The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 15, Number 3
May 1991


Johns Hopkins takes the plunge. The Eisenhower Library at Johns Hopkins university signed a contract with Akzo Chemicals, Inc., on May 8 for deacidification of its collections with diethyl zinc- (DEZ), starting June 1. Monthly shipments will be made for a year, a commitment totaling $40,000.

The library will send to the Akzo plant in Texas approximately 4,000 books the first year, which represents about 10 percent of its yearly acquisitions. The majority of these shipments will consist of foreign language books published in paperback in Second and Third World countries. These books are printed an highly acidic paper in limited printing runs and would, therefore, be the hardest to replace.

The Eisenhower Library has conducted three tests on approximately 600 books during the past year, as well as an some maps and other oversized documents. The tests have been conducted not only by Akzo, but also by other companies working with different deacidification processes.

Scott Bennett, director of the Eisenhower Library, estimates that each book will cost about $9.75 to deacidify plus another $1 for shipping. Even at this price, he says, deacidification is a more cost-effective preservation method than the standard photocopying or microfilming, which costs $70 or more per book. He believes the per-book cost will be reduced further when more libraries follow Hopkins' lead.

The library has hosted meetings with regional university officials to promote the wider adoption of deacidification processes. Bennett says that no one else has signed a contract with Akzo or any other ve0or, but other libraries are committed to a serious consideration of deacidification in the near future.

LC is moving right along. The Library of Congress has appointed a panel of experts to evaluate the proposals it received in March for a five-year contract to treat a million books per year. The panel includes library administrators, conservators and scientists. Peter Johnson of the Office of Technology Assessment is chairing the panel, which will submit its findings to the Library in June.

The Institute for Paper Science and Technology in Atlanta (formerly the Institute of Paper Chemistry in Appleton) was chosen competitively to test and evaluate treated sets of 500 books submitted by offerors to demonstrate their processes. After evaluation of test results, the best process or processes will be chosen to treat LC's collections.

High-level round table on planning next September. NEDCC recently received a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to sponsor a round table on mass deacidification, in with ARL. Invited participants from 10 research libraries will take part in a two-day planning meeting to discuss recent developments and key issue in starting mass deacidification programs in libraries. The program, coordinated by Peter Sparks, will be held on September 12-13, 1991, at NEDCC's headquarters in Andover, Massachusetts.

Participation will be limited to the library director, head of collection development, and preservation officer from each of the 10 libraries. The keynote speaker will be Richard De Gennaro, Roy E. Larsen Librarian of Harvard College. Other speakers will include individuals who are currently engaged in developing mass deacidification program, among them Jan Merrill-Oldham of the University of Connecticut, Carolyn Morrow of Harvard University, and Scott Bennett of Johns Hopkins University.

The proceedings will be published as a book, edited by Dr. Sparks. ARL will print and distribute the publication to libraries and others with an interest in mass deacidification program.

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