The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 17, Number 6
Nov 1993


Internships in Conservation of Rare Books and MSS

Internships are available from September, 1994 in the specialist workshop at West Dean College in England. Places are intended for those who have already obtained a degree or diploma qualification in relevant subjects. For further information and application forms, apply to: West Dean College, West Dean, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 0QZ. Tel: (0243) 811301; Fax (0243) 811343. [Note: to call or fax from the U.S., dial 011 to get you out of North America; 44 for the U.K.; drop the zero and dial the rest of the number. -Ed.]

Mentors in Preservation

A recommendation from the Special Committee on Preservation Needs of Law Libraries (whose report was described on p. 13-14 in the May Abbey Newsletter) was to compile and update a list of AALL members who would be prepared to serve as mentors to other members on specific preservation questions. Members were asked to volunteer for this in the November AALL Newsletter, and a list of mentors with their subject areas will be published in the March AALL Newsletter. Patricia Denham, Chair of the Preservation Committee, is coordinating this effort. Her fax number is 513/556-6265.

SOLINET Workshops for First Quarter of 1994

Six preservation workshops were scheduled for the period January-March, the first two of which (Strategies for Disaster Preparedness, and Book Repair: Fundamental Techniques) have already been given. The other four are:

  Feb. 18  Beating the Critter Jitters       Broward County Public Library,
                                             Ft. Lauderdale, FL

  Feb. 24  Library Binding for Preservation  Tennessee State University,
                                             Nashville, TN

  Mar. 2   Disaster Prep & Recovery      Armstrong State College,
                                             Savannah, GA

  Mar. 30  Hurricane Disaster Planning       University of New Orleans, LA

A 61-page booklet giving details of all SOLINET workshops for the first quarter can be sent on request. Call SOLINET (Southeastern Library Network) at 404/892-0943 or 800/999-8558, or fax (404/892-7879). Amy Bernath is the Continuing Education and Training Manager there. The booklet does not say whether the workshops are open to people outside the area served by SOLINET.

More Campbell Center Courses

The preliminary course announcement for the Campbell Center's 1994 courses was described in the last issue on p. 70. Now the course catalog is out, and it includes a number of additional courses: Disaster Mitigation II, Matting Workshop, Advanced Matting & Hinging Workshop, Care of Maps, Posters & Oversize Paper Artifacts, Computer Software for Collections Management, Identification of 20th Century Polymeric Materials, and The Vellum Leaf. The course on book repair has apparently been dropped. For a catalog, call 815/244-1173.

26 Graduate From SAA Preservation Program

Archival Outlook, the newsletter of the Society of American Archivists, lists the names of the 26 people who graduated from the Northeastern and Midwestern Series of the NEH-funded SAA Preservation Management Training Program, and identifies them in two group pictures. This program consists of sequential workshops over a year-long period, and calls for a lot of real-life homework at the student's home institution between workshops.

The Western Series of workshops began in November and the Southeastern Series will begin in February 1994. For more information see the story in the May issue of the Abbey Newsletter on p. 7-8, or call Evelyn Frangakis at SAA, 312/ 922-0140.

Rare Book School is Alive and Very Well

The Rare Book School (RBS) was established at Columbia University in 1983 by Terry Belanger, and it moved with him to the University of Virginia when the library school at Columbia closed. Attendance at the 1993 RBS in July was the third largest in its history, despite declining institutional support for attendees in recent years. The student body was diverse, including rare book (31%) and other (21%) librarians, professors (9%), bookbinders and conservators (9%), and antiquarian booksellers.

Copies of the Rare Book School 1993 Yearbook are available for $10 from Rare Book School, 114 Alderman Library, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22903 (804/924-8851; e-mail It contains course descriptions, student evaluations of each course, student listings, statistics, and photographs.

A French 1-year Program in Preventive Conservation

The University of Paris Panthéon-Sorbonne has set up a D.E.A.S. (Diplôme d'Etudes Supérieures Spécialisées) in Preventive Conservation. This is a post-Master's Degree diploma course, beginning in the 1994-95 university year. It was developed in collaboration with ICCROM and various services of the French Ministry of Culture. The announcement in the IIC-CG Bulletin for September does not say whether they teach book or paper conservation. Deadline for application is January 31.

