The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 21, Number 7


Note: The classification number that follows each entry is there to help the editor arrange, file and find the citations. When the publisher's address is not given, it can usually be found in the list of Useful Addresses that is mailed out yearly to subscribers.


Calipr 3.0xp, an upgraded version of the preservation needs assessment software originally developed in 1989, has been put on the Web by the Conservation Department at UC Berkeley. It is an automated "expert system" that helps institutions use statistically sound sampling techniques to assess and quantify the preservation needs of their library and archival collections. Calipr uses data gathered from a brief survey questionnaire to guide institutions in setting appropriate priorities for preservation action.

New features include a built-in random number generator for sampling from stacks, printed reports that explain recommended preservation actions for those with little background in the field, and an expanded users' manual.

Calipr software and manual can be downloaded at no charge directly from the Berkeley Library Digital Sunsite, http://sunsite/ Users will also find a sample library map, blank survey form, and a sample management report at the site. Users who register when they download will be notified of improvements in the software and manual.

Calipr is a copyrighted publication of the California State Library and the authors. (1A1)


Association of American Medical Colleges. Developing a Code of Ethics in Research: A Guide for Scientific Societies. 1997. 42 p. $25 + shipping from Association of American Medical Colleges, Section for Publication Orders, 2450 N St., NW, Washington, DC 20037 (202/828-0416, fax 828-1123). Web site:

This is a wonderful book, which is potentially useful in many other fields besides medical research and education. Eighteen main issues or areas of concern are defined, of which the last is enforcement, always a difficult matter to reach agreement on, much less carry out.

No answers are provided, but the way is cleared for each group to discuss the question and reach its own conclusions. The AAMC recommends, however, that codes of ethics should be established. In the introductory section entitled "Why the AAMC has Published this Guide," it says that it is worthwhile for scientific and professional societies to develop codes of ethics and research practice; that few biomedical research or academic societies have adopted such codes at this time; and that one obstacle to developing codes has been a dearth of materials to guide societies in this task.

On page 8 to 31, guidance is provided under the following headings: Creating a positive research environment; Applying for research support; Conducting research; Reporting research; and Avoiding and correcting violations of good conduct. It is all practical and realistic. These five headings are further broken down into the eighteen issues or areas of concern mentioned above.

For instance, under "Reporting Research," the relevant issues are authorship (e.g., whether all the supposed authors really wrote it; defining plagiarism; appropriate attribution of sources), publication (e.g., providing enough information to allow confirmation of research results; publishing in meaningful, complete units that maximize the contribution to the literature; and creating mechanisms for reviewing the standards and procedures of the society's sponsored journal), and editorial peer review (e.g., ensuring that the reviewer is scientifically qualified to evaluate the merit and significance of the research; and treating manuscripts under review confidentially, with respect for the proprietary nature of the ideas and information in them). (1B)


The American Institute for Conservation has published three brochures on the preservation of special objects.

Caring for Your Home Videotape, written by Debbie Hess Norris (with assistance form Peter Adelstein, Dierdre Boyle, Connie Brooks, Alan Lewis, Jim Lindner, and Paul Messier), addresses the issues of environment, handling, storage, disaster situations, and reformatting.

Caring for Your Photographs, by Deborah Derby (with M. Susan Barger, Nora Kennedy, and Carol Turchan), also addresses environment, storage, and disaster preparedness, and provides a list of other resources concerning the care of photographs.

Basic Guidelines for the Care of Special Collections, by Nancy Davis, Pamela Hatchfield and Jane Hutchins, gives an overview of basic preservation principles for special objects, including photographs and books, and discusses environmental hazards and steps for preserving special objects collections.

All three pamphlets are available from the AIC office; for free copies, write to AIC, 1717 K Street, NW, Ste. 301, Washington, DC 20006 (202/452-9545, fax 202/452-9328). (1H)


NFPA 909: Standard for the Protection of Cultural Resources Including Museums, Libraries, Places of Worship, and Historic Properties. 1997 ed. 909 p. About $34 from National Fire Protection Association, 1 Battery march Park, PO Box 9101, Quincy, MA 02269-9101 (800/344-3555).

Until last year, there was no NFPA standard on protection of cultural property from fire, only a series of recommended practices, one for each type of cultural institution. They hadn't felt they could realistically specify very much, since many buildings used for these purposes were old, making retrofitting of fire protection systems impractical. But the documents covered so much of the same material that NFPA decided to combine them into one; then they decided to use mandatory language and make a standard of it. This is the result. The technical committee that wrote the standard included Nicholas Artim, Stephen E. Bush (retired from the Library of Congress), Ross Merrill, John Morris and 20 other people.

