The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 15, Number 1
Feb 1991


Conferences & Professional Publications


"Preserving our Past for the Future: Subcommittee B06.24 Defines Technical Challenges of Preservation," by Stephen J. Kelley. ASTM Standardization News, Dec. 1990, p. 28-31. The author's subject is historical, not library, preservation, but the article is still remarkable because it describes a serious and systematic approach to the problem of preserving old buildings, especially their facades: cleaning, consolidating, repainting and repairing.

Urban pollution affects marble " limestone the same way it affected the test papers in the Palm and Flieder studies reported on P. 118 in the November issue: It reacts with the calcium carbonate in all these materials, forming gypsum (calcium sulphate) and other reaction products. Consolidants, the author says, may work in the short term but be bad news in the long term for the facades.

Acid-resistant calcium carbonate has been developed for the paper industry, but the technology may not be transferable to the historic preservation field.


"Microbial Control by Low Oxygen and Low Relative Humidity Environment," by Nieves Valentin, Mary Lidstrom and Frank Preusser. Studies in Conservation, Nov. 1990, p. 222-230. Describes a straightforward method of controlling mold growth on contaminated objects, without having to use toxic compounds or identify the microorganism involved. Biological activity was measured with radioactive tracers. Objects are stored for periods up to three weeks in hermetically sealed containers filled with nitrogen at an RH of 30-407., until activity ceases. They can then be stored in ambient air.


The Graduate Conservator in Employment: Expectations and Realities. Proceedings of the Interim Meeting of the Work Working Group on Training in Conservation and Restoration of the ICOM Committee for Conservation, Amsterdam and Leiden, 31 August - 1 September, 1989. Opleiding Restauratoren, Amsterdam, 1990. 151 pp. Available for $12.00 from Stanley Price, Getty Conservation Institute, 4503 Glencoe Ave., Marina del Rey, CA 90292-6537 (213/822-2299). (Checks should be made out to Mr. Price.)

The papers given at this meeting make a systematic attempt to evaluate the fit between the training of the conservator and the demands of the first few jobs taken by the new graduate. Four or five papers are presented from each point of view: the teacher's, the student's, and the employer's. This is a brave approach to an essentially ticklish subject, in which concepts are hard to pin down and in which feelings sometimes run high. It is not surprising that the papers are of uneven quality. Still, the topic interests more and more people nowadays, and publications on it are rare. Although book and paper conservation are rarely mentioned, the issues are often discussed in a way that is generally applicable to all kinds of conservation. (At the sane time, of course, a range of opinions is expressed.)

Nicholas Stanley Price's s chapter is very good, with comments on many of the issues involved, including the promotion of conservators to management positions, supply &demand for conservation graduates, programs organized around core syllabuses, changing the curriculum to meet changing needs, continuing education, and the case-study method.


"Protecting Libraries and Museums from Fire," by John Morris (3333 Nutmeg Lane, Walnut Creek, CA, 94598). A paper given at the 8th International Fire Protection Seminar, Karlsruhe, Sept. 25-28, 1990. (This seminar is given every four or six years.) This time the seminar focussed on "Protection of Cultural Heritage Against Fire!'--i.e., historical monuments, museums and palaces. English summaries of all the papers are available. For more information (possibility of a printed proceedings, addresses of other authors, program) contact Wolfram Becker, Im Kaestenbusch 15, D-6730 Neustadt 19, W. Germany.

Morris's paper, in 15 closely-typed pages, summarizes the history of fires in libraries and museums in recent decades and the role of fire suppression systems in damage control, with emphasis on sprinklers. Recent refinements in sprinkler hardware are described, such as plastic pipes and fittings, fast response heads, and stop-and-go sprinkler heads. The kinds of fire protection systems used by various libraries and museums are described.


"Account Book Making: Sequence of Operations," by E. Chapman. Morocco Bound, Nov. 1990, p. 38-52. Complete with numbered steps and numerous diagrams. This style of binding is sometimes called "spring-back binding." To the Editor's knowledge, this process has never been described in print before, because of its complexity and the scarcity of people who can do it.


R.L. Feller and M. Wilt. Evaluation of Cellulose Ethers for Conservation. (Research in Conservation, 3) 161 pp. - $20 from Getty Trust Publications, PO Box 2112, Santa Monica CA 90406 (213/453-5352).

