Deacidification Pilot Plant to Close
The following announcement was issued by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Dec. 16:
This is to alert you that Akzo Chemicals, Inc. has decided to shut down its pilot Book Preservation Facility in Texas effective in the first quarter of 1994. This decision was taken against the backdrop of ongoing testing as well as active marketing of services. Akzo Chemicals holds the exclusive license to use the Library of Congress-developed diethyl zinc (DEZ) deacidification process. This development will drastically alter the mass deacidification market and poses the danger that research libraries will no longer have access to a cost-effective corrective technique to deacidify library materials while they are still sound and not yet brittle.
The closing of the plant signals Akzo's assessment of "limited prospects for the adoption of DEZ in the near future." In a letter to ARL, Akzo reports that this action is taken "despite our firm belief that it represents the best available technology to address a need that is real and truly worldwide."
In the last year about a dozen ARL libraies have sent shipments of materials to be treated; Harvard and Johns Hopkins have actually integrated use of Akzo's deacidification services into the libraries' preservation program. For the past year the Library of Congress has contracted with Akzo for a research and development effort to perfect the DEZ deacidification process with a special emphasis on elimination of odor.
On December 13, 1993, Akzo notified the Library of Congress of the decision to discontinue deacidification services. ARL has asked LC to clarify the impact of this action on LC preservation programs and on the availability of the technology for use by other libraries. We will keep you informed.