The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 13, Number 3
Jun 1989


Mass Deacidification

The first shipment of hooks from an American library to a commercial deacidification facility was made in April when the Cleveland Public Library sent 52,091 books from its Foreign Literature Department to Book Preservation Associates, by way of Information Conservation, Inc. (ICI), a library binding firm that makes the service available. This is the process that uses ammonia and ethylene oxide in a chamber to leave ethanolamines as a deacidifying agent and the equivalent of an alkaline reserve, according to the description of it in the January/February Library Technology Reports. American Libraries for May 1989 (p. 389) has a news story on this history-making shipment and related matters.

Karen Turko, Head of Preservation Services at the University of Toronto Library, is working with Jutta Reed-Scott of the Association of Research Libraries on a review of currently available mass deacidification methods, based on a recent feasibility study for a mass deacidification facility for libraries in Toronto. It will include costs, criteria for evaluating alternative processes, and potential safety or toxicity problems. ARL will publish the report in the fall of 1989.

The Library of Congress will issue its REP (request for proposals) in June. Then each company interested in deacidifying LC's books will submit bids, after studying the criteria in the REP, which by the way may be useful even to people who are not bidding on the job. Quite a few bids are expected.

English Binders Visit American Binders

At press time, a group of 8 members of the Society of Bookbinders and Book Restorers (SOBBR), Western Region, was expected in the Boston area May 18-26, for a visit with the New England Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers. Peter Geraty was coordinating it, and will see that the visit is written up for the GBW Newsletter. The group includes Brian Edwards, two women binders, a woman student from Brunel, and four retirees who bind as a hobby. Next spring a group of Americans may pay a return visit.

Nonbook Formats: The Allerton Institute Of Nov. 1988

This conference was the thirtieth in the series organized by the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It was attended by over 90 from outside the school and by 40 students and faculty from the school. Students in the preservation class taught by Kathryn and William Henderson prepared summaries of each talk, and a set was kindly forwarded to the Newsletter office.

The speakers surveyed the state of the art of preservation of ten major types of materials: sound recordings, computer records, moving images, newspapers, black-and-white photographs, color film and photographs, art on paper, textile collections, archives, and cartographic materials.

The proceedings will be published. They were being offered for a prepublication price of $20, so the price will probably be moderate. For information, write Graduate School of Library and Information Science, 410 David Kinley Hall, 1407 W. Gregory Drive, Urbana, IL 61801. The proceedings will probably be entitled "Conserving and Preserving Materials in Nonbook Formats: Thirtieth Allerton Institute, November 6-9, 1988," which is the full name of the conference.

33 Institutions To Do Preservation Planning Programs

Longevity Of CD's And Optical Discs

Problems reported for compact discs were reported briefly on p. 8 of the February issue of this Newsletter. Now it appears that there is more to the story, and you can read it in Stereo Review for April 1989, on p. 23-24, in Rebecca Day's article, "Where's the Rot? A Special Report on CD Longevity." It all began with a story in the Manchester Guardian last summer that carried a quote from U.K. disc manufacturer Nimbus Records saying that certain CD's would begin to self-destruct within eight to ten years because inks used for labeling had "begun to eat into the protective lacquer" coating, oxidizing the reflective aluminum layer and making the CDs unplayable. Reader panic followed. Philips and Sony hastened to issue statements to the press, saying that no such problem had ever appeared in their products, although they regularly do aging tests on them. Nimbus issued a news release saying the story was an oversimplification, although they had had problems with ink oxidizing the aluminum layer in the past, with a process now outmoded.

Nevertheless, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab does make some of its discs with a gold layer, and has had them tested by Ultech, a Japanese pressing plant) to see if this really added to their life. It did. Quoting from the article,

Mobile Fidelity guarantees its aluminum CD's as well as its gold discs, and a Sony official told me that a properly manufactured aluminum disc will last "indefinitely." Other factors--such as the thickness of the substrate, the type of polycarbonate used, or the kind of labeling inks--may have contributed to the results of the Ultech tests. Also the quality control for the gold discs may have been much more stringent that for the aluminum discs. Finally, your discs are not likely to encounter the same extreme conditions as the Ultech test discs.

The picture is not black and white. Different experts in the industry have different estimates of how many discs are defective, and why, and just how long they can be expected to last. Nimbus mow guarantees its discs for 100 years, but all this means is that they will replace them or give you your money back if they wear out before then and if you are still around to collect. Discs do last longer if carefully stored and handled. They should be treated with the same care as fine LP' s, and protected from extreme temperatures and humidities.