This is more than the report of a three-year research program; as Frank Preusser says in the Foreword, it is the most comprehensive presentation of the properties of cellulose ethers as they relate to conservation. It is clearly written and edited, attractively laid out, and organized into chapters headed

Stability was inferred from the discoloration and loss of molecular weight resulting from thermal and photochemical aging. Although significant variability in each kind of cellulose ether was found, because of variation in materials and methods of manufacture, the authors concluded that three had excellent long-term stability:

Those considered unsuitable for long-term applications are:

ethylcellulose (EC)
ethylhydroxyethylcellulose (OS-EHOC)
(Both of these are soluble in organic solvents.)
hydroxyethylcellulose (HEC) hydroxypropylcellulose (HPC)

HPC is here demoted from "intermediate" to "unstable" on the basis of new findings on its thermal stability: it is expected to discolor and lose DP (degree of polymerization) in only 20 years under normal conditions. This is bad news for conservators who have considered it the ideal consolidant for paper and leather. It is possible, though, that more research may discover more stable forms of HPC, one day.

Unfortunately, this excellent publication is not suitable for long-term storage or for heavy use: it is printed on fairly stiff acidic paper, with the grain of the paper perpendicular to the spine. The adhesive binding will probably work loose in use, even if the adhesive itself is stable. This is a pity, because the text is important and will retain its value for many decades.


"William Rittenhouse, First Papermaker in America," by Henk Voorn. IPH information,1990, No. 3, p. 110-122. Reports original historical research on this pioneer and his associates.


Du papier pour 1'etemite: L'avenir du papier permanent en France, by Bernard Pras and Luc Marmonier. Editions du Cercle de la Librairie; 35, rue Gregoire-de-Tours; 75006 Paris; France. ISBN 2-7654-0437-2. 80 FF.

This publication is the report of a study commissioned by the Centre national des lettres, of the Cercle de la librairie, for the purpose of ascertaining the potential use and economic viability of permanent paper, and to identify the best ways of encouraging its use for publication. The authors see high pulp prices as a major obstacle to manufacture of permanent paper, apparently being unaware how this has worked in the U.S. to encourage the switch to alkaline papermaking. They do recognize the important role that authors can play in persuading publishers to use permanent paper. Although their knowledge of the subject, and of current trends, is spotty, certain parts of the book present valuable information not available elsewhere. In Table 11, for instance, Existing national standards and ongoing standards work are summarized for each of the eight nations that send representatives to the ISO committee working on an international standard; it also presents the national positions taken on salient issues.


Robert DeCandido devotes two installments of his CAN column, "Out of the Question," to the problem of packing books for shipment to other libraries on interlibrary loan (in No. 43, October 1990, and No. 44, January 1991). This is not a trivial problem, in light of the explosion of ILL services. OCLC alone, he says, processed 4.2 million requests in 1989, up a half a million from the year before. He reviews types of packaging used in the past and present, and evaluates them by preservation criteria as well as cost, convenience and other relevant criteria.


Everyone who had a film/video collection should have a copy of the minutes (or draft minutes) of the Film and Television Archives Advisory Committee (now AMIA--see news story) from their Oct. 31-Nov. 4, 1989 meeting in Miami. They are more like proceedings, because they are 23 pages long and contain no record of a business meeting, no votes, on dues solicitations (because they have no formal organization). Instead, there are reports of activities of related groups, descriptions of five Hispanic collections from the first general session, generous summaries of papers given in the other sessions, working group reports, even descriptions of a tour and a workshop. The sessions were on in-house quality control; cleaning, rejuvenation and redimensioning; new technologies for film and video; and the future of F/TAAC. For a copy, write Gregory Lukow, National center for Film and Video Preservation, American Film Institute,2021 North Western Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90027 (213/856-7637).


"Celluloid Film Hazards in Conservation," by Angela Babin. Art Hazards News, 13/8 1990, p. [3]. A handy s of the vital facts on nitrate film: flammability, health risks, storage and disposal, construction requirements, and fire protection. (This applies only to movie film. Still-camera negatives, the author says, have not been known to self-combust.)


"Safe Plastics for Storage and Display," by Mary Baker. Washington Conservation Guild Newsletter, Nov. 1990, p. [451. This is a long summary of Dr. Baker's November 7 talk at the November 7 meeting, entitled "Negative about Additives: What makes a Good Polymer go Bad?"


The WAAC Newsletter for January 1991 contains long summaries of the papers given at the 1990 annual meeting, among them the following:

Photo Conservation Tips (from Marc Harnly, Theresa
Andrews, Jill Sterrett and Janice Schopfer)
Formaldehyde: Detection and Mitigation - Cecily M.G. Druzik
A discussion panel on problems in the care and treatment of oversized works of art on paper

One of the papers, Dale Kronkright's "Insect Traps in Conservation Surveys," is not summarized but printed in full on P. 21-23. This is complemented by Nancy Odegaard's "Insect Monitoring in Museums," P. 19-20.


