The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 14, Number 3
Jun 1990


Conservation Forum At Columbia University

Conservation Form, a series of seminars, lectures and audiovisual presentations held weekly each semester, has become an established feature of Columbia University's graduate and postgraduate training programs. It provides a venue for students and faculty, as well as interested persons from outside the school, to become acquainted with the viewpoints and activities of leading professionals from the many diverse disciplines concerned with library and archive conservation and related matters. Presentations are scheduled on Thursdays between 4:10 and 6 pm in Room 506, School of Library Service, Butler Library, Broadway at 116th St. All are welcome. For further information contact Liz von Evans, 212/854-4178 or Allert Brown Gort, 212/854-4754. The next Form will be in September.

Preservation Activity In The Archives Field

Not only have archives conferences recently been full of preservation matters, but the Commission on Preservation and Access had 1 1/2 pages' worth of news about archives in its May 1990 newsletter: the SAA Task Force on Preservation, and COSLA's increasing involvement, the summer 1990 issue of the American Archivist, and filming of 25 archival collections by the Research Libraries Group with NEH funds.

The SAA Task Force met in January and started work on a three-year plan for action in seven areas of archival preservation, including education, management, selection for preservation, and use of standards. Members are Christine Ward, Howard Lowell, Anne R. Kenney, Paul McCarthy, Lisa Fox, Paul Conway, and Karen Garlick.

NAGARA (National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators) is the organization responsible for the self-study plan described on the first page of the February issue. Like COSLA (the Council of State Governments) it is an adjunct member of the Council of State Movements, and just started getting the CPA Newsletter because its members are "deeply involved on a daily basis with preservation issues at the state level."

In Virginia, Photostats Are Scanned, Conservation Fee Set

Microfilming photostats is difficult, time-consuming, not always successful. The Virginia State Library and Archives has been working for five years to develop an optical/digital image capturing system, which mw appears successful. The optical imaging system was Beta tested by capturing original photostatic deed, will, and marriage records. The system is currently being used to capture photostats through raster scanning. After enhancement/ restoration of the scanning images, they are being stored an 5-1/4" optical disks. The photostats are being converted immediately in order to prevent further deterioration. Once digitally captured, the information can be transferred to various other media such as paper, film, tape, or other optical disks.

A conservation fee of one dollar has been authorized for recording local deeds; it will go toward arranging, describing, and microfilming circuit court records on deposit in the Archives and for grants to circuit court clerks to address preservation needs in the courthouses.

Special Postcard Honors Rittenhouse Mill

U.S. Postmaster General Anthony M. Frank and the American Paper Institute recently unveiled a new 15o postcard rating the 300th anniversary of the U.S. paper industry. The mill is shown in the upper right corner, and an inscription on the left side of the card says, "American Papermaking, 1690-1990. Rittenhouse paper mill circa 1770." The original watermark is shown below that, and the text continues: "This watermark appears on the first paper made in the United States on this site in 1690." The card will not be reprinted when supplies run out, as they have already begun to do.

Bookmakers Is Under New Management

Cindy Mowery bought BookMakers, the bindery supply house in Washington, DC, on April 2. Address and phone will remain the sane until June or July, when everything will be moved to the Pyramid Atlantic building in Maryland. A new catalog is being prepared to be available by the time of the AIC meeting.

Hands Across The Sea

Members of both SOBBR Western Region (UK) and the New England Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers are looking forward to their next chance to get together. This time it is the Americans' turn to visit England. Any GBW member interested in joining the Chapter for the visit may call Daniel Kelm (413/527-7275) or Mary Wooton (508/470-1010). They plan to visit, according to the GBW Newsletter for April, "all over southwestern England--Bath, Bristol, Devonshire, Dartmoor, Wells, Oxford, and Wales - manor houses, libraries, binderies, cream teas, the Bodleian and Gregynog Press--and more." The trip will be June 6-14.

"SOBBR" stands for "Society of Bookbinders and Book Restorers." The Western Region local group is the one involved with the GBW.

Canadian Archives Establishes Conservation Research Division

The National Archives of Canada in Ottawa has established a Conservation Research division. Under the direction of Dr. Klaus B. Hendriks, staff members will study the Permanence and preservation of paper and photographic materials, and examine the suitability of magnetic recordings for the long-term preservation of information having permanent value.

Petherbridge Resigns: Library School May Close

Guy Petherbridge, director of the Columbia University School of Library Service's conservation program, submitted his resignation in response to a report by Provost Jonathan Cole in mid-April, which suggested closing the school as a solution to the university library's space problem and which also implied that SLS faculty research was not up to University standards. (There is reason to believe that Cole did not know much of the research done by the faculty, since he had not asked.) The Library Journal devotes over a page in the May 15 issue to the details of this complex picture. The decision to keep the school or to close it down will probably be made at a meeting an June 7. Whichever way it goes, all students mw enrolled will be given the opportunity to graduate, and students now being accepted for both conservation and preservation program can be assured that they will be able to complete their studies.

Mr. Petherbridge left the United States during the week of May 21, and Carolyn Harris has been appointed acting director. Dr. Nicholas Pickwoad has been appointed as a visiting professor to teach conservation lab courses for 1990-91.

Sponsors Visit "Adopted: Books At British Library

The National Preservation Office hosted a reception in October in honor of the British Library's Adopt-a-Book sponsors. The reception enabled the sponsors to see the finished results of the conservation and repair work on their "adopted" books. Over £86,500 has been raised since the program was launched in 1987.

