The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 20, Number 6
Nov 1996


US-Russian Filming Project Bears Fruit

Four years ago, the project was announced in the Abbey Newsletter:

The Hoover Institution will take part in a joint program to microfilm the archives of the former Communist party of the Soviet Union and the State Archives, now under the jurisdiction of the Committee for Archival Affairs of the Russian Federation (Roskomarkhiv). The microfilm will be made broadly accessible to the Russian people and the world community. An international editorial board will choose the material to film. Microfilm footage of interest to scholars will be selected for publication jointly by the Roskomarkhiv, the Hoover Institution and the International Committee of Scholarly Advisors. Distribution outside Russia will be through Chadwyck-Healey.

Some of that film is now available. American Libraries ran a brief notice in its November issue:

Red Reads. Microfilm-reader light can now be shed on the inner workings of the Soviet Communist Party, thanks to the deposit of more than 2,500 microfilm reels of selected party archives at the Library of Congress. A joint project of the Hoover Institution and the Russian State Archives Service, the microfilming project focuses on key Soviet policymaking groups during the 1920s and 1930s, according to Librarian of Congress James H. Billington

After hearing a rumor that this project had fallen through, the Abbey Publications office called the Hoover Institution to check. As of November 25th, the project is alive and on schedule.

Florence Flood of 1966 is Remembered

The art lovers of Florence have not forgotten the "mud angels," volunteers who came from foreign countries to help salvage muddy paintings and manuscripts as the floodwaters of the River Arno receded in November 1966. Lega Ambiente, an environmental organization, made a list of the names they could find in the archives of Florence, and Mega Review Srl posted it on the Web at 15, hoping readers would fill in any names that were missing. They also asked for "witnesses" (narratives of experiences in the rescue?), which they planned to publish on the Web in English and Italian, under the title "I was there." They planned to link the witnesses up with a gallery of photos on the flood in Florence at allu/eng/gallery.htm.

The list sent out on October 15 had about 200 names on it, including ten English names: eight bookbinders and two conservation scientists-but no Americans. Actually, there were at least eight American book and paper people: Norvell Jones, Marilyn Weidner, Harold Tribolet (now deceased), Richard Young, Paul Banks, Carolyn Horton, Stella Patri and Bernard Rabin. Stella Patri was 70 years old at the time. Bernard Rabin coordinated the American contingent.

Sandro Pintus of Florence ART News, an e-magazine, posted a notice September 24 on the Conservation DistList, asking for those who were there to send in the stories of their experience during the flood. He asked for the e-mail addresses along with the names and regular addresses, forgetting that people who were old enough to go to Florence at the time are from another generation, and some of them do not even have computers. At any rate, Mr. Pintus has an e-mail address and would probably still be happy to hear from overlooked angels of the mud. It is <>. His fax number is 39 55 587321.

More Change at the Getty

The Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities is changing its name to:

The Getty Research Institute
for the History of Art and the Humanities.

They will remain in Santa Monica until June 1997, when they will move to the new Getty Center complex in west Los Angeles.

IIC-Canadian Group is now the CAC

The Canadian conservators have disaffiliated with the International Institute for Conservation, much as the Americans did in 1972, and have named their organization "Canadian Association for Conservation of Cultural Property (Association canadienne pour la conservation et la restauration des biens culturels)," or CAC for short. The address and telephone remain the same.

The CAC conference next May 30 to June 1 will be followed by a two-day workshop on Preservation of Digital Media.

ALA Preservation & Reformatting Section Officers

After the American Library Association conference last summer, this was (and is) the lineup of officers:

Chair: Thomas F.R. Clareson
Vice-chair/Chair-elect: Mark S. Roosa
Past chair: Martha J. Hanson Secretary: Myron B. Chace

Members at large: Jane Hedberg, Lisa Biblo, and James W. Mason.

More Web Sites (Home Pages)

ACRL (Association of College and Research Libraries) Eighth National Conference Homepage (for the Nashville conference, April 11-14, 1997)

AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management)

Council on Library Resources' new Web site on Fair Use and Copyright

CPA (Commission on Preservation and Access) correction)

Library of Congress National Digital Library - technical information, including "Recommendations for the Evaluation of Digital Images Produced from Photographic, Microphotographic, and Various Paper Formats," prepared by the IPI.