"Draft Technical Plan for NISO." Information Standards Quarterly Oct. 1990, p. 16-23. Preservation of library and archival materials is one of six study areas targeted in the strategic plan for the National Information Standards Organization. There is a need to coordinate better with other standards developers, focussing on five "families of preservation standards": archival storage, original media quality and preservation, bookbinding, physical treatment and condition of library and archival materials, and reformatting.

Bibliographies & Other Lists

The WAAC Resource File has been revised and updated for the first time since 1982, and is now available for sale. It consists of 240 3x5 cards, listing over 400 suppliers of materials used by conservators and archivists, and classified under 63 subject headings. (It is no accident that the WAAC Newsletter has the best supplies/equipment department ["Technical Exchange," Walter Henry, Column Editor] of all the conservation newsletters.) Some of the headings are:

Adhesives & consolidants
Books - Conservation Chemicals & solvents
Insect control & supplies
Packing & shipping materials
Paper conservation supplies & equipment

Supplementary cards are sent out with the newsletter at intervals to update the file. Postpaid cost for first-time purchasers: $27 members, $32 nonmembers, payable to WAAC. Send check with order to Carol Verheyen, WAAC Secretary/ Treasurer, 6924 Teesdale Ave., North Hollywood, CA 91605.


"Preservation and Reproduction of Recordings," a nine-item bibliography on P. 335 of the Fall 1990 ARSC Journal, covers playback of 78s, CDs, Edison recordings and microgroove recordings, among other topics. The ARSC Journal is the publication of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections and is issued semiannually. Membership is $20/year. Contact Philip Rochlin, Executive Director, PO Box 10162, Silver Spring, MD 20914. ARSC has one committee that is active and effective in preservation, the Associated Audio Archives Committee, which probably supplied this bibliography.


"Liste van Herstellern alterungsbeständiger Papiere!' ("List of Manufacturers of Permanent Paper"). 2nd ed. Komission des DBI für Bestandserhaltung, 1990. ISBN 3-87068-391-0. Available from Deutsches Bibliotheksinstitut, Bundesallee 184/185, 1000 Berlin 31. A booklet of 14 pages, printed on permanent paper. The Foreword makes a case for the use of paper meeting the ANSI standards (except for the strength specifications, which the authors must not realize the importance of) by publishers, and refers to the Frankfurt Resolution, which was endorsed in February 1990 at a meeting of the German National Library and the Society for the Book.

The resolution itself is on p. 6-7. The list of paper companies, with the kinds of paper produced by each company, is on P. 9-13, followed by the names and addresses of two knowledgeable distributors, then the permanence specs endorsed by the group: pH 7.5-9.5 by cold extract, minimum 3%-calcium or magnesium carbonate, no groundwood pulp, 100% bleached wood pulp or rags.


Competitive Grade Finder, 1990/91. This unique reference book lists fine papers produced in the U.S. by type and name, and indicates which are alkaline. $30 from Grade Finders, Inc., 662 Exton Commons, Exton, PA 10341 (215/ 524-7070). (It also gives much more information, e.g., distributor, brightness, bulk, opacity, whether available in cut sizes and so on.)

Standards & Practical Guides


D. L. Thomas. Study on Control of Security and Storage of Holdings: A RAMP Study with Guidelines. (PGI-86/WS/23)

Paris: Unesco, 1987. Available without charge from Division of the General Information Program, Documentation Centre, UNESCO, 7, Place de Fontenoy, 75700 Paris, France. 47 pp.

A more descriptive title for this would have been Preservation of Archives in Underdeveloped Countries. It is one of the better guides in this series, citing up-to-date documents and experts, and recommending currently accepted practices appropriate for underdeveloped countries. There are some minor omissions, such as the length of than the infested document has to remain in the freezer for insects to be completely exterminated, but there is a bibliography in which the reader can find more complete information.

The recommendation of a minimum RH of 45%, though, is not realistic. The author thinks that parchment, leather and adhesives develop cracks and grow stiff because of lack of moisture, when it is just the other way around. They crack and stiffen because they have aged, and their aging has been accelerated by moisture., This is a case where principles evolved from everyday experience are not reconcilable with principles evolved from direct research.


The Ohio Preservation Council has published a 16-page booklet for institutions and individuals with little or no micrographic experience: "Microfilming Source Book." It has eight sections, including:

Considerations in Selecting a Micrographics Service Bureau
Microfilm Guidelines
HELP! Where to go for Answers in Your Neighborhood
Preservation Microfilming: A Selected Bibliography
Glossary of Terms

It should prove useful to Ohio institutions that are considering whether or not to take the plunge. Copies can be sent without charge to anyone who requests it. Contact Miriam Kahn, 614/644-1972. The OK also has a well-designed flyer, stating the goals and objectives of the Council, and giving related information. Like the Source Book, it is printed on permanent paper.

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