The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 12, Number 1
Jan 1988


Koppers Deacidification Process Not Dead

The Koppers patent for the "Bookkeeper Process" for deacidifying books has been bought by Richard E. Spatz, who is working to commercialize it. He is at Farmhill Rd., Sewickley, PA 15143 (412/741-4875). [Previous stories in AN v.9 p. 4 and v.10 p. 85.]

Battelle/Frankfurt Looks Into Mass Deacidification

The Battelle Institute in Frankfurt, West Germany, has been commissioned by the Deutsche Bibliothek to investigate and test methods of mass deacidification now under development or trial usage, to see which can be recommended for use, and to recommend the optimal size and construction of a deacidification facility. The report is expected to be ready by the middle of 1988.

Canadian Archives Gets Conservation Unit

A new Conservation Branch has been established in the National Archives of Canada. It combines conservation, preservation and restoration activities, and has the responsibility of establishing a Comprehensive Conservation Program for the Archives.

Preservation treatments used to ensure the longevity of historic paper records- -similar to the mass deacidification system, encapsulation and other forms of protective treatments--will be used to reduce future conservation treatments. To ensure the long life of new important government documents, the Archives will advise the responsible government officials about materials to be used when the documents are created.

Conservation research will be a necessary part of the branch responsibilities. A number of projects are already underway, such as the strengthening of paper records, the analysis of paper records to determine whether their long-term preservation is affected by deacidification agents, and the ongoing research into the conservation of the various types of photographic items.

The Conservation Branch will continue to address its need for trained and experienced manuscript, map and book

Institute Of Paper Chemistry To Move South

The IPC is ending its affiliation with Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, to move to the campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. The move is expected to be complete by 1991. IPC has been affiliated with Lawrence University for the past 58 years.

New Hampshire State Library Initiates Preservation Surveys

With a modest and simple grant program, the New Hampshire State Library is encouraging public libraries to have surveys done by the Northeast Document Conservation Center. NEDCC's surveys are subsidized already, but apparently the State Library's grants covered the remaining costs, which totalled $5,500. Recipients were selected on the basis of eight criteria, which covered commitment to preservation and sound administration, and the value of the collections. For information contact Matthew J. Higgins, State Librarian, NH State Library, 20 Park St., Concord, NH 03301 (603/271-2393); or NEDCC.

Virginia State Library & Archives Now Safe But Inadequate

After being closed for 11½ weeks for safety reasons, the Virginia State Library and Archives are open to the public again during normal business hours. In 1987 a review of State Library building deficiencies revealed that the electrical system was operating at a 25% overload. Circuit box temperature ranged between 200 and 250 degrees. The internal stack area is a maze of 11 floors, there is no direct egress from offices on four levels, and no fire suppression system anywhere in the building. There were no heat sensors or fire detectors, insufficient exit signs, and a standpipe system disconnected in 1958. The fire marshal stated that in case of fire it would be virtually impossible to bring in fire hoses; the best they could do would be to get people out, let the interior burn, and try to contain the fire from the exterior. On August 19 the Governor's Office shat the building down to protect lives, and all staff were relocated in three separate state buildings.

While the building was closed, other deficiencies were intensively investigated: structural, mechanical, spatial, and most importantly, environmental. The HVAC system is 48 years old and insufficient. The buildup of soot in the ventilating system has absorbed loose asbestos. Heat and humidity in the stacks, rare books room, and vault have caused serious outbreaks of fungus and mold for many years. The electrical crisis, however, has made the State Library a top priority in state government, and in August a visual presentation was made to the Joint Finance Legislative Committees.

Since then, the electrical and other systems are being upgraded; stack areas are being cleaned; the number of battery-powered exit signs has been doubled; about 400 smoke detectors have been installed; the environment is being tested every other week for viable asbestos; and funds are being sought to address the humidity problem. Meanwhile, an analysis is being made of the amount of damage to be expected if the records stay where they are for several more years. The site has been chosen for a Records Center, but money to build it has not yet been appropriated. [From the Fall 1987 NAGARA Clearinghouse.]

