The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 19, Number 4
Sep 1995


New-York Historical Society open; Library Closed

There was a construction fire in March at the New-York Historical Society, which caused thousands of dollars' worth of damage to library materials. When the Society finally opened May 11 after a two-year shutdown, the library stayed closed while staff cleaned soot off the books. The Society is operating on an emergency cash infusion from a private donor earlier this year; proposed mergers with other institutions have fallen through. (More information in American Libraries, July/Aug. 1995, p. 634.)

Internships for Third-Year Students from Austin

Preservation and Conservation Studies in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Texas at Austin recently announced internships for third-year conservator students. They will begin in January and run through August next year.

Student           Institution

Scott Devine      Library of Congress
                  Conservation Laboratory

Yasmeen Khan      Smithsonian Institution
                  Libraries Conservation

Erika             National Library of Wales

Alan Puglia       University of Iowa Libraries

Mark Rutledge     Conservation Division of
                  Information Conservation,

Nancy Stanfill    Stanford University Libraries

Seven new students have been accepted in the three-year conservation program, to start this fall.

Conservators Learn to Deal with the Press

ICCROM describes in its Newsletter #21 the landmark one-week course they gave on "Conservators and the Media" at their Rome headquarters in June 1995, with Robert Ferguson as instructor. The innovative element was ICCROM's conviction (on the basis of their broad experience) that all conservators, particularly those in middle management and above, have a professional responsibility to communicate and form productive relationships with media representatives. Conservators must be able to appear publicly and make the case for their profession and its importance.

With this in mind, the course organizers invited representatives from the BBC World Service, Associated Press and Le Figaro for discussion and debate. In an intensive seminar, a great deal was learned about the constraints under which journalists work and of their interest in conservation matters.

Participants also discussed strategies for publicizing conservation issues and ways to prepare press statements or handle television interviews. Much of the course was practical and it was based upon the active involvement of all who attended. Much productive work can be undertaken which could strengthen the profession and greatly enhance public recognition of the crucial importance of conservation. (Condensed from story in ICCROM Newsletter #21, July 1995)

Funding and Projects

The first, in the amount of $743,000, supports the expansion of its Preservation Field Service Program and runs for almost three years. With this new grant, SOLINET will offer a variety of educational programs, including one- and two-day workshops on preservation administration for staff with part-time responsibility for preservation, a regional institute on electronic technologies and preservation, a variety of outreach programs at library schools and association meetings, information and referral services, distribution of published information and related services.

The second grant, in the amount of $1.8 million, will run for two years. It will support microfilming of 18,250 deteriorated volumes from 11 institutions, on the history and culture of the southeastern U.S., Puerto Rico, Brazil and Great Britain.

Art Gallery Will Have a Glass Roof

At a recent conference in Munich, where one of the themes was the museum environment, an architect explained the concept for the third art gallery in Munich, which will open in 2000. During the planning stage, funding was cut from 300 to 200 million German marks, so the museum was designed as a daylight museum. The roof surface over the galleries for modern art will be made entirely of glass. There is a photograph of the model and an explanation of how air will circulate and temperature will be regulated, in the July/August Restauro (4/1995, p. 226). The architect's name is Stefan Braunfels.

New Deacidification Process to Come out of France

Astrid Brandt writes in International Preservation News #10 (July 1995, p. 5) that the Bibliothèque Nationale de France has signed an agreement with Separex, a French company, to develop a new process of book treatment that will extract the products responsible for the paper's deterioration, then impregnate them with strengthening and neutralizing products dissolved in supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2). The process was patented by the CEA (the French atomic energy commission), but Separex owns the rights.

The dictionary says that a supercritical fluid is "the mobile phase of a substance intermediate between a liquid and a vapor, maintained at a temperature greater than its critical point." Then if you look up "critical point," you read, "the state at which the properties of the vapor phase of a substance become indistinguishable from those of the liquid phase at the same pressure and temperature, so that the substance exists as a single phase." The next entry in the dictionary gives a clue to why supercritical fluids might have an advantage in deacidification of books: Critical point drying, it says, is a procedure used in microbiology to prepare a specimen for the electron microscope, in which damage to the specimen during its drying step is minimized by avoiding exposure to a liquid-gas boundary.