Library of Congress National Digital Library Program. Makes available technical discussions, documentation, reports and proceedings from the Program on the American Memory home page:

Center for Safety in the Arts Calls it Quits

As of July 1, the Center for Safety in the Arts suspended all functions, including their newsletter. Their voice mail number announces this, takes no messages, and doesn't mention return of money. CSA subscribers who contact ACTS (Arts, Crafts and Theater Safety, 212/777-0062) will be provided complimentary copies of ACTS FACTS over the period of time remaining on their CSA subscriptions. Any form of proof of payment will do. [From ACTS FACTS, Sept. 1996]

Photocopiers & Respiratory Problems

Dust from office photocopiers causes lung disease, Austrian scientists report in the London-based medical journal, The Lancet. They predict that increased use of photocopiers will result in an increase in respiratory problems among workers.

The scientists discussed the case of a 39-year-old nonsmoker who developed a dry cough and breathlessness after working in a newspaper agency for 18 months where photocopiers were regularly used. The pigmented toner dust contained silica, iron, and copper, all of which can damage the lungs. Tests on samples taken from the worker's lungs and lymph nodes in his chest showed the cells reacted to toner particles. His disease, granulomatous pneumonitis, was treated with steroids, but after nine months he was no better.

Two years ago, The Lancet reported a similar case of a 44-year-old Spanish woman who contracted a disabling lung disease called sidero-silicosis from inhaling iron and silica-containing toner dust while working in a photocopying shop.

(From the November ACTS FACTS.)

Campbell Center's 1997 Courses

For five months every year, the Campbell Center in Mt. Carroll, Illinois, offers a variety of conservation courses. Most are four or five days long and cost about $500-$600, which includes housing and two meals a day. Workshops and refresher courses may cost more.

The courses offered in 1997 that are most relevant to book and paper conservation are:


Care of Works of Art on Paper
Matting Workshop


Emergency Recovery Workshop


Care of Photographic Collections I

Care of Oversize Paper Artifacts

Exhibit Design

Planning for Computerization: Software for Collections Care


Collection Care: Environmental Monitoring and Control

Collection Care: Management & Planning

Introduction to the Care of Books

Care of Archival Collections

October: Refresher Courses

Mycology for Conservators

Pulping Workshop

Conservation Treatment of Leather & Skins


For information call 815/244-1173.

Library Services & Technology Act Replaces LSCA

Just before adjourning September 30, Congress passed an omnibus funding measure that established a Library Services and Technology Act, to take effect in Fiscal 1998. It will replace the Library Services and Construction Act, which has been a source of funding for preservation departments. The Washington office of the ALA worked hard to get the LSTA passed, and is pleased with the result.

The legislation also created an Institute of Museum and Library Services. No word yet on how it will relate to preservation.

NY State Preservation Program Announces Grants

New York State has a well-established preservation program, administered from Albany and headed by Barbara Lilley. Among the eight projects it supported for 1996-97 are:

$1,000 in matching funds for a $47,000 grant from NEH, to the Image Permanence Institute at the University of Rochester, to investigate the effects of pollutants on color and black and white photographic materials, especially microfilm. The IPI will also test commonly available storage enclosures to evaluate the protection they give.

$31,625 for a joint demonstration project involving eleven research libraries to evaluate the use of Kodak photo CD technology for digital conversion of photographs, posters, broadsides and other library materials that are not in the usual textual format. Cornell staff will coordinate the project and work with consultants to develop an evaluation method.

Six Conservators Graduate from Texas Program

Preservation and Conservation Studies (PCS), the graduate program in the University of Texas library school, has graduated its first class of conservators. These six graduates have just completed three years of training, including seven-month internships in the conservation laboratories of the Library of Congress, the National Archives and Records Administration, the University of Iowa libraries, California's Huntington Library, the Conservation Division of Information Preservation, Inc., and the National Library of Wales. They are now working in preservation programs and universities in Texas, New York, Atlanta, Washington DC, California, and Indiana.

