The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 21, Number 7


A U.S.-Russian Exchange Program

Since 1994, seven staff members from the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg have studied conservation in the United States under the auspices of the Northeast Document Conservation Center. Six staff members of NEDCC have made reciprocal visits to the hermitage. This ongoing exchange program has been supported by the J. Paul Getty Grant Program, the Trust for Mutual Understanding, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the Open Society Institute, and the United States Information Agency.

A similar exchange plan, mediated by a voluntary organization called "Craftswomen and Craftsmen at the European House" and financed partly by the German government, has been established to arrange exchanges between craftsmen in Eastern and Western Europe. This plan is being set up by Nikolaus Huhn, who can be reached till May 1998 at 9 Staff House Road, Runwell, Wickford, Essex, SS11 7PZ UK (tel: 44 1268 735634).

DoD Establishes Standard Criteria for Records Management Software

In November, the Design Criteria Standard for Electronic Records Management Software Applications was approved for use throughout the Department of Defense. It defines the basic legislative, operational and regulatory requirements to be met by records management products bought by the DoD. Commercial products conforming to the standard were expected "early in 1998."

The standard marks the first time a federal agency has developed formal criteria for electronic records management. Also developed were a software test suite and records management software applications product register. The register will list all record management software products that are certified for purchase by the DoD.

A DoD Records Management Task Force was created in 1995, to carry on the job of planning begun at DoD in 1993. The new task force was directed by the National Archives and Records Administration, with membership from sectors of the DoD, and collaboration from government and industry. Details of the Records Management Plan and the product register can be found on the Defense Information Systems Agency's Joint Interoperability Test Command home page at The DoD's press release of Dec. 1, 1997, was mounted at

On January 20, Ken Thibodeau at the Archives said that two software programs were in the process of being certified and others were in the pipeline, but none had been approved yet. NARA signed an agreement with DoD in December: It will review DoD's work for consistency with NARA regulations, and will work to extend their baseline, e.g. to security, privacy and freedom of information.

John Carlin, Archivist of the U.S., discusses these developments on p. 3-4 of The Record for January 1998.

A Turntable that Plays Old LPs Without a Needle

Archival Outlook for Jan/Feb. carries a low-key ad for the E L P Laser Turntable, which senses the vibrations in the grooves with several laser beams and puts out an electrical signal from that. It is well suited to playing old and fragile 33.3, 45 or 78 rpm vinyl records, even those recorded at nonstandard speeds. The National Library of Canada has one, and allowed its comments to be published in Archival Outlook. There is more information at the E L P Website: The E L P Corporation is in Japan.

ClO2's Usefulness in Preservation is Explored

Chlorine dioxide, a very reactive, unstable gas which is routinely used for bleaching in pulp mills and which can be used in a number of ways for bleaching in paper conservation, is also a potent biocide and deodorant. It has so many potential uses that Englehard Corp., a company located in Rhode Island, is investigating its potential uses in preservation of library and archive materials.

One of the uses being investigated is mold control in collections-holding institutions without adequate air conditioning. Another is odor removal for books from tropical countries, or of rugs after a water disaster. Englehard says it has a stabilized form of ClO2, and a sachet that releases small amounts of ClO2 only when the relative humidity rises above a certain point. The sachet has been used successfully in one library that had an area too heavily contaminated for mold growth to be stopped by control of RH alone.

Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary says that the compound is usually made at the point of consumption from sodium chlorate, sulfuric acid and methanol, or from sodium chlorate and sulfur dioxide; and that it decomposes in water. It is a strong irritant, with a tolerance of 0.1 ppm in air. At weaker concentrations, it is used in swimming pools, and for washing food.

Englehard Corp. is at 554 Ten Rod Road, North Kingstown, RI 01852 (401/295-8800, ext. 29; fax 401/ 295-7108). The Regional Manager is Jeff Burkle.

