The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 20, Number 2
Jun 1996


Small Fire at New British Library Building

The British Library's new building at St. Pancras, due to open next December, had a fire about May 29 on one of the floors that are not protected by sprinklers, Level 5 of the bookstacks. It is believed to have been caused by an arcing loose wire in an electric panel box. Smoke alarms went off, building operations staff cut the power to the box, and the fire department came and put out the fire in a short time. Damage was minimal, aside from the panel box.

The four levels below Level 5 are all below ground, and all have sprinklers, but none of the other floors do.

Spoleto School Opens Doors to Students from all over Europe

In the Appenines in Umbria, north of Rome, there is a school for book conservators, headed by Maria Lilli di Franco, which has just opened its doors to students from all countries of Europe. It is in the medieval town of Spoleto, and is sponsored by the Region of Umbria, the Italian Ministry of Culture and the European Union. Its Italian name is Corso Europeo di Formazione Specialistica per Conservatori-Restauratori di Beni Librari (European School for the Conservation of Books and Library Materials).

The curriculum is comprehensive, encompassing codicology, preservation, and conservation. The school will also conduct research in the field of book and paper conservation science. Courses are taught by leading specialists: Tom and Sylvia Albro, Robert Futernick, Chris Clarkson, Nicholas Pickwoad, Tony Cains and John L. Sharpe. The program consists of two years in academic and bench studies, with a third-year internship in recognized conservation laboratories outside Italy. Students are required to have a reading and speaking knowledge of Italian and English. For more information contact Maria Lilli di Franco, viale Martiri della Resistenza, I-06049 Spoleto (PG), Italy (phone./fax 39 7 43/22 05 67).

CPA Newsletters and Many Reports Available on the Web

The full text of newsletters and reports of the Commission on Preservation and Access have been put up on the World Wide Web. The Commission's January newsletter says:

An online order form is provided for WWW users to print-off and obtain Commission publications. Another feature enables users to conduct quick keyword searches of all the Commission's online documents. Links are being developed to WWW sites of other organizations working on collaborative preservation and access projects.

Visitors to the WWW page can contact Commission staff directly via email from the staff home page. The WWW site is being developed and maintained for the Commission by the Stanford University Libraries....

Users are asked to send their suggested changes to the Commission's Communication Program via U.S. mail, fax (202/939-3499) or email (

Some Interesting New French, German and Italian Words

One measure of a country's--something--cultural influence? leadership in technical matters? is the kind of words that get adopted by other countries. Words are also adopted if that country has economic or military power. When England was ruled by the Normans, so many words moved into the English language that now 60% of English has French roots. (Despite the French Academy's efforts to keep French "pure," some of them are moving back the other way. The Canadian Pulp and Paper Association holds an annual "concours de gadgets.")

"Sick building syndrome" is now a genuine Italian phrase.

While reading the literature, and while attending the overseas conferences this past year, the Editor began writing down English words that had strayed into German. Perhaps the words are most significant as indicators of movement of ideas across borders. Here they are:

management (from Restauro 3/96 p. 168)

starten (from an automated message on the fax line, advising the caller in German that they could start sending their fax now. Although it has the German verb ending, it has strictly English pronunciation for the initial st sound.)

preservation (sometimes used with a verbal apology that German has no word for the concept)

team (from Restauro 3/96 p. 170)

layout (context: codicology)


tip (i.e., a brief friendly bit of advice on how to do something)

disaster management

software (as in "um eine Software"--see Gazette du livre medievale, #27)

NEDCC to Have Coordinated Workshop Series

Like SOLINET, the Northeast Document Conservation Center has taken a step that moves them away from the one-night-stand aspect of workshops and further in the direction of coordinating the workshops into an educational program. It will hold five workshops at its Andover facility that, together, will provide the information needed to design, implement, and maintain an effective basic preservation program for documents, books, photographs, and other paper-based materials. The NEH is funding the program.

The first workshop is Oct. 9-11, and covers core concepts in preservation; the second is Dec. 5-6, on emergency preparedness; the third is March 26-28, 1997, on collections maintenance; the fourth is June 12-13, on selection for preservation; and the final one is Sept. 25-26, 1997, on preservation administration. Each session will include pre-workshop readings and exercises, and there will be assignments between meetings. The program is designed for the full-time professional with part-time preservation responsibilities. Each participant is expected to take the whole series. Limited to 20 participants. Application deadline: Sept. 4. Cost: $450. For information contact Steve Dalton, NEDCC, 100 Brickstone Square, Andover, MA 01810 (508/470-1010; fax 475-6021; e-mail

Preservation Technologies has Moved

Preservation Technologies, Inc., supplier of the Bookkeeper Process of deacidification, has moved to 111 Thomson Park Drive, Cranberry TWP, PA 16066 (800/416-BOOK; 412/779-2111; fax 412/779-9808). The new quarters have 12,000 square feet of space, with good shipping and receiving access, air conditioning and good security. Their treatment capacity is now over 150,000 books a year.

Jim Burd is now president and Randy Russell has been promoted to Vice Chairman.

The Library of Congress has begun the regular shipment of books from their collection, and intends to treat at least 4,000 books a month during the coming year.

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