Two Fires

There was a serious fire October 29 in a Chicago commercial records center, Brambles/Data Vault Systems, at 3001 N. Knox Avenue. Both the cause and the exact extent of the damage are unknown. The firemen had to tear down a wall of the concrete building to gain access. Records shelved on the other side of the wall were put in a dump truck along with the rubble, and driven off. More information will be available later on, according to the records manager whose report was posted on the Conservation DistList November 1.

Linköping City Library was destroyed by fire September 21, apparently by an arsonist, according to a report posted by Lars Aronsson on the DistList the same day. The actual target was probably the immigrants' information office in the same building. Ironically, the firefighters were able to save most of the office wing of the building, but the library wing appeared to be totally destroyed. In that wing was Sweden's fourth largest collection of manuscripts, according to an unconfirmed source, and the City Archives.

Lars Björdal sent a fairly long report October 3 to the DistList, updating and adding to what Mr. Aronsson had reported, and promising a more exhaustive report in the future. Two conservators and the coordinator of the ICA working group on disaster planning (Lars Björdal, Per Cullhed and Ingmar Fröjd) went down from Uppsala University Library to help with the rescue work, and found to their relief that all of the older books and archival documents in the basement of the main building were saved. The basement ceiling had not collapsed, though there were huge cracks in some parts of it. The firemen had tried to avoid soaking the collections in the basement, and they were largely successful. About two days after the fire began, however, the temperature in the room climbed to dangerous levels because of hot spots in the floor above, so an opening was made in one of the basement walls to ventilate the room. More details can be found in Mr. Björdal's report. His e-mail address is <>.

Specifications for an Archival Sewing Thread

William Minter relates in the current Designer Bookbinders Newsletter that he, Abigail Quandt and Mary Lampert had investigated about 12 years ago how modern linen thread was manufactured, and had put together some specifications that would avoid modern harmful practices, resulting in a more traditional thread with better permanence and working qualities. They had gotten together with about 20 other binders and placed a cooperative order for 50 spools of each of five sizes. Now the thread is nearly gone, and they are getting ready to order again.

This time, Don Guyot of Colophon Book Arts Supply of Olympia, Washington, will establish specifications and presumably place the order. Those interested should contact him at 206/459-2940.

Light-Stable Inks for Inkjet are Marketed by IRIS

IRIS Graphics, a manufacturer of high resolution color printers based in Bedford, Massachusetts, has created the Longevity ink set and two other products designed to extend the lifespan of IRIS prints. In recent years, IRIS prints on art paper have become popular with the arts community, and the company is responding to the demand for longer-lasting prints.

The other two products are PrintSeal, an aerosol protectant, and a new paper from Arches, incorporating a proprietary IRIS treatment that optimizes it for use with IRIS printers and inks by creating a chemical bond between the paper and ink.

(This information is from Imaging Supplies Monthly for October 1996, p. 5-6.)

Where to get Two Unusual Kinds of Paper

Recently, someone called the office to ask where to get paper that could not be photocopied. They were probably referring to Nocopi paper, which was described in this newsletter about ten years ago and can be recognized by its maroon color. It is now distributed by Vista Security Papers in San Mateo, California (415/574-8045, fax 415/571-6445).

Another person called to find out where to get acid-free 3x5" cards. These are probably easier to find now than they were four years ago. The easiest way is to take your pH pen to a paper store and ask the salesperson or manager to use it (or let you use it) to find out whether the cards they carry are alkaline. Sometimes samples of each paper are in a pocket on the shelf next to the supplies, but if not, it may be necessary to make a tiny slit in the cellophane to mark the edge of one or more cards. The package will still be saleable, because if the cards are acidic, the mark will be virtually invisible, and if they are alkaline, you will buy the package.

An alternative is to contact the Riverside Paper Co. (not Corp.), which converts (cuts, labels and packages) the alkaline paper made by the company: 414/749-2200. Ask them if all their Ecology brand 3x5" cards are still alkaline, and if so, whether they can refer you to a distributor near you. It may be necessary to buy a whole box full, because distributors rarely sell in retail amounts. If the distributor has a retail outlet, however, there will be no problem.

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