The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 22, Number 3



Cost/Benefits Appraisals for Collection Care: A Practical Guide, by May Cassar. £12.00 + £2.50 postage & packing, from the Museums & Galleries Commission, 16 Queen Anne's Gate, London SW1H 9AA, UK (tel: 44 0171 233 4200; fax 0171 233 3686; e-mail <>). Prepayment required, by check, bank draft or Visa/MasterCard. 1998. ISBN 0 948630 62 0. 48 pp.

A highly detailed, multi-stage system for deciding on a course of action is described, with options that need to be prioritized and quantified by a task group in terms of costs and benefits--e.g., which building to choose for offsite storage, or how much the museum can afford to spend on conservation of two ornate gilt tables. The system involves calculation or prediction of risks, future events, costs and outcomes so that they can be weighed against each other. It may not be too abstract for use in a museum, if the task group is used to dealing with these concepts, but it would probably be hard to implement in a library or archive in the States, where different terms and concepts are used.

The ten steps in a cost/benefits appraisal listed on p. 9 seem simple enough, though:

Have a statement of purpose (or forward plan)
Develop key aims
Prioritize the key aims
Derive objectives (or supporting tasks)
Rank or "weight" the objectives
Decide on the options
Cost the options
Assess benefits of the options through the weighted scores
Compare the costs and benefits of the options
Check for uncertainties which might affect the decision.


Guide to the Evaluation of Library Collections. Barbara Lockett, ed. 1989, $15 from ALA Order Dept., 155 N. Wacker Dr., Chicago, IL 60606. ISBN 0-8389-3370-X. A dollar figure can be very helpful in persuading management that the collection is worth the cost of fire protection and other preservation measures.


"The Use of Teams in ARL Libraries," SPEC Flyer 2, prepared by George J. Soete, ARL/OMS Organizational Development Consultant. July 1998.

The Association of Research Libraries has been publishing SPEC Kits (assembled contributions from research libraries, compiled and issued as "kits" by its Systems and Procedures Exchange Center) since 1977. This "SPEC Flyer" is a two-page summary of the kit on the same subject. It can be downloaded from the web at

The introduction to the flyer gives the reason this topic was selected for a SPEC survey: "Current ARL library environments are characterized by constant and turbulent change. As a result, library staff are required to be more agile and creative in responding to a growing number of challenges in the technological environment, parent institution programs, and available resources. Whether ARL libraries are mounting electronic reserve systems, supporting distance learning programs, or making collections dollars stretch further, there is a strong movement toward meeting these challenges through new and more intense collaborations, both within the library and externally with partners." This makes sense for preservation too.

Eighty-three libraries responded to the survey. Of the 47 libraries that completed the entire survey, 64% reported having at least one permanent team in their organization, and 73% reported having at least one project team. More than half give special training to staff related to teams. The two features most frequently found in the reported teams were "Clear purpose and goals" and "Shared decisions and consensus," and the two most frequently reported criteria of effectiveness were "Positive effect on morale" and "More staff involvement in problem-solving."


IFLA Principles for the Care and Handling of Library Material, compiled and edited by Edward P. Adcock, with the assistance of Marie-Thérèse Varlamoff and Virginie Kremp. (International Preservation Issues #1) International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions Core Programme on Preservation and Conservation (PAC), and Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), 1998. 72 pp. ISBN 2-912743-00-1. Also available on the CLIR and IFLA websites: <> and <>.

This publication is the first item in the IFLA-PAC series, which will complement the PAC's newsletter International Preservation News with reports on major preservation issues. This number of International Preservation Issues is being translated into French, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish, Croatian and Romanian.

There is an excellent glossary of preservation terms on p. 4-5. All it needs to make it perfect is three minor corrections: 1) under Cellulose, wood is said to have been the major source of papermaking fibers since 1850; it was closer to 1870 or 1880, in this country at any rate. 2) Chemical stability is defined as "Not easily decomposed or otherwise modified chemically"; but for this definition, the entry should have been Chemically stable, to match the adjectival nature of the definition. 3) Under Encapsulation, the last sentence reads, "A sheet of buffered paper or board is sometimes included to increase support." Buffered paper, however, is included not to support the document, but to retard deterioration of acidic originals within the encapsulation. So the definition should say " sometimes included to extend its life," or words to that effect. (Encapsulated objects rarely need support, even if they are brittle. It is hard to damage the enclosed paper even by deliberately crumpling the enclosure in one's hands.)

In this document, preservation is defined as "the provision of an appropriate level of security, environmental control, storage, care and handling, that will retard further chemical deterioration and protect library material from physical damage." Conservation [treatment] considerations are deliberately omitted because so few institutions world-wide can afford it.

