, literature, consultants, software and hardware, started in 1981 by Patricia J. Barnett, the systems librarian there. It covers art history, museum collections and related visual and bibliographic research support projects, systems and documentation; and it cane into existence because there was no one place to find all this information. It does not include financial management or membership functions--only matters related to collections management, in libraries with art collections as well as in museums and national and international projects. Information is given over the phone, by mail, and (by appointment) in person. A major objective is to avoid duplication of effort. For more information, see the "Resources" column in Museum News for June; or call the Watson Library; or visit the clearinghouse, which is now open for consultation.

LC Drafts Preservation Decision Chart

The Library of Congress's Office of Planning and Development, during the period October 1986-March 1987, prepared a preservation decision chart that aims to make explicit the rationale for the use of various preservation techniques on collections or groups of materials, since decisions about individual items are not considered possible, given the scope (size) of the collections. It considers such matters as access, space savings, service, and cost. The Deputy Librarian has sent the report to the Preservation Policy Committee for review and possible implementation.

Three More Face-Up Copiers Sold In The U.S.

The Archivist, a face-up copier sold by Total Information Ltd. (AN v.10, p. 37, 92; v.11, p. 31), has been bought by the New York Public Library, Arizona State University and Georgetown University, according to the company rep at the ALA meeting. The University of Southern California is using the prototypes of both the Archivist and the face-up copier developed for the American Library Association, so that makes five known to be in operation in this country.

Pre-Conservation Curriculum At Virginia Commonwealth

Since 1974, Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond has been preparing undergraduates for graduate study in conservation school. It is the only such pre-conservation curriculum in the United States. Although most of its graduates are headed for art conservation, young people whose hearts are in book or paper conservation might do well to make it part of their preparation. Courses required are, in order of decreasing emphasis, art history, art conservation, fine arts studio, chemistry, French or German, English, history, mathematics, and museum methods. Even for someone who is only interested in books, this would offer them a chance to study medieval illuminated manuscripts, methods of working with solvents (to remove stains and scotch tape), sketching and rendering (to illustrate book structure), the chemical makeup of adhesives, inks, paper and so on, the German language (with its rich bookbinding literature), the use of English (for communicating with curators, giving papers at AIC, etc.), our civilization (whose records we want to preserve), and so on. For more information, write VCU Art Conservation Laboratory, Dept. of Art History, 922 W. Franklin St., Richmond, VA 23284, or call Larry Pace, 804/257-0378.

New Ph.D. Program Allows Specialization In Conservation

When the library school at Case Western Reserve closed, its library was acquired by the University of Alabama, whose library school will use it to support a new program of doctoral studies in librarianship. The program, will have five possible areas of specialization, one of which will be historical and conservation studies, and will begin in the fall of 1988.

A National Materials Testing Service In England

According to the June Paper Conservation News, the Department of Conservation of the British Museum is now able to offer a service for testing materials for use in the storage and display of antiquities. The service is available to all museums, institutions, conservators, designers and architects involved in this type of work. Use of the service will include advice based on the results of the 2000 tests already undertaken during the past 10 years. The index of previous test results serves as a quick guide to selection of a suitable material. Contact Susan Bradley, Dept. of Conservation, British Museum, Gt. Russell St., London WC1B 3DG No information is offered on whether this service will be provided to conservators outside Britain.

SAA To Certify Archivists

At their January meeting the Council of the Society of American Archivists voted 8 to 2 for a plan for certification of individual archivists. After a one-year grace period for certification of practicing archivists by petition, certification will be granted on the basis of tests constructed under the direction of an SAA board and administered by a national testing agency. The board should have a detailed plan ready by December 1. Only about half of SAA members are in favor of certification. (More information in The Primary Source, Sun. 1987, and the May 1987 SAA Newsletter.)

Regional Groups Of IIC Described

The International Institute for Conservation held its Annual General Meeting in London in January; this was a business meeting. Appended to the report of this meeting in its Bulletin were reports from its five regional groups:

IIC-Canadian Group, with a membership of 350. They have incorporated as a separate body, but will retain their old name for a while at least. The IIC-American Group did this about 1972, and became the AIC.

Section Française de l'IIC (455 members)
IIC Nederland (80 to 100 members)
Osterreichische Sektion des IIC (about 400 members)
IIC Nordic Group (76 members)

President of IIC is Susanne P. Sack and Norman Brommelle is Secretary-General. Jane McAusland and Norbert Baer are members of the Council, which has 12 members total, aside from the officers.

Two Stable Color Films

At the seventh annual winter meeting of the Photographic Materials Group of the AIC in February, Henry Wilhelm and Ara Hourdajian described two new stable color films. Henry Wilhelm, according to the report of this meeting in CAN (July issue), gave two successive presentations in which he covered the relative stability of different contemporary color materials; the market factors which have influenced the evolution of more permanent materials; and an update on Polaroid Archivalcolor, an "ultrastable" print material employing pigments. Wilhelm's test suggest that Archival-color's permanence is comparable to that of the most stable selenium-toned black-and-white prints.

Ara Hourdajian (Microcolor International) discussed Cibachrome micrographic film and its applications. This material, capable of extremely sharp images, is said by some to be the most stable color microfilm available today.

Reagan Considers Historian For U.S. Archivist

Historians and archivists were pleased to learn last month that Don Wilson was under serious consideration for the office of U.S. Archivist (head of the National Archives). He has a Ph.D. in History and currently directs the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum. The last nominee, John Agresto, was not considered by professional organizations to be qualified for the job.

New Canadian Museum Policy Described: Conservation Not Cut

On May 21 the Canadian Minister of Communications announced that the National Museums of Canada, of which the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) is a part, would be dismantled over the next year or two; the four national museums will become autonomous institutions; CCI, together with the Museum Assistance Programmes (MAP) and the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN), will report directly to the Department of Communications; and the International Programme and Mobile Exhibits Programme will be phased out, and the resulting funds reallocated to MAP.

A detailed report on the issues, and the government's avowed plans for Canada's conservation-related institutions, is in the June IIC-CG Newsletter.

Four New Cooperative Programs

Lisa Fox and Debra McKern spoke at a session of the Society of Mississippi Archivists in April on the topic of cooperative preservation programs. Debra McKern spoke about what each institution must do for itself before entering a cooperative program, and Lisa Fox described the accomplishments of two state programs (South Carolina and Kentucky) and two local programs (Charleston and Atlanta). Two of them are new functions of old organizations, and two are being carried out by new organizations. Three or perhaps all of the four serve more than one type of institution, and two cover archives, libraries and museums. Three cover disaster preparation, two offer a variety of instructional and informational services, and three offer services not offered by any of the other four (cooperative purchase of supplies, cooperative collection development and needs assessment).

Leather Conservation Centre Finds New Premises

The Leather Conservation Centre has moved to mew premises within Northampton which can provide office and workshop facilities. Research facilities will still be available at the BLMRA. The new address for correspondence is: 34 Guildhall Road, Northampton NN1 1EW England.

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