Chapter headings are: General (alternative methods, collections storage; special events); Fire Emergency Planning; Fire Prevention; New Construction, Alterations, and Renovations; Fire Precautions During Alterations and Renovations; Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance; Historic Structures and Sites; Museums and Museum Collections; Libraries and Library Collections; Places of Worship; and 194 pages of appendices, 14 in all. (2F7)


AIC Abstracts, Norfolk, VA, June 10-16, 1996. 126 pp. $10 members, $15 nonmembers (+$3 P&H). Order from AIC, 1717 K St., NW, Ste. 301, Washington, DC 20006 (202/452-9545; fax 202/452-9328; e-mail

Some of the most interesting papers were:

"The Development of a Large (70,000 Records) Image Database," by Robert Futernick. p. 20-21. A large collection management project was timed to coincide with a temporary relocation from the Palace of the Legion of Honor while it was being made earthquake-resistant. The project's goals were to upgrade accountability; and to improve housing, storage, and general conservation of the prints, drawings, photographs and illustrated books from the de Young Museum. Bar coding systems and an automated method of measuring object size and were developed and each item was photographed. The color photographs were scanned, stored on Kodak PhotoCDs, and indexed. Viewing and study have increased, while wear and tear have been minimized.

"Specification Surveys and Treatment Management On-Line: Interim Report at 72,000 Items," by Marc Reeves. p. 39. The abstract is short, but the presentation itself was the most complete description yet of the system-wide database used at the New York Public Library Conservation Department. It includes treatment records (with materials used, staff time and materials costs). There are 10,000 digitized photodocumentation slides, shelf list cards, MARC records, and charts of environmental data. The data is accessible to users at five research library sites. Other operations, connected with microfilming, contractual conservation work, and boxmaking, are also conducted using the database.

"Publish, then Perish: The Reclamation of a Collection of Scientific Illustrations," by Heather Tennison, Dianne van der Reyden, Fei Wen Tsai, and Mary Parish. p. 38-39. Original archival materials that have been published are likely to be valued less than unpublished materials, and are being allowed--even encouraged--to perish. This would have happened to the O.C. Marsh dinosaur drawings from the late 1800s, now in the National Museum of Natural History, if a museum specialist had not used his free time to move them to a safe area where they were not likely to be discovered and discarded. A group of individuals has worked together over the past year to preserve these drawings of the dinosaur specimens discovered by Marsh. They include scientific illustrators, conservators, archivists, collections managers, museum specialists, curators, scientists and exhibition designers. The authors fear the Internet will exacerbate the "publish, then perish" problem.

"Recent Advances in the Conservation of Parchment Manuscripts," by Abigail Quandt, p. 43. Some of the advances described were made possible by new equipment, including improved humidification, consolidation of flaking paint and ink, and use of the paper suction table; others involve treatment of very degraded parchment: dry adhesive-coated mending tissue or goldbeater's skin (usually with a cellulose ether or isinglass as the adhesive); and three different methods of pulp filling, developed in three different European countries.

Other papers that can be recommended are those by Mary-Lou Florian, Heather Wanser, M.J. Davis et al., Hanna Szczepanowska, Constance McCabe, and Brenda Berneir et al. Recommended posters are those by Catherine Nicholson (on use of A-D Strips for screening materials) and by Carol Ann Eggert (on a new method for watermark imaging). (3.3)


"The Effect of Different Strengthening Methods on Different Kinds of Paper," by Helmut Bansa and Ritsuko Ishii. Restaurator v.18 #2, 1997, 51-72.

Although this article is written in English, on a familiar topic, it is phrased so awkwardly that it is very hard to read.

The strengthening methods tested were paper splitting (using three different adhesives for the core: wheat starch paste, methyl cellulose and acrylic emulsion [Plextol P565]); conventional leafcasting first to fill losses, then to make thin leafcast sheets that will reinforce the document on both sides; and coating the fibers of the papers with a thin film of Filmoplast Rtm, performed by SCS Specialty Coating Systems in Clear Lake, WI.