The organization of the material is sensible and clear, as is the writing. Sometimes the coverage of a subject is skimpy, as in the section on drying wet material, where five methods are simply listed without explanation. Deacidification of newsprint is said to do little good; actually, it is known to be just as effective for newsprint as it is for fine paper, as far as strength retention goes. The section on cleaning up a mold infestation is good. Ethylene oxide is not mentioned in connection with insect or mold control; no fumigant is named specifically. The principles of integrated pest management are explained, though even fairly simple methods for anoxic treatment of insect-infested books are not.

The section on storage formats and containers for usual and odd-size materials is good.

Photographic and film-based media, audiovisual carriers and reformatting are covered on about 18 pages. There is no index, but there is a four-page bibliography, listed under 19 subject headings; a list of applicable standards; and a list of institutions that can be consulted for advice.


Managing Food and Drink in ARL Libraries, SPEC Kit 237 from the Association of Research Libraries' Systems and Procedures Exchange Center, Sept. 1998. 49 pp. $25 ARL members, $40 nonmembers, + $6 shipping & handling, prepaid. Send checks, made out to Association of Research Libraries, to ARL Publications, Dept. #0692, Washington, DC 20073-0692.

The current trend is to liberalize food and drink policies in ARL libraries because problems resulting from food and drink seem minimal or nonexistent, and are outweighed by the benefits of better public relations resulting from permitting food and drink. Forty-two percent of libraries surveyed said they are now more permissive. Only 13% said they were more restrictive.


"Practical Climate Control: A Selected, Annotated Bibliography," by Richard L. Kerschner and Jennifer Baker. Available at website: <>. The printout will be eight to 12 pages long, depending on the margins and type size. The bibliography includes 5 books, 18 papers from several conferences, and 32 articles. All are annotated.

The introduction does not take sides in the recent debate on this issue, but traces evolving points of view from the 1970s to date. The Getty Conservation Institute supported the compilation of the bibliography.


Selection of Materials for the Storage or Display of Museum Objects, by L.R. Lee and D. Thickett. British Museum Occasional Paper 111. Dept. of Conservation 1996. About $28 + shipping, from Archetype Books.

Test methods used in the British Museum testing program, with relevant background information, are shared, but not described or evaluated in depth.

A table gives the sources of pollutant gases (e.g., wool, adhesives, and timber) and the materials affected (e.g., silver, magnesium, most organic artefacts). Directions for performing the Oddy test are given, with color pictures of the silver, lead and copper coupons after exposure. Other tests are more briefly described: the azide test for sulphur-containing materials, Beilstein test for chlorine, iodide-iodate test for volatile acids, chromotropic acid test for aldehydes, and several tests for paper characteristics.

Paper tests covered are those for the aqueous extract and surface pH (based on BS2924, 1983) and the phloroglucinol test for lignin and aluminon test for alum (from a 1969 publication of the Barrow Lab). In the surface pH test described, the electrode is left in contact with the drop of water on the paper for only one minute, which is usually not long enough to get an accurate reading. The aluminon test results may be misleading, since alum is used in the production of both acid and alkaline papers today, though in much smaller quantities when rosin size is not used.


Computerization of the Archivo General de Indias: Strategies and Results, by Pedro González. Sept. 1998. $20 from the Council on Library and Information Resources, 1755 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20036. 57 pp. ISBN 1-887334-61-0.

This digitization project was launched in connection with Spain's celebration of the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America. It is distinguished by its duration (11 years and counting), its size (11 million pages of archival documents), and its purpose (preservation of heavily used documents). "From the start," the Foreword says, "the AGI was clear about its rationale for digitizing to 'preserve.' Its objective was not to create a preservation copy in digital form to replace originals, but to offer digital surrogates to reduce the handling of originals. Today, about one-third of AGI's onsite consultations are done electronically, greatly reducing exposure of original documents."

Some compromises had to be made, in view of the size of the project: The pictures were put into a separate database, for instance, separate from the text; and a low resolution (100 dpi) with 16 grayscale levels was used.


Disaster Planning and Recovery: A How-to-do-it Manual for Librarians and Archivists, by Judith Fortson. (How-to-do-it Manuals for Libraries 21) Neal-Schuman Publishers, New York & London, 1992. 181 pp. ISBN 1-55570-059-4. $39.95. Cover and text printed on acidic paper.

The author was promoted from Head of Preservation Services to Head Librarian about the time this book was published.

This is a clear, detailed, practical, well-written and well-organized book by a reader-friendly author. The part on sprinklers is especially clear and informative and will help to undo the damage done by the ALA manual in the 1960s (1969?) which advised against installation of sprinklers because they might get the books wet. Although there is a short section on cooperation among local institutions, and the Oklahoma fill-in-the-blanks disaster plan is reprinted as an appendix, the text's main emphasis is on the individual institution.

Fortunately, the details all seem necessary, and the advice is reasonable and carries authority, so readers are likely to take its advice seriously. One appendix reprints ten pages from the National Fire Protection Association handbooks for fire protection in libraries