The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 22, Number 2

Update on Bookkeeper

Preservation Technologies L.P. is the company that provides the Bookkeeper deacidification services described on the front page of this newsletter last spring (v.21 #7). Recently the company has experienced remarkable growth. James Burd, president of Preservation Technologies, sent this update by e-mail August 19 on request.

I happen to be in Amsterdam this week, because tomorrow we are giving a tour of our licensee in The Netherlands, Archimascon. In the first half of this year, they have treated about 10,000 pounds of archival materials for the Dutch State Archives. Most of the materials are loose papers, with some bound materials. Archimascon is also treating books for the Royal Library.

We added two new cylinders to our operation earlier this year to duplicate the equipment we provided to Archimascon. We now have capacity for up to 160,000 books per year. We can treat up to 40 tons of archival material (about 4,000 document boxes) in our archival treater.

We expect to need more capacity by next fall (1999), but we are considering the possibility of some regional site locations instead of adding all the new capacity in Pittsburgh. We are engaged in developing several possible sites, and we expect to make some decisions by early next year. We also have increasing interest abroad, and we have inquiries for proposals from national libraries in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Canada.

Since March, we added Bob Strauss as our full time Sales Manager. We have kept him hopping ever since. He has been working hard to help get new contracts in place with the University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins, University of Michigan, the National Library of Quebec, Carnegie Mellon University, and the Kautz Family YMCA Archives. The last two projects are particularly interesting. CMU has lined up a nice grant for deacidification from a local foundation, and the YMCA wants to preserve their entire archive within the next two years. The YMCA project will include approximately 10,000 bound volumes and 3,000 boxes of documents.

A number of library consortia have indicated an interest in working together to achieve lower overall costs. We are now working with the Chesapeake Information and Research Library Association and the University of California to develop these projects and expect to be talking with the Committee for Institutional Cooperation in the near future.

Of course we are continuing our work with Northwestern and Notre Dame. Both schools now have a (more or less) permanent slot in their budget for mass deacidification.

Our contract with the Library of Congress is going well. So far we are just a bit ahead of schedule. We have treated over 150,000 books for LC so far. I think the collection managers at LC are pleased with the treatment results, but they are at least as pleased with all the "spin-off" benefits. As we move through collections at LC, we are adding bar codes, identifying needed repairs, flagging books which are brittle and in need of reformatting, cleaning up inventories, and cleaning the books in the process. This careful program (developed largely by Ken Harris) has helped to change the way LC looks at mass deacidification. I think they now view it as a very effective first stage in their overall preservation strategy. The effect of working through each collection, book by book, is to create an excellent prioritized assessment and inventory of the needs for various preservation treatments. This allows the collection managers to make the best use of limited resources for preserving their collection.

Ken Harris, Preservation Projects Director at the Library of Congress, wrote a one-page article for the August 1998 ARL newsletter, called "Library of Congress Mass Deacidification Program," which gives essentially the same information as the front-page article mentioned above, and also names the LC web site for further information: <>. A box positioned in the middle of the article, however, announces that LC is now serving as a demonstration site for other libraries. It says:

Library of Congress "Demonstration Site"

Given the effective operation of its mass deacidification program for books over the past two years, the Library of Congress is serving as a demonstration site for managers and technical staffs from other libraries, archives, and cultural institutions. Anyone interested in learning firsthand about administrative and work flow procedures required for mass deacidification programs should contact Kenneth E. Harris, Preservation Projects Director, Preservation Directorate, Library of Congress, LM-G21, Washington, DC 20540-4500. Phone: 202/707-1054; Fax: 202/707-3434; E-mail: <>

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