Whole-Discipline Preservation is Coming

The Research Libraries Group (RLG), which now works through task forces and projects rather than committees, has a task force looking into whole-discipline preservation. It will do a survey and create a pilot project. This focus goes right along with current trends in the professional disciplines, which in recent years have been organizing their own preservation efforts: law librarians through AALL; medieval studies through the Medieval Academy of America; archives and manuscripts through the SAA, CPA and other organizations; agricultural materials through the National Agricultural Library ; and natural history collections (including the specimens and associated records) through the Society for Preservation of Natural History Collections.

The December AALL Newsletter has a little article on p. 189 and 205 that provides an example of a preservation problem best suited for handling by professional law librarians. Entitled "Core Legal Materials and Their Preservation: The U.S. Statutes at Large," it discusses the preservation alternatives for this immense set of brittle law books: paper strengthening, reprinting, microfilming, and deacidifying an acidic reprint. The last option is recommended. (The full set of reprinted volumes costs nearly $10,000.)

Interlibrary Loan is Expensive

RLG's Interlibrary Loan Advisory Committee, established in 1988, did an ILL cost study that was completed in 1992. Results indicate a mean unit borrowing cost of $19 and a mean unit lending cost of $11.

Materials for Storage & Display are Tested

Research on materials suitable for the storage and display of artefacts has been done in recent years at the Canadian Conservation Institute, Getty Conservation Institute, Library of Congress, National Archives, and the Smithsonian's Conservation Analytical Lab, as well as in research labs abroad. New and unexpected findings come to light every year.

At the British Museum, David Thicket, Scientific Officer in the Conservation Research Section, wrote last month, in response to an inquiry, that their surveys and research into the use of the "Oddy" test to assess the suitability of a material for the storage and display of artefacts were now complete. They are writing a report and hope to publish it in 1994.

At the National Archives in Washington, the shrink-wrap study has been completed. The report is summarized in the Summer 1993 SAA Preservation Section Newsletter (received December 18) on p. 9-11. Simulated volumes (new acidic paper, 50 sheets each) were shrink wrapped in 75 gauge (.075 mil) Clysar EHC, a very stable polyethylene polypropylene copolymer film containing no plasticizers. They were aged with unwrapped controls for eight weeks at 70°C and 65% RH, then tested for brightness, fold endurance, pH, and viscosity. The results of the fold endurance, pH, and viscosity tests did not show any significant differences between the wrapped and unwrapped samples, but brightness of the shrink wrapped sheets decreased by about 15%. Papers in the middle of both wrapped and unwrapped packages were brighter than those on the ends of the "volumes." For more information, contact Su Lee-Bechtold at Archives II in College Park (301/713-6700; fax 301/713-6690).

Editor of Online Magazine Sticks up for Paper

Louis Rossetto, editor and publisher of Wired, a magazine about digital technologies that is sold both in hard copy and online, is quoted in the July 5 New York Times as saying, "There's nothing that comes close to the user-friendliness of paper. Paper is completely random-access; it's high-resolution; it's portable; it's almost interactive in the way it gives you the ability to determine the pace, to go backward or forward. Paper is still the best way of delivering high thought content."

Upward Migration Paths to New Media are Advocated

Trudy Peterson, as the Acting Archivist of the United States, summarizes in Archival Outlook for November the Archives' recent reassessment of digital storage media in three areas. First, records will be accessioned in certain (not all) CD-ROM formats. As these formats become obsolete, the Archives' Center for Electronic Records believes it can handle the conversion problem.

Second, file transfers over networks will simplify things, eliminating any incompatibility between the media used by the agency that created them and the media used for storage at the Archives, as long as open transfer standards are observed.

Third the Archives will soon make available guidelines for use of digital imaging and optical media storage technologies in the federal government. Digital information technology standards developed both here and abroad require new technology to be "backward compatible," which means that upward migration paths will be available, and orphans and dead ends can be avoided. Peterson believes these standards offer the most effective long-term solution to technology obsolescence.

On-Demand Printing May Ease Shortage of OP Books

The Commission on Preservation and Access (CPA) had an exploratory project called IBID, the purpose of which was to interest publishers in reprinting out-of-print books that are still needed for research. The publishers were indeed quite interested; in fact some university publishers are currently acquiring on-demand printing capabilities. So the IBID project will not be carried out further.

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