Smithsonian's CAL becomes SCMRE

Education gets equal billing with research in the new name of the Conservation Analytical Laboratory. Here is the announcement that Lambertus van Zelst mounted on the Conservation Distribution List in January:

On January 26, 1998, the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution voted to rename the Conservation Analytical Laboratory to: Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education (SCMRE).

The new name was chosen to reflect better the present mission of SCMRE, of research and education in the conservation, preservation, technical study and analysis of museum collection items and related materials. This action by the Board of Regents serves as a formal approval of this mission and a recognition of SCMRE's status as a Smithsonian research institute.

Originally established in 1963, principally to provide technical support to the Smithsonian museums in the analysis and conservation needs of the collections, CAL moved in 1983 to the then newly completed Museum Support Center, to embark on a mission of independently formulated programs in research and education in conservation and scientific studies of collection materials, serving a nationwide and international professional audience. Since then, it has obtained international recognition as a major research and training facility in its field.

SCMRE will continue building on the existing CAL programs with the same staff and under the same direction. As a research institute of the Smithsonian Institution, SCMRE reports to the Provost....

Short Summer Courses at Camberwell College

Camberwell College in London offers semester-long courses in a variety of crafts, including bookbinding, but it also teaches conservation at an undergraduate level. This summer it will offer short courses in conservation at its Conservation Centre. Some of them are listed below. Instructors' names and dates are in parentheses.

What is Conservation? (Mark Sandy, 20 July)
Conservation Mounting (Susana dos Santos, 2 days in April, July or September)
Conserving Historic Photographic Material (Corinne Hillman, 3 days in April or July)
The History and Chemistry of Modern Media (Aeli Clarke, 8 July)
The History and Chemistry of Traditional Media (Aeli Clarke, 9-10 July)
Exploring Cold Vacuum Table Techniques (Marcel Ciantar, 30-31 July)
Fee: �30-�165 per course. For information, e-mail the Centre at <>, or call them at 44 171 514 6311 (fax 44 171 514 6315).

Field Services Resume at Upper Midwest Center

The Upper Midwest Conservation Association (UMCA) announced in February the receipt of an NEH grant to fund its field services program, which has just been through a period of review and evaluation. New staff have also been signed on. The new director is Sherelyn Ogden, former Director of Book Conservation at NEDCC and fellow of both AIC and IIC; the new Field Services Coordinator is Mary Robbins, who has six years' experience in museums.

Programs have been planned for the next two years. Two basic workshops will be offered in each of the five primary states served by UMCA (Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin), and in other states if requested. Two advanced workshops, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, will be offered in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area: Environmental Standards for Cultural Institutions (late summer or fall) and Integrated Pest Management (spring of 1999).

Other services include 1) general needs assessment surveys and collection-specific surveys (subsidies available), 2) mentoring (concentrated, continuing help and support with collections care), 3) Technical assistance in response to requests by phone, fax, e-mail or written correspondence, and 4) emergency assistance and help with emergency preparedness planning.

The Field Services Department can be reached by phone at 612/870-3128, fax 612/870-3118 or e-mail <>.

ISO Standards in the Pipeline in 1997

ISO/NP 15660, Requirements for storage and handling of sound media and electronic optical media. ["NP" may mean "New proposal."]

ISO/CD 11798, Permanence of writing, printing and copying on paper documents - Requirements and methods. ["CD" means "Committee Document."] This one is nearly ready to publish.

Approval expected, but not yet announced: ISO/CD 11799, Storage requirements for archive and library materials. The best part of this standard is the section contributed by the National Fire Protection Association. The standard covers all aspects of the storage environment, including disaster prevention measures.

ISO/DIS 11800, Recommendations for binding materials and methods used in the manufacture of books. ["DIS" means "Draft international standard."] Edition binding.

ISO/CD 14416, Requirements for binding of books, periodicals, serials and other paper documents for archive and library use - Methods and materials. Library binding.

ISO/NP 15659, Standardization of permanent and durable boards used for bookbinding and storage purposes. "Archival board."

A new item, no number assigned yet: Information and documentation--Archives boxes and file covers for paper documents. "File covers" means "file folders."

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