The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 15, Number 7
Nov 1991


European Conservators Form Super-Organization

Representatives of conservation organizations in England, Germany, France and Switzerland met June 7 in Zurich to found the European Confederation of Conservator-Restorers' Organizations (ECCO). Besides upholding the usual values and aims of conservation organizations, ECCO will "negotiate and liaise with supranational bodies throughout Europe and beyond." Full membership is open to any organization of professional conservator-restorers based in the EC or EFTA which supports the aims of ECCO, subject to the approval of the existing members. There are working groups on ethics, training, legal protection of the profession, and administration. IPC and IADA were among the ten organizations at the first meeting. A second meeting was planned for October 13 in Brussels.

NARA Tests Shrink-Wrapping of Bound Volumes

The Research and Testing Laboratory at the National Archives, under the direction of Susan Lee-Bechtold, is currently conducting a series of accelerated aging tests to determine the long-term effect of shrink-wrapping on the paper textblock of bound volumes. A variety of commercially available plastic films has been narrowed down to one, Dupont's Clysar EHC. This has proven to be the most stable plastic available with the fewest additives. Book covers salvaged from the rebinding of the Papers of the Continental Congress and a commercial paper are both being artificially aged at 70'C and 65% RH for periods of eight weeks. Both the samples and the controls are then tested for fold endurance, moisture content, brightness, pH, and viscosity. All tests use nationally accepted methods and are being conducted both before and after the accelerated aging is completed. Results will be available before the planned move to Archives II so that a determination can be made on whether or not to unwrap the volumes after the move. (From Preservation Notes, a quarterly newsletter issued by the NARA Document Conservation Branch for the regional and affiliated archives. Summer 1991.)

Australia has 27 Permanent Papers

Conservators, librarians and archivists have campaigned long and vigorously for permanent paper in Australia, finally with success. Associated Pulp & Paper Mills has forwarded to Murray Millar a list of Australian papers that meet the country's SAA Interim Standard of permanence, and Mr. Millar has faxed it to this office. The list includes three book papers, two offset papers, ten bonds, one check paper, one copy paper, two cartridge papers, and eight boards. There is no identifying logo on the label of any of these to show permanence, but this possibility has not been ruled out. Only one bond and the copy paper are manufactured expressly for archival use.

Test Results for Album Pages are Popular

The testing program of the Arthur Salm Foundation was described in the July issue of this newsletter, and the results summarized. The response from stamp collectors was described in June by Les Winick, who coordinates the program: "The reaction from the report is very interesting. We mailed out 2,600 so far, which is a fantastic response. We've received dozens of letters praising the report and its value for stamp collectors. Three album page distributors wrote that they are going to change suppliers to acid free. One distributor said that he was waiting for the report and will start by using only alkaline paper." By September, the number of reports distributed had risen to 4,500.

An October news release gives the following information: The International Federation of Philately (FIP) has requested 300 copies of the album page report to distribute at its 60th Congress in Tokyo in November 1991, and suggested that philatelic products manufactured in foreign countries be included in the testing program.

This is the only permanence testing program in this country for which the results are published and actively promoted.

RLG Task Force on Inaccessible Materials

A handsome report from the Research Libraries Group, entitled "RLG in Perspective: Focusing Collaboration in the 1990s," reviews past accomplishments and plans for the 1990s. Four planned task forces are described on the last page, including one on inaccessible materials:

Collections of unpublished and published materials that are virtually inaccessible for research can be found in all the nation's archives, manuscript repositories, and special collections libraries. The reasons for this inaccessibility include lack of specialized staff, processing backlogs, unsatisfactory earlier description, and significant conservation requirements. These factors make such collections extremely difficult for researchers to use--and in many cases use is not encouraged or even not allowed.

Retrospective conversion and preservation microfilming projects require that materials be adequately processed and described. Funding agencies, however, are generally reluctant to support such processing. A survey of RLG members has helped to identify the scope of this problem and provide a foundation for the development of technical, logistical, and budgetary strategies to address it.

The task force, a small group representing RLG member institutions, will outline those strategies and draft initial funding proposals covering a select group of the collections described in the survey. The work of the task force should be complete by early 1992.