Until recently, the W. J. Barrow Restoration Shop was located in the State Library building.

COH Is Now Center For Safety In The Arts

The Center for Occupational Hazards (COH) has changed its name to the Center for Safety in the Arts (CSA) so that it will better express the scope of the Center, as it has evolved since its founding.

The Tate Flood: Good News Is No News

Ever since the flood in the 1920s the Tate Gallery has had contingency plans in case of another disaster, so when a water pipe burst on the roof of the conservation block at 2:45 am on July 24, pouring thousands of gallons down into the building, the night staff on duty were able to act promptly.

While the maintenance staff went into the roof to repair the pipe, the security staff moved the paintings in the department to places of safety. They then phoned the fire brigade and the deputy Keeper of Conservation, Roy Perry, who together spent the rest of the night sweeping the water down to the bottom of the elevator shaft, where it was pumped away by the fire brigade.

This meant that the water level never went above two inches on any of the floors. Since everything is stored in civil service cupboards on plinths, none of the pigments, records, electrical equipment, or the thousand and one things kept in a large conservation department were damaged.

The press and news media turned up in force when it was all over, wanting to see if any valuable painting had been damaged. Lack of disaster resulted in a few polite notices and a 10-second mention on the 6:00 news. Efficiency and advance planning do not make newsworthy items. [From the November 1987 Conservation News.]

Nitrate Copying Project In U.K.

Nitrate Project 2000 is a scheme to preserve the enormous wealth of material on film stock made before 1952, much of which is rapidly deteriorating. The project aims to collect newsreels, documentaries and feature films and to copy them onto stable film stock. A fundraising campaign has been launched by the Nitrate Project 2000 team; they may be contacted at 111 Wardour St., London W1V 4AY, England. [From Conservation News #34, Nov. 1987.]

Don W. Wilson Heads National Archives

Early in December Don W. Wilson was sworn in as U.S. Archivist, after being confirmed by unanimous consent of the Senate on November 20. (Earlier story was in November 1987 issue, p. 100.)

New York Public Library Goes Underground

In 1956, the New York Public Library's collection outgrew its 88 miles of stacks in the main building, and the overflow has been stored in other buildings ever since. Now ground has been broken for a subterranean expansion of the main building that will have room for 3.2 million volumes in what officials believe is the world's largest compact shelving area. It will go underneath Bryant Park, the "backyard" of the library, and be connected to the library's third-floor Main Reading Room via a 62-foot-long tunnel for a computerized conveyor system for books.

Why Carfax Has No U.S. Telephone Number

Carfax Publishing Company, which distributes The New Bookbinder in the United States, does all its business from England. It has no one in America, despite the fact that it furnishes an address in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, in its advertisements. That is merely a drop point for mail. To get the quickest response on claims and new subscriptions, one should write to the English address: P0 Box 25, Abingdon, Oxfordshire 0X14 3UE; or call them at Abingdon (0235) 30444.

Lobbying For Archival Paper In Australia

The Archival Paper Action Committee of ICBM (Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material, recently renamed the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material) has met at least five times so far, and is carrying out an ambitious program which, if successful, will:

  1. Establish Australian standards for permanent paper;
  2. Gain tariff concessions for papers used in conservation and preservation (they have to be imported, because they are not locally produced); and
  3. Get purchasing agents, publishers and printers to use archival paper.

Apparently this effort dates from May 28, 1987, when a seminar on permanent paper was held in Sydney, sponsored by the Library Association of Australia and the Australian Advisory Council on Bibliographic Services. Ministers in the national and state governments have been urged to encourage the use of archival paper, by sending them a persuasive letter from Cohn Pearson (AICCM President) and an enclosure of brittle paper, furnished by Jan Lyall of the National Library; many favorable replies have been received. The Standards Association of Australia, in response to a request from the National Library (Jan Lyall), is forming a new committee to prepare the standard, and AICCM will be represented on it. The search continues for an independent testing laboratory to aid in this effort.

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