The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 12, Number 4
Jun 1988


Private Enterprise Opposes Commercial Availability Of DEZ


The May 1988 American Libraries ran under the caption "Deacidification monkeywrench":

The Library of Congress thought it had a good proposal before appropriation hearings this spring: instead of Congress funding a mass deacidification facility run by LC with its DEZ (diethyl zinc) technology, it could allow LC to provide plans and technology to a private firm and contract that firm's facility for 20 years. LC would have priority for its materials, but other libraries would get the service at the same cost. Facilities could be built worldwide

Not only was the proposal cheaper and less risky than previous plans, but Akzo Chemie America was ready to go with it--especially since the firm's test facility in Texas was up and running well with DEZ. The Senate liked the plan, but the gears stalled in the House: With the help of a U.S. representative, a small Pittsburgh outfit marketing the "Bookkeeper Process" (liquid-phase freon) has called a foul, saying LC's plan would hurt other deacidification enterprises.

Stay tuned.

Book ( Selection Tool Identifies Alkaline Books

SciTech Book News, a monthly journal that publishes short reviews of science books, has begun indicating which of the more expensive or important ones are on alkaline paper. If a book is tested (with a felt-tip pen containing chlorophenol red) and turns out to be acid, they say this too. They started the practice with the May 1988 issue.

Address: 5600 NE Hassalo St., Portland, OR 97213 (503/281-9230).

Two Apprenticeships & Nine Workshops Funded At Iowa

Bill Anthony called in the news that he has received $140,000 from the Mellon Foundation to train two apprentices over three years, and to give three one-week workshops during each of those three years. This year the workshops will be given in October, November and February, and will be on Treating valuable pamphlet collections, Nineteenth Century cloth case bindings and Protective enclosures for books and pamphlets. For more information, contact Mr. Anthony at the University of Iowa Libraries, Conservation Department, Iowa City, IA 52242 (319/335-5908).

A Winning Formula

William Leisher, who has the enviable job title of Executive Director of Conservation, Art Institute of Chicago, spoke last year at a high-level meeting entitled "Invest in the American Cultural Collection," sponsored by the National Committee to Save America's Cultural Collections. He did not actually make a presentation, but he gave a good summary of the session called "Caring for the American Collection," in which three different preservation or conservation projects had been described: historical preservation in Savannah, conservation at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the conservation program at the Newberry Library that was initiated in 1963. He said:

I would like to take a moment to examine the three projects described by the panel, and to outline the elements contributing to their success. I believe that the formulas for these achievements, even though for very different media, contain remarkable similar ingredients.

All started with a survey of the collections and an assessment of resources. This was followed by an articulation of the problem and the development of a comprehensive program of collections care and management. In each example, both Federal and private sector funding was sought on the basis of previous research, and local involvement and investment became essential. In the case of Savannah, the grass roots approach was particularly important for involving the community with the project. Finally, the expansion programs, the improvement of facilities and the individual treatments were all based on priorities established through collection surveys and long-term planning done by professional conservators and preservationists....

Each project became the centerpiece which attracted further funding for conservation programs and related facilities. The tours through the museum, library facilities and the restored sections of Savannah served to raise community consciousness regarding conservation and preservation....

Another Italian Conservation Group

The "Associazione per la conservazione e il restauro" (address: Corso di Porta Ticinese 12, 1-20123 Milan, Italy) was recently founded in order to develop and disseminate scientific and technical information concerning the conservation and restoration of parchment, paper, photographic supports and ancient textiles. It intends to promote research and scientific exchange, to assemble and disseminate technical information, and to cooperate with other organizations active in the same field, both in Italy and abroad.

More Masterclasses In Bookbinding At Soundwell

The two Bookbinding Masterclasses organized by Sound-well Technical College in Bristol (by Bernard Middleton and David Sellars) have proved extremely popular with participants not only from the UK, but from France, Germany, Holland, Malta, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, and the USA.

During July/August 1989 it is hoped to hold four or five one-weak Masterclasses in both restoration and creative binding. Anyone wishing to receive prior information on all workshops and masterclasses should ask to be put on the College mailing list. Write Greg Harrowing, Soundwell Technical College, St. Stephen's Rd., Soundwell, Bristol, Avon, BS16 4RL, England.

Callers Should Make Allowances For Twinrocker's Telephone

Kathryn and Howard Clark (Twinrocker Handmade Paper, Brookston, Indiana) have three telephone numbers, all three of which ring both at home and at work, so they should be easy to reach, but the other day no calls were going through. The problem was probably not that relay station near Chicago that failed recently, but lightning. Mr. Clark explained to the Editor that in rural areas, phone service is more often affected by lightning than in urban areas. Their phone company is unusual too, because it is one of those local companies that still survive here and there, but now it is part of a national conglomerate of similar companies. It is not unusual for the Clarks to have phone trouble: one day all three telephones rang constantly.

