The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 15, Number 2
Apr 1991


Will the Diplomas Last as Long as the Graduates Do?

The University of Connecticut recently asked the head of its preservation department, Jan Merrill-Oldham, to evaluate the permanence of diploma paper either currently used by UConn and other universities, or appropriate for that use. She performed spot tests for pH, alum and groundwood, and found that the diplomas used by the Jersey City State College and Clemson University were the most permanent by those criteria. Some of the others were judged to be extremely acidic, including the University of Connecticut's.

Mass Deacidification

Costs of Binding & Boxing Compared in Australia; Boxing Wins

According to an article in the Jan. 28 Canberra Times, the National Library of Australia was forced to take a close look at alternatives when they heard that the cost of library binding might almost triple. Since the heaviest use of serials had already occurred by the time they were sent for binding, they looked at economical means of storage for little-used item: shrink-wrapping (instead of the more expensive vacuum packaging, which is already used there), &id color-coded reusable polypropylene boxes, even for newspapers. A fellow named Kon Tsogas in the collection maintenance and document retrieval unit has been busy designing boxes for the different types of materials. A three-year supply of boxes has been ordered. (Copies of this newspaper article are available from the Newsletter office.)

CPA to Distribute News of Scientific Research

The Commission on Preservation and Access, which has already issued a directory of sources of research relevant to preservation and several summaries of research reports and developments, will widen its coverage by selecting, reviewing, and disseminating research reports potentially useful for preservation application. The effectiveness of this approach will be evaluated at the end of a one-year test period. Eight panel members from library and archives preservation have been chosen to review the research reports: Margaret Byrnes, Torn Clareson, Richard Frieder, Karen Garlick, Kenneth Harris, Howard Lowell, Jan Merrill-Oldham and Christine Ward.

Two research reviews, both by Peter Sparks, have already been circulated. They cover the Williams/Grosjean report (AN Nov. 1990, p. 130d) and a report of the British Library's-paper strengthening method.

Well-Trained Bookbinders Ready for Work May 31

The North Bennet Street School's two-year program in bookbinding, headed by Mark Esser, has won praise for the quality of training its students receive. The graduating class this year consists of four students, two of whom will be seeking employment at the end of the academic year, May 31, in small binderies, custom or production shops, and libraries. The school's Director of Student Services, Ginny Burnham, says that employers can register their employment needs with her at NBSS, 39 North Bennet Street, Boston, MA 02113 (617/227-0155). (The names of the students were not furnished.)

NTIS Fire Releases PCB's

The National Technical Information Service, source of many documents announced or reviewed in this Newsletter, had a fire on December 19 in its main building in Springfield, Virginia. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were released, probably from old-fashioned transformers or the ballasts on fluorescent light fixtures, at levels 1900 times higher than the maximum safe limit set by the EPA. According to the January Library Journal, no one died, but if the PCB level could not have been controlled, the building would have had to be destroyed. (No information is given about how the PCB level was controlled, or whether any of the publications housed in the building were contaminated.) After a second series of tests performed by Biospheric Labs for the EPA, the health hazard was seen to be negligible and staff were permitted to reenter to assess damages and enact cleanup procedures.

Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary says PCBs are colorless, highly toxic liquids. Because of their persistence and ecological damage from water pollution their manufacture was discontinued in the U.S. in 1976.

Many buildings used to house library and archival collections still have PCBs in transformers and ballasts. It would make sense for the disaster plan in these buildings to include identification and replacement of the PCBs by a more benign chemical.

NEH Grants for Statewide Cooperative Efforts

The full range of activities supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities is given on p. 2 of the most recent issue of this Newsletter. The newest category of grants supports the development of long-range plans for cooperative statewide efforts. North Carolina, Massachusetts and Nebraska were the first to receive awards in this category.

Proposals may be submitted by an institution, consortium, or nonprofit organization on behalf of the state, but the project's plan of work must clearly reflect the full range of library and archival resources important for the state's history and culture. The anticipated outcome of such grants is an action agenda for preservation activities within the state. Guidelines for the preparation of grant proposals are available from the office of Preservation, and potential applicants are encouraged to discuss ideas with the NEH staff at 202/786-0570. Deadlines for proposals are June 1 and December 1. [From SOLINEWS, Winter 1991, p. 13.

Coop Programs Group Grows More Substanitial

Every Member, representatives of cooperative preservation programs in states, regional centers and national centers gather to discuss matters of mutual interest. A few years ago, the meeting consisted of little more than informal reports of the activities of each program; but at their December 6-7 meeting in Washington, DC, there was a formal program, with registration, panels, sessions, papers and a reception, just like a regular convention. There were 14 speakers the first day, and discussions on six topics on the second day.

Organizations represented included the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts (CCAHA), National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators (NAGARA), Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), National Institute for Conservation (NIC), National Preservation Program Off ice (NPPO) at the Library of Congress, OCLC and SOLINET. States represented included Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Virginia. Some of the topics of papers and discussions were

1) statewide preservation planning and development, 2) achieving legislative support and action, 3) improving the effectiveness of information dissemination, 4) meeting the need for basic repair workshops, 5) whether financial self-sufficiency was a realistic goal, and 6) cooperation among cooperative programs.

Almost all the states are in the early stages of starting or building their programs, and all of them would like to offer more services than they are now able to offer.

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