The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 18, Number 2
Jun 1994

LC Mass Deacidification Program: June Update

During the past year, the Library of Congress worked actively with Akzo Chemical Co. on further refinement of the DEZ deacidification process, and an LC-appointed team has been conducting an evaluation of Preservation Technologies, Inc.'s Bookkeeper process.

Akzo: DEZ Process. A team of technical specialists from the chemical, scientific, and library fields helped the Library design and evaluate a research and development project aimed at solving DEZ treatment problems identified during the Library's earlier deacidification procurement effort. The Swiss Federal Archives cooperated with the Library and participated on the technical management team. The Library also contracted with the University of Houston and the University of Delaware, where 15 laboratory experiments were conducted to emulate conditions in the Akzo plant in Texas. This laboratory research focused attention on reducing book and permeation temperatures as a primary means of eliminating or significantly reducing previously observed problems such as odors and minor physical damage in treated books. The test runs conducted for the Library demonstrated significant progress in addressing these issues.

In December, Akzo Chemical Co. announced that it had made a business decision to withdraw from the deacidification business; the company stopped treating books for customers, including LC, in April. The Library hopes to complete its report about the DEZ research and development initiative and submit it to Congress in June. The report will be based in part upon assessment of the odor level and physical condition of books treated in LC's test runs. The latter assessment, conducted by conservators and an LC-management deacidification assessment team, cannot be concluded until books from each of LC's test runs are returned from Texas. As of early June, books from one of the final test runs had not been received back at the Library for evaluation.

PTI: Bookkeeper Process. The second phase of the Library's deacidification program seeks to evaluate and encourage the development of other deacidification processes. After the Library advertised the availability of this evaluation and testing program, Preservation Technologies, Inc. (PTI) of Pittsburgh was the only company that requested a formal evaluation of their process, known as Bookkeeper.

The Library has employed an excellent team of technical specialists in the Pittsburgh area to help it evaluate the Bookkeeper process. In addition, the Library contracted with the independent Institute of Paper Science and Technology (IPST) testing laboratory in Atlanta to obtain physical and chemical test results on Bookkeeper-treated books; and the Library asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assess the impact of this process.

PTI has treated library and test books for the Library's technical evaluation team. Samples were aged at the Library and are being tested by IPST. After it receives final IPST test data and the EPA report, LC's evaluation team will complete its report concerning the Bookkeeper process, probably in August. Preliminary results received to date from the evaluation team, IPST, and the EPA look promising.

Reports. The report about Bookkeeper and the Library's report on the DEZ process will be submitted to Congress with recommendations; as soon as they are available, both reports will be shared with the library and preservation communities in the U.S. and worldwide.

[For further information, contact Kenneth Harris in the LC Preservation Directorate on 202/707-1054; Fax 707-3434.]

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