Italian Paper Conservators Establish Subgroup on Books

The Centro di Studi per la Conservazione della Carta announced in its February issue that it had set up a working group, composed of members, which will concern itself with classic and modern binding. The group intends:

to establish contact with managers and organizations in the book community in Italy and abroad.

to spread knowledge of binding techniques.

to promote the introduction of contemporary artistic forms and experimentation in new materials and techniques.

For more information and for possible suggestions write to: Gruppo di Lavoro "Legatura classica e moderna"; Centro di Studi per la Conservazione della Carta; Via Festo Avieno, 92; 00136 Roma; Italy.

Myth About Alkaline Conversion

Outside the paper industry, one frequently encounters the belief that conversion to alkaline papermaking involves buying a new paper machine, "retooling," or shutting down for extended periods of time. International Paper's Ticonderoga mill was said by someone to have shut down for two weeks when it converted to alkaline. The Editor asked someone who had been there at the time if this was true, and he said no; it was only 12 hours. The only modifications to the equipment that were necessary were minor ones, to make tie-ins for the carbonate and the size. That was in November 1986.

The cost of a paper machine probably does make paper-makers think very hard before they take it out of straight production to run trials, but the opportunity to increase profits often provides the necessary motivation. Probably the uncertainty of knowing how long it will take before all the characteristics of the alkaline version of a paper will be optimized puts them off too. Sometimes it just doesn't work, and they have to go back to making the paper the old way. Mills that make a great variety of papers have to bring each one separately to the alkaline side, and they must encounter a number of surprises on the way to complete conversion. But at least they do not have to cope with extended shutdowns or retooling.

Michigan Conservation Alliance Founded

The Michigan Alliance for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage is attempting to bring together people, institutions, and organizations concerned with finding solutions to the problem of deteriorating cultural resources in Michigan. A working group has begun defining the goals and objectives for the alliance and designing a plan of action. To make suggestions or to be placed on the mailing list, contact Ronald Means, Michigan Council for the Humanities, Suite 30 Nisbet Bldg., 1407 5. Harrison Rd., East Lansing, Ml 48824.

Manitoba Fumigation Chamber Converted

In April 1982, Charles Brandt's description of his big new lab at the Provincial Archives of Manitoba was printed in the Abbey Newsletter. It included a detailed description of his state-of-the-art fumigation/freeze-drying chamber, designed by Slack Associates for use with ethylene oxide and incorporating remote control and fumigant disposal capability (to convert waste gases to CO2 and water). In 1984 he left the Provincial Archives.

An update on the fumigation/freeze-drying chamber appeared in the March 1988 IIC-CG Newsletter. The staff had assisted in drying some frozen records from a disaster:

"These records were ... later dried in the almost operational vacuum freeze drier. Although functional, the vacuum freeze dry mode still has quirks which the designers and staff are working on.... The fumigation mode is mow adapted for use with other (non-toxic) gases since the Archives does not intend to have an EtO-based fumigation program."

Standards In The Works

ARLIS/NA Endorses P/D Paper

At the membership meeting of the Art Libraries Society of North America in Dallas on February 8, 1988, the following notion was passed:

...that ARLIS/NA endorse the use of permanent/durable paper in art publications, including those by ARLIS/NA, that we applaud those publishers now using this paper, and that we encourage the others to actively pursue the use of permanent/durable paper in their publications.

Mellon Gives $1.5 M To Commission On P & A

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, known for its support of preservation efforts, has made a $1.5 million grant to the Commission on Preservation and Access in Washington, DC. The Commission, created in 1986 following studies sponsored by the Council on Library Resources, is working to foster a national, collaborative program to save the texts of millions of books that are turning to dust because of acidic paper. So far most of its efforts have gone into microfilming.

Most of this grant will be used for research and demonstration projects, mostly but not exclusively connected with microfilning, and including:

Since 1980, the Mellon Foundation has provided more than $5 million in grants directly related to preservation microfilming. MEN has provided more than $7 million, and other organizations have also supported microfilming. But this is just a beginning, because the job is so large. We still have 77,000,000 volumes to go.

NEDCC To Train Preservation Microfilmers

The Northeast Document Conservation Center has started a new training program on preservation microfilm, supported in part by funds from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. It involves a five-day internship at NEDCC, with formal classroom sessions, observation of the process from beginning to end, and hands-on experience. It includes information on selection and preparation of materials, format choices, quality control, archival standards, and contracts. It is not a program for training technicians or technical supervisors. For more information, contact Veronica Cunningham, NEDCC 24 School St., Andover, MA 01810 (617/470-1010).

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