The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 13, Number 2
May 1989


Hot News About Equipment

There is a great pile of material for the Supplies and Services column next time. These notices, however, won't wait:

ASTM Seeks Artists' Comments

A new standard f or artists' papers is being formulated by a group in the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)

Participants from the artist community are needed by D06.20 on Permanent Records Papers, a subcommittee of ASTM Committee D-6 on Paper and Paper Products.

The subcommittee needs as many comments as possible from this specific group, according to its news release. It is likely that many conservators would also be able to give useful comments. Some areas covered by this proposed specification, the Standard Specification For Performance of Artist Papers, include: artist papers falling into the general classifications of drawing, sketch, layout, tracing, marker, watercolor, calligraphy, pastel, charcoal, bristol, and ledger; three pH levels, reflecting three levels of permanence; and an accelerated aging test used to evaluate the stability of coated papers.

The purpose of this proposed standard is to address the market confusion created by certain terms such as acid free paper, NpH, neutral pH, alkaline paper, rosin-alum sized paper and others. It nay involve hazardous materials, operations, and equipment.

For more information contact Dennis Jacobson, Hammermill Papers, P0 Box 10050, Erie, PA 16533, 814/456-8811; or Jayme Hyde, ASTM, 1916 Race St., Philadelphia, PA 19103-1187, 215/299-5518.

Laws And Resolutions

Senator Pell's 1988 resolution has been reintroduced in the Senate, in slightly revised and improved form, as S.J. Res. 57. It calls for the use of "acid free permanent papers" or "archival quality acid free papers' by the U.S. government and by publishers.

Am identical resolution has been introduced in the House by Pat Williams of Montana: House Joint Resolution 226. It still needs cosponsors.

In Maine, in January, a bill was passed for the conservation and preservation of historically significant Maine State Library research material. It permits grants for the full range of preservation and conservation activities.

The Connecticut Preservation Task Force, created in 1987 to identify major preservation issues in the state and make recommendations for action, submitted its report on the feasibility of printing all state publications and official records on alkaline paper early this year. It has a schedule for gradual implementation over the next three years, and looks very feasible. For more information contact Jan Merrill-Oldham or the Connecticut State Library.

A bill on recycled paper was passed by the Indiana Senate in January, with an amendment that requires the oversight committee to "require use of archival quality paper for records that the commission determines should be pre

served indefinitely." This is Senate Bill No. 415. No details are spelled out. The amendment was the topic of a small news item in Paper Sales, a trade journal for paper distributor sales people.

NCLIS, the U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, has passed a resolution on permanent paper similar to, but not identical with, those passed by ALA SAA and other organizations. It says that the federal government consumes 2.5% of the nation's printing and writing paper, and urges it to convert to the use of alkaline paper; and it resolves "that the U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science strongly urge the President and Congress promptly to establish a national policy on the use of permanent paper, including, among its objectives, the use of such paper in all future federal government publications and documents of lasting significance." NCLIS was originally formed to advise the President and Congress on the needs of American libraries and information services. For a copy, write NCLLS, 1111 18th St., NW, Suite 310, Washington, DC 20036 (202/254-3100).

Three Papers Found To Meet New Government Standard

The Government Printing Office has tested 13 papers said by their manufacturers to meet the ANSI standard for permanence. It is not known how many met the specs in that standard, but only three passed the more stringent specs of JCP A270, the new government standard for paper permanence:

30# Nyalite Super Finish (Ecusta)
40# Accent Opaque Smooth (Hammermill)
5O# & 70# Cougar Opaque Vellum Finish (Weyerhaeuser)

The reason so few passed muster was that most of the rest could not meet the strength measures (tear and fold), which are optional in the ANSI standard.

National Archives Tests Optical Disk System

The Archivist of the United States recently announced the completion of the first phase of testing of an Optical Digital Image Storage System, known as ODISS The system was developed by the National Archives under contract with Unisys Corp. of Camarillo, California.