AFI and NEA Sponsor Film Preservation Program

The American Film Institute and the National Endowment for the Arts have a joint program that awards grants to help organizations preserve, safeguard, and restore films of artistic or cultural value. It does not fund film purchase, the preservation of videotape, or the transfer of film to videotape. Applicants must be tax-exempt organizations with a good archival film collection, adequate staff and equipment to carry out the project. Grants will generally be for less than $25,000 and are made on a matching basis. Deadline: January 31, 1992. Applicants will be notified not before October 1992. Contact AFI/NEA Film Preservation Program, National Center for Film & Video Preservation at the American Film Institute, Kennedy Center, Washington, DC 20566 (202/828-4070).

Paramount Films to be Stored Underground

The decision was long overdue, but at last it has been made, primarily for economic reasons: Paramount is now giving at least some of its films at least partial restoration and storing them in a Pennsylvania limestone mine, alongside microfilms of all of the studio's scripts. Black and white material is stored at 50°F and 40% RH, and color material is stored at 40OF and 20% RH. Eventually about 2,500 black and white and 600 color titles are expected to be stored in the mine. Duplicates of everything will be kept in an above-ground facility on the Paramount lot.

California Fires Spare Libraries

Tom Conroy, who lives in Berkeley, reports that the recent destructive brush fires in the Bay Area did not affect any libraries, not even small branch public libraries. However, a retired local binder, Julius Penzes, was burned out. Capricornus was in the evacuation area, and the California College of Arts and Crafts would have been affected if the fire had continued for one more day.

The fire department took a lot of undeserved criticism, he says. Shake roofs are not banned in Oakland as they are in Berkeley, and they bum like tinder. The firemen were trained to fight city fires, not brush fires, and there were fewer firemen because of recent cutbacks.

Campbell Center Classes

The preliminary course announcement of the Campbell Center in Illinois shows nine courses that may interest book and paper conservators:

June: Care of Works of An on Paper/H. Stratis
Care of Photographic Collections
Library Materials Workshop: Introduction/S. Kellar Library Materials Workshop: Intermediate/S. Kellar
July: Disaster Mitigation Conference: Midwest Regional concerns
Disaster Mitigation Workshop/B. Roberts
Aug.: Environmental Monitoring & Control
Management and Planning
Buildings & Collections: In search of a Balance/S. Gottlieb

Most courses are 4-5 days long, except the first two August courses. Fees average $500-$600, which includes housing and two meals a day. Contact the Center at 203 East Seminary, Mount Carroll, IL 61053 (815/244-1173).

A Seminar and a Round Table for Curators & Facilities Managers

On October 18, William P. Lull gave a one-day seminar on conservation environments for conservation and preservation personnel in the Rocky Mountain region, under the sponsorship of the Utah Preservation Consortium. His presentation of information was well-organized, designed for maximum usefulness and impact, and interspersed with hilarious anecdotes, maxims and comments--but in the back of their minds, many participants were wondering how they were going to communicate all this to their buildings people when they got back home.

To fill this need, and to provide a second chance for the people who missed the first presentation (or a review for those who want it) there will be a similar program on February 6-7, oriented to the needs of facilities managers, at the LDS Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City. The first day will cover what they need to know about environmental needs of collections in museums and libraries, and the second day will be a round table for evaluation of actual conservation environment projects, plans for which have been submitted beforehand. For more information, contact Jim Raines, Conservator, LDS Museum of Church History and Art, 45 North West Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150 (801/240-2310), or Ellen McCrady, 320 E. Center, Provo, UT 84606 (801/3731598; Fax 801/375-4423).

BookLab will hold Open House at Midwinter

Preservation librarians are invited to visit Austin and

BookLab on their way to San Antonio for the ALA Midwinter meeting. The Open House is scheduled for Thursday, January 23, 1992, when BookLab services and operations will be demonstrated by the staff: preservation photocopying, collection maintenance repair, custom boxmaking, and related services. Refreshments will be served and a complimentary bus ride will be provided to meeting hotels in San Antonio (a 70-minute ride) on Thursday evening. To attend, route your ticket to arrive at Austin with return from San Antonio. Then notify Carol Kent at BookLab, 512/837-0479, of your flight arrival time so that transportation can be arranged.

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