State Preservation Plan Is Shaping Up In Texas

The third of a series of Preservation Forums was held in the first week of April, and several more are to come. The Preservation Task Force is winding down its work, and all six subcommittees reports are in. A sample of 400 (out of 1500) libraries and archives have been surveyed by mail in a needs assessment questionnaire. An action plan was under preparation in April, for implementation by the state librarian.

Price Gouging On Alkaline Paper Is Documented

The tem "price gouging" was not used, but this is what it looks like in the March 1990 report of the Paper Standards Committee of the Florida Bureau of Archives and Records Management: "In checking paper prices through the local vendors, this committee found a discrepancy in the pricing of acidic versus alkaline paper. Some local suppliers were quoting prices, again, double for alkaline paper as opposed to acidic paper. On the other hand, some local suppliers were quoting comparable prices for each." Buyer beware.

Permanent Papers

Papers said by their manufacturers to meet one or more standards for permanence are listed below. A survey to gather information more systematically is planned for the future.

Permalife - Howard
Clarion Book Offset and Pennbook - Penntech
Cougar Opaque - Weyerhaeuser
Hammermill Accent Opaque - Hammermill
Nyalite Super Finish - Ecusta
Legend - James River
All Mohawk Cover and Text except three Irish Linen colors and two Artemis colors
Most Miami papers


The December issue of the AICCM National Newsletter brings more bad news about the impermanence of facsimile copies:

Vicki Gillespie of the Queensland State Archives discovered after a recent building fumigation that facsimiles are reactive to fumigants. While an exposed fax was still legible, the background had turned "literally blank." Unfortunately, the new contractor refuses to divulge what his secret fumigant formula is, but claim that it is very close to the specified fumigant, Insectigas.

State Purchasing Agents Work On Recycled Paper Standards

The National Association of State Purchasing Officials (NASPO) is working on a project to develop nationwide standards for recycled paper specifications. The proposal calls for NASPO to work with other state officials interested in the development of recycled paper specifications, including someone from the archival/records management community. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has agreed to provide guidance. The EPA has provided $5000 for the initial project survey, and each state will be asked to provide $2,500 (standards-writing is expensive). Howard Lowell serves as NAGARA's representative on this project. One meeting was held recently. It was described as "a Tower of Babel" by two paper industry representatives who attended; but the purchasing agents are highly motivated to reach consensus, and will learn to speak the sane language. They want standards because they have 50 different sets of specs for recycled paper, and the paper industry is not able to produce 50 different versions of each recycled paper. A meting is set for July, and another for September.

Chemistry For Conservators, By Correspondence Course

Fifteen participants took a correspondence course in chemistry for conservators at the introductory level this spring, conducted by C.V. Horie (Manchester Museum) and Dr. D. Kenyon (Adult Education Lecturer). Reportedly, one or more Americans took it. No announcement was received at the Newsletter office that had an address to which people write to apply. The application deadline had been Jan. 25.

Angels Prepare To Gather

It has become a regular thing now for conservators to donate their tire as a group to some cultural institution at the site of the AIC annual meeting. This year they will spend the day at the Virginia Historical Society working on general objects storage, textiles, oversized books, historic photographic materials, painting, backing boards, and 6,000 tiny objects which need rehousing from file cabinet folders. The VHS will feed them and put them up. There is no room for more volunteers because of the scarcity of housing, but 39 people are signed up. Lisa Mibach is coordinating it.

Grants And Donations

Control Of Fire In Compact Shelving

The National Archives recently had Underwriters' Laboratories do some fire tests on the compact mobile shelving planned for its new facility in College Park, Maryland ("Archives II"). Findings: Even when the units are closed, there should be several inches of space between them so the fire can break out sooner and be put out sooner, rather than smolder and spread; "quick-response" sprinklers, which will respond at lower temperatures (165°F) are needed; smoke detectors are needed because they will respond sooner than other types of detectors; and sprinklers can control a fire in compact shelving, probably containing it in a single storage area.

Latin America & North America

Pablo Diaz
2670 Eastwood St.
Chicago, IL 60625
José Orraca
32 East 68th St. #6
New York, NY 10021
Alvaro Gonzalez
7515 Maple Ave.
Tacoma Park, MD 20912
Amparo de Torres
1009 Bobolink Dr.
Columbia, MO 65201

A Fund For Conservation Of British Manuscript

Richard Luce, British Arts Minister, spoke at the official launch, of the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust a few months ago, emphasizing the importance of archives and their need for conservation. The government will provide matching funds up to �300,000 over the next three years. Mr. Luce said a nationwide survey in 1985 by the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts had shown that 20% of repositories' holdings were inadequately listed, 5% too fragile to handle, a much larger proportion was in need of lesser conservation and little use was being made of microfilm copies.

Museum Scientists Decide Not To Have A Journal

British museum scientists met in one of their regular meetings at the Conservation Science Section of the British Museum in November, to tour the lab, examine panels on recent projects, and hear reports on research in progress. Members were glad to hear that BM's annual list of abstracts of internal research reports will be circulated to the museum scientists' group, and the complete reports be made available to them in the lab library. The publication also includes a listing of papers published by staff over the year. They discussed the idea of a conservation science journal to make dissemination of research results more widely available to other museum scientists, but were afraid it would make the information less available to conservators, or might even discourage them from contributing to research within the field.

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