The purpose of the multi-year project is to explore the latest advances in electronic imaging technology and their applicability to storage and retrieval of historical records. The system is being tested on more than one million military service records from the Confederate Army of Tennessee, Pension and Bounty Land records, and selected items from other 19th and 20th century holdings in the National Archives. The testing will evaluate image enhancement, document conversion from paper and microform to optical disks, efficiency of reference and retrieval, and preservation benefits resulting from reduced handling of original documents. The recently completed first phase of evaluation included a number of performance tests designed to ensure the feasibility of the system.


The IPH (International Association of Paper Historians) is working to standardize internationally the methods of recording watermarks. Already several countries (including Portugal--see Gazette du Livre Medievale #13, Autumn 1988) are devising their own standardized methods and archives.

It is important that the electronic data processing methods be compatible. A subcommittee has been formed to study the problem, and delegates named for a possible international conference on watermark recording.

Film Preservation Board Formed

The National Film Preservation Act of 1988 provided for a 13-member National Film Preservation Board, which has just been formed. Its job will be to preserve not by treating or even copying films, but (even more basically) by choosing films worthy of preservation, so that the Library of Congress can try to get am archival copy that has been not spoiled by colorizing or anything else. It will select up to 25 films a year, which will be included in the National Film Registry at LC.

SAA is active in national preservation issues

At its annual meeting in September, the Society of American Archivists passed two resolutions put forward by its Conservation Section, one on permanent paper and one on preservation knowledge needed for certification of archivists. Here are excerpts from each resolution. Full copies are available from the SAA office, 600 5. Federal, Suite 504, Chicago, IL 60605 (312/922-0140).

From the resolution on permanent paper: "Resolved, that the Society of American Archivists Council (or such committee as it may designate) is instructed to develop strategies to encourage the use of permanent paper by all government agencies and other records-creating organizations for the production of such records [of enduring value]

From the resolution on certification: "Resolved, that the Society of American Archivists' Interim Board for Certification (IBC) should require that all applicants for certification by examination, be able to demonstrate knowledge of preservation principles and strategies; and be it further Resolved, that the IBC include one or more individuals with strong expertise in preservation principles and strategies on the advisory panel now charged to begin with process of examination development, and that continuing advice be formally solicited from one or more recognized leaders in archival preservation, as well as from other areas of archival practice, throughout the development of the certification criteria and mechanisms...

Donn C. Neal, Executive Director of SAA, later sent a letter to one of the commissioners of the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, responding to NCLIS's invitation to comment on Senator Pell's proposed legislation on permanent paper. He endorsed the idea, and went further, saying:

The National Archives and Records Administration is the most appropriate federal organization to ascertain which records have enduring value and which government publications should be printed on permanent paper. Criteria already exist for such purposes, and any national policy should reaffirm the important contributions of the archival appraisal process in assuring that adequate documentation of federal government activities is preserved.

In addition, the Conservation Section had the session on selection for preservation that was briefly reported in the last issue of this Newsletter. A fuller report has since been received, and will be printed if there is room in this or another issue.

Furthermore, SAA has published in the January 1989 SAA Newsletter a classified list of what a fully qualified archivist ought to know. It is called a "role delineation." One of the seven main fields of knowledge or "domains" is called "Preservation and Protection of Documents," and it counts for 17% of the total.

This document, the role delineation, is strongly reminiscent of the City and Guilds Syllabus, reviewed on p. 120 of the December 1985 issue of this Newsletter. Both documents are very useful in fields where people are educated on the job or in very decentralized training situations, or over a long period of time. They are sort of checklists, to keep track of what you've learned already and what you still have to work on. They are also previews of certification exams that people can take when they feel they are ready.

The chair of the Conservation Section for 1988-89 is Lisa Fox. Other officers are: Judith Fortson, Charlotte Brown, Richard Strassberg, Christine Ward, Brenda Banks, Ann Russell, and Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler. Valerie Metzler is the newsletter editor and Karen Garlick is the AIC Liaison to SAA.


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