The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 15, Number 4
Jul 1991

What the 13 CIC Libraries are Doing to Get Mass Deacidification Under Way

Since its formation in 1989, the CIC Task Force on Mass Deacidification has endeavored to identify and implement practical steps toward positioning CIC Libraries to take action on mass deacidification. (The CIC, Committee for Institutional Cooperation, is the academic consortium of the major Midwestern research universities.)

The Task Force had two broad areas of concern in suing mass deacidification- chemical and organizational. Before the CIC Libraries can proceed with mass deacidification, satisfactory progress must be made in investigating both these areas. Because critically important chemical issues such as toxicology, treatment effectiveness, and treatment side effects are being pursued by the Library of Congress and the Canadian Conservation Institute, the CIC has focussed primarily on organizational issues related to selection strategies, logistics, and workflow and staffing issues within the library.

In October 1990, the CIC Libraries, with support from the Council on Library Resources, embarked on a one-year project to explore the organizational issues raised by mass deacidification. Sue Nutty, of Northwestern University, is coordinating that project on a half-time basis. All 13 libraries will participate.

All known mass deacidification vendors were invited to conduct the test runs. Akzo and FMC have chosen to participate, and are provide their services on a pro bono basis. A total of approximately 1,700 items will be deacidified in the test runs.

A series of test runs is being conducted to simulate and measure organizational and logistical steps. The first test run involved unwanted gift material from Northwestern.

This exercise provided valuable initial experience in actually going through the primary steps involved in a mass deacidification program. The second test run which, based on the success of the first test, employs material from Northwestern's permanent library collection, is currently in progress. This test has been planned to provide a are in-depth look at organizational implications and will result in each participating library experiencing first-hand the organizational issues of mass deacidification, including selection of materials, in-house staffing and procedural issues, quality control work, and marking or recording treatment. Representatives of each library met at Northwestern on May 23 to discuss the test runs and other issues related to mass deacidification.

Through these activities, the CIC Libraries are positioning themselves to begin mass deacidification an a small scale as soon as it can be done responsibly. Before the end of the year, the CIC Task Force on Mass Deacidification plans to issue a document reporting on its activities and recommendations for the CIC Libraries. While much of the document will be specific to the CIC Libraries, it may be useful to other institutions planning mass deacidification programs and will therefore be made available outside of the CIC.

For further information, contact Sue Nutty (CIC Mass Deacidification Coordinator) at 708/467-1379, or Richard Frieder (Chair, CIC Task Force University Library) at 708/491-7599 (email:

 [Contents]  [Search]  [Abbey]

[Search all CoOL documents]