The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 17, Number 4
Sep 1993



Eight Conservator Students in PCS, U.T. Austin

Preservation and Conservation Studies for Libraries and Archives (PCS), the program that moved from Columbia University to the University of Texas last year, has admitted eight students to its first class of conservators in Texas: Scott Walker Devine, Tracy Brooke Grimm, Yasmeen Rauf Khan, Erika Lindensmith, Russell Martin, Alan Puglia, Mark Rutledge and Nancy Ellen Stanfill. Only two (Khan and Rutledge) are from Texas.

The first class of preservation students was admitted in the fall of 1992.

PCS has moved to new facilities in the Collection Deposit Library (not the same as the "Library Storage Warehouse" described in the December issue of this Newsletter). The address of the program has not changed, but telephone numbers are different. The telephone is now 512/471-8290; fax 471-8285.


Reports of Bookless Libraries Seen as Premature

California State University has put most of its library construction projects on hold while it confers with major communications companies on how to build a "virtual library." It has 20 campuses, of which seven have library expansion projects in the planning or early construction stage. (According to the September American Libraries, university librarians at two of those seven campuses had not yet heard of the building freeze, though the decision had been announced to campus presidents late in June.) A spokesman said that a new campus near Monterey, due to open in 1995, will have a library that will provide access to information mainly, but not wholly, through electronic media. Another spokesman discounted the idea that books were going to be replaced in the near future by disks.

Thirteen years ago, according to an editorial in the October issue of the same journal, the New York Times got everyone all excited by announcing that Clarkson College in upstate New York was doing away with books, because it was now able to put the reader directly in touch with the author through the computer. The American Libraries editor learned recently from the executive director of the Educational Resources Center (library) there, however, that they still have about 130,000 volumes of print materials and make extensive use of "resource sharing."


Skum-X Formula Changed

Skum-X is an eraser powder manufactured by Dietzgen and widely used in paper conservation. It used to consist of rather large granules of a slightly yellow rubber; but now the particles are grey and white and very small. A solvent odor is said to be noticeable when the container is opened.

According to a May 1993 analytical report (ARS No. 3195) by Elizabeth Moffatt of the Canadian Conservation Institute, the major organic constituent is factice, an unsaturated vegetable oil crosslinked with sulfur bonds, while the major inorganic constituent is talc. The grey particles contained high concentrations of sulfur and chlorine, while the smaller white particles had higher levels of magnesium and silicon. There was a small amount of calcium carbonate. The major cause for concern is the small particle size, which will result in more residue in the cleaned surface. A petition has been circulated at conservation meetings in three countries urging the manufacturer to bring back the old formula.


Seven Years after Arson Fires, LAPL Comes Back Home

In April and again in September of 1986, an arsonist set destructive fires in the Central Library in downtown Los Angeles, and destroyed 400,000 books. Volunteers packed 1.3 million books for freezing, and put over half a million smoke-damaged and undamaged books in storage. Three years later, the frozen books were dried by Document Reprocessors and Airdex (Solex), and the library began operation out of temporary quarters. The restored building reopened October 3, with sprinklers, new security locks and other modern conveniences.

From the Oct. 1 Library Journal)


Paper Conservators Consider Needs of Herbaria

There was a one-day meeting at the Liverpool Museum last May 14, organized by two museum conservators and the Institute for Paper Conservation, on the conservation and preservation of herbaria, which are collections of dried and mounted plant specimens. It was not a big meeting, with only 41 attendees, but the conservators and botanists who were there gave the speakers their rapt attention for most of the day, and the talks were all relevant, interesting, and well presented, according to the longish report by Helen Creasy in the September Paper Conservation News.


Barcode Project a Dust & Mold Exposure a Sick Staff

The University of Minnesota/Duluth library spent $100,000 and closed for three weeks in June, on the advice of the UM Department of Environmental Health and Safety, to have dust and mold cleaned from the collection and ventilation system. Fifteen library employees are reported to have had breathing problems, eye irritations and skin rashes while handling books for a computer barcoding project. Gloves and masks are now provided for those engaged in the project.


The Infinity Sign will Also be Used for ISO Standard

Since the international and the U.S. standards for permanent paper are so similar, ISO has been permitted to use, as part of the ISO standard, NISO's symbol for papers that comply with the requirements. It will look like this:

 [Infinity Symbol]
ISO 9706

It is all right to start using the ISO standard right now, even before it is published, according to a press release from Ivar Hoel, Secretary of ISO/TC 46/SC 10, the committee that formulated the standard, because the specifications will be the same as in the draft circulated in September 1992. Briefly, those are:

  1. Strength. For papers of grammage of 70 g/m2 or more (about 20 lb. for bond or 50 lb. for offset), tearing resistance in any direction has to be at least 350 mN. (There is a formula for calculating the tearing resistance of lighter weight papers.)
  2. Alkali reserve. Calcium carbonate 2%, or equivalent.
  3. Resistance to oxidation. Kappa number less than 5.0 (which corresponds to less than 1% lignin). The sample size has to be adjusted for maximum sensitivity in the range near kappa number 5.0; Annex A tells how to do it.
  4. pH. Between 7.5 and 10.0, by the cold extraction method; also, no single layer should have a pH value below 7.5. For pH of individual layers, the manufacturer's warrant of the use of an alkaline process may be accepted.

The ISO standard, like ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992, covers coated as well as uncoated paper.


IIC Program for September '94 Has Material for Paper Conservators

The August issue of the IIC Bulletin announced seven or eight papers on control of humidity, light, pollution and other environmental factors in buildings; one on oxygen-free storage; and two on film collections. The posters, listed in the October issue, will include two on cold storage of photographs, one on models for preventive care programs "in diverse paper-based research"; one on leather dressings; two on insect control; and others on aspects of environmental control. The meeting will be in Ottawa, September 12-16, 1994. For more information fax the IIC at 44-71-976 1564.

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