The supercritical CO2 deacidification process is described as being inexpensive, and using innocuous and chemically inert materials. The fluid has such low viscosity that it penetrates the books thoroughly. The author says nothing about the "strengthening and neutralizing products" dissolved in the fluid, or the conditions under which the process is carried out. When the research and development phase is finished, the plant will be set up within the Technical Center of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Marne-la-Vallé, and it will treat up to 300,000 documents a year.

Two Microfilming Services Have New Names

Winston Atkins, Preservation Librarian at Yale, posted this news on the Conservation DistList:

Recently, Micrographic Systems of Connecticut changed its name and telephone number. For those of you who have been trying to contact them, here is their new name and number:

Archival Microfilm Services (AMS)
Their address, 1133 Dixwell Ave., Hamden, CT 06514, remains the same.

Mr. Atkins added that AMS and Primary Source Media (formerly Research Publications) were the two vendors selected to microfilm for Yale's new NEH project, the British History Preservation Project.

NHPRC Issues Revised Electronic Records Guide

Granting agencies play an important role not only in determining whether certain preservation work at a specific library or archive is undertaken, but in steering the course of preservation through the shoals and reefs of modern technology. NHPRC's report, "Electronic Records Grant Suggestions" gives such guidance. It is described in more detail on p. 12-13 of the April 1995 Annotation. A brief quotation from the first page will give an indication of the kind of leadership it offers.

"…There are a number of unanswered questions about how organizations, individuals, and ultimately, society will ensure the long-term preservation of and access to electronic records. NHPRC is vigorously supporting activities to develop solutions which will ensure that the evidence of our institutions and public and personal lives endures."

In 1991, NHPRC funded a national planning meeting to identify electronic records issues facing the archival community and develop a research agenda. The four activities recommended for archivists were 1) a research agenda with a framework of 10 questions, 2) basic program development, 3) analysis and 4) advocacy. The publication resulting from that meeting, Research Issues in Electronic Records, discusses only records originally created in electronic form. However, one of the objectives in the long-range plan is the reformatting to digital form of textual and other records.

Copies of "Electronic Records Grant Suggestions" are available from Lisa Weber, NHPRC, National Archives Building (Archives I), Room 607, Washington, DC 20408, 202/501-5610, fax 501-5601.

European Photographic Exchange Group Founded

On May 19, 1995, the European Photographic Exchange Group (EPEG) was founded in Copenhagen, at a conference titled "Research Techniques in Photographic Conservation." Attendees from 11 countries agreed tentatively to focus on the following topics:

  1. Registration and documentation of photography on collection and print level (a uniform field description and international exchange format for collection managers).
  2. Preservation and conservation of photography (the exchange of experienc es and the possibility of participating countries assisting another).
  3. Training programs and internships (the exchange of training programs, tutors and students around Europe).
  4. Research (coordination and joint programs among European research centers and possibly co-projects).

The group will seek intensive contact with other organizations such as ICOM and AIC's Photographic Materials Group. The common language will be English.

Mogens Koch was elected president; Hans C. de Herder of Rotterdam was elected secretary. For more information contact Nationaal Foto Restauratie-Atelier, Witte de Withstraat 63, NL-3012 BN Rotterdam (011-31-10/2 33 16 96, fax 10/2 33 19 65).

Video Preservation Symposium

The Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) received funding in July from the Getty Grant Program for an international symposium on video preservation. The symposium, titled "Playback 1996: Video Preservation Round Table," will help establish a new specialty within the field of conservation and focus on developing standard practices for preserving video. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art will host the symposium on March 29 and 30, 1996. For more information contact BAVC, 1111 - 17th St., San Francisco, CA 94107 (415/ 861-3282, fax 861-4316, e-mail VIDEONET@AOL.COM).

ALA Washington Office has New Address

The American Library Association and ALA's new Office for Information Technology Policy moved in August from 110 Maryland Ave., NE, to new and expanded joint offices but with different telephone and fax numbers:

American Library Association
1301 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Suite 403
Washington, DC 20004
202/628-8410; fax 628-8419; email:

Venezuelan Document Delivery Service

Venezuela's National Conservation Center is now able to distribute the bibliography, in printed or computerized form, of all the publications in the field of preservation and conservation held by its documentary center and to facilitate copies of documents of interest. (From International Preservation News #9, April 1995)

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