Standards In The Works At NISO

There are two standards in the development stage:

SC R - Environmental Conditions for Storage of Paper-Based Library and Archival Materials
SC (3(3 - Hard Cover Case Bindings

and three in the development stage, which relate to preservation:

SC QQ - Physical Preparation of Theses and Dissertations in Printed Form for Long-Term Retention by Libraries and Archives
SC RR - Adhesives used to Affix Labels to Library Materials
SC SS - Information to be Included in Ads (etc.) for Products used for the Storage, Binding or Repair of Library Materials.

In addition, two are being revised: Z85.1-1980, Permanent and Durable Library Cards, and Z39.48-1984, Permanence of Paper. For more information, see Information Standards Quarterly 1(1), Jan. 1989; or call NISO, 301/975-2814.

OSHA Sets New Limit For Ethylene Oxide Exposure

OSHA has set a maximum exposure to ethylene oxide of 5 parts per million in air, averaged over a 15-minute period. The limit for an eight-hour work day had already been set (in 1984) at 1 ppm. Compliance is required by September 6, 1988. Details in Art Hazards News, v. 11 #4.

Since 1984, libraries and archives have discontinued use of ethylene oxide for fumigation of materials and either ceased fumigation entirely or switched to less dangerous fumigants or methods, because of the new stringent requirements for outgassing facilities, licensed operating personnel, monitoring devices and so on. None are known to be using it at present, although it can be very effective both for mold and for insects. It does affect the materials fumigated.

Color Microfilm Potential Explored

Lee Jones, President of the Mid-Atlantic Preservation Service (MAPS) and James Reilly, Director of the Image Permanence Institute, made a recent visit to the laboratories of Herrmann & Kraemer (H&K), a small color slide and microfiche duplicating company in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, West Germany. The purpose of their travel, sponsored by the Commission on Preservation and Access (CPA), was to investigate the camera technology developed by Herrmann and Kraemer for high-quality color microfilming for preservation purposes. The firm has developed cameras and processing technology now being used in filming projects at the Vatican and the Bildarchiv Foto Marburg.

The H&K cameras can routinely achieve 200 lines per millimeter in resolution, with a range to 240 or 250 not unusual, as compared to the 140 lines per millimeter capacity of the standard microfilm camera. The camera height can be adjusted to 1/4000 of a millimeter for focussing accuracy. A variety of appropriate parameters have been fed into microcomputers which then drive such functions as light exposure, film advance, and a combination of exposure time and lens opening. Transparencies made by H&K can be processed through a digitizing copier, such as the Canon product now on the market, and produce extraordinary color reproductions on paper.

In addition to their color technology, the company has greatly improved the process for producing a high-quality continuous tone black-and-white microfilm. Although their major business is duplication of color slides and transparencies, the small, established, family-owned business is very much interested in participating in the preservation effort. They have designed probably the most advanced book cradle in the world, according to Lee Jones, for use in filming older, tightly hound, rare hooks which can be opened only 90 degrees without harming the binding.

Negotiations are underway with H&K to establish a demonstration project at MAPS to investigate the potential of this technology for art history materials, maps, and other visual resources requiring accuracy, stability, and high resolution of the reproduction. [From the Commission on Preservation and Access Newsletter No. 9, Feb. 1989.1


In a recent issue of the AICCM Newsletter (Australia), Cheryl Jackson was said to have just completed a research project on the (im)permanence of fax papers. She works in the Australian Archives in ACT (like the District of Columbia). The U.S. National Archives has not done a study on this kind of papers yet. A quick and dirty study was done by the Editor at the Newsletter office: Fax paper turned almost black after about five hours at 200°F in an oven; it darkened somewhat (to a light peach color) after three weeks in the window with a southern exposure, and the image did not fade except where it was covered with Magic Mend tape. Under the tape, it did not blur, as inks often do, but simply faded to about half its former darkness. Unexposed images covered with the tape did not fade.

A survey by questionnaire is underway to learn about the state of research and development in preservation and conservation. It is organized by the leading international library organization (IFLA) and the leading international archival organization (ICA) Carolyn Harris at Columbia University has circulated the questionnaires in this country; and David Clements at the British Library is collecting the completed questionnaires. Results will be reported at an international conference on research next year.

Bookbinding News

News From The Labs And Institutions

 [Contents]  [Search]  [Abbey]

[Search all CoOL documents]