Five or six papers (depending on which list you read), both old and new, were treated by all four methods. None of the papers was weak enough to be a real candidate for strengthening. Table 1 lists the papers: filter, coated, groundwood 19th century (80% mechanical pulp), groundwood 20th century (60% mechanical pulp), rag 17th century and "rag light" (light-colored pages from the same book as "rag 17th century" papers). All were aged with moisture after treatment, then tested for strength by the author's "tensile post fold" method, which has apparently never been described in English, though Bansa compared test results obtained by this and more conventional methods in Restaurator v.13 p. 114-137, 1992. Thickness, stiffness and color change were measured too.

Conclusions: Splitting and lamination increased thickness most (by four or five times the original thickness). Leafcasting and parylene approximately doubled the thickness. All treatments changed the color of the papers slightly, but not in any regular way. Leafcasting made the least change in the appearance of the porous papers (groundwood and old rag); parylene made the least change in the coated papers, which are smooth. All papers were strengthened by all the processes, except for parylene-coated groundwood. It was weaker after aging than it had been before it was treated. (3B2.5)


Topics in Photographic Conservation v.7:

"Update: Remoistenable Lining with Methyl Cellulose Adhesive Preparation," by Irene Brückle, p. 88-89.

"Remoistenable Tissue, Part II: Variations on a Theme," by Sarah S. Wagner, p. 91.

Methyl cellulose, alone or mixed with paste, is a good adhesive for remoistenable backings (introduced in the 1980s by Bob Futernick and further developed by Cathy Baker) because it does not shrink when it dries and is easily reversible with a bit of water. The preparation and use processes are described and discussed.

Wagner's "variations on a theme" include use of silkscreens and window screens to achieve a thicker, more uniform film; dilution with water for weakening the adhesive; and varying the ratio of paste and methyl cellulose to increase the strength of the adhesive layer. Ultrathin tissues with light adhesives can be used to bridge weakened areas. Unsupported adhesive film can be used as an adhesive for water-sensitive materials (red-rotted leather, delaminated mountboards, and so on). (3B2.63)


Topics in Photographic Conservation v.7. "The Pellicular Burlesque," by Doug Munson, p. 55-65.

Munson describes a tricky procedure for transferring gelatine image pellicles to new supports when the old support has degraded, without compromising the principles of conservation. He sets down the process in detail, but it calls for so much dexterity, knowledge of materials, and experience that it has rarely been described in the literature. Aqueous solutions have to be avoided; the pellicle is separated from the base by dissolving the cellulose nitrate coating on the base with a solvent combination. After separation and cleaning, a small amount of water is introduced to allow it to relax. It is then dried and returned to the institution unmounted but in a folded pouch, between stiffeners, in an archival paper enclosure. (Remounting on a new base would be risky and expensive, and the separate pellicle is tough enough to handle for research and making copies.) (3F1.4)


The Administration of Television Newsfilm and Videotape Collections: A Curatorial Manual, edited by Steven Davidson and Gregory Lukow. 246 p. $41 (includes shipping) from the American Film Institute in L.A. (fax 213/856-7616) or the Louis Wolfson II Media History Center in Miami (fax 305/375-4436).

This book deserves a review because there is no other like it, but the search for a reviewer has not been successful.

There are 14 chapters:

1. TV as History: The Importance of Television Preservation, by Dr. Barry L. Sherman and Dr. Louise M. Benjamin

2. A History of Television Newsgathering Formats, by Alan Lewis

3. Appraisal of Collections, by Ernest J. Dick

4. Station-Archives Relations, by Steven Davidson

5. A Case Study: Newsfilm Preservation Project at the State Historical Society of North Dakota, by Gerald G. Newborg

6. The Preservation of News and Documentary Film, by William T. Murphy (a long chapter)

7. Videotape Issues and Concerns, by Steven Davidson (equipment, format, inspection, image quality, life expectancy)

8. Arrangement and Description, by Helene Whitson and Gerry Yeager

9. Cataloging, by Jane Dunbar Johnson

10. Research and Reference Service, by Dan Den Bleyker

11. Licensing Footage: A Researcher's Perspective, by Kenn Rabin

12. Shopping in Film Archives: A Producer's View, by James A. DeVinney

13. Television Archives and the Academic, by Dr. Brian Rose

14. Outreach, by Karan Sheldon

There is an index, a bibliography and a photo directory. There are over 200 photographs, principally of equipment. Detailed information is given of all sorts that could be useful for television archives operating at local and regional levels. Funding was provided by the NHPRC. (3F4)


Chemistry & Biology sent in a list of "moldy" web sites:

He said he doesn't necessarily agree with everything found on these sites, but he does believe that all should be heard.

His own page is at, which has a link to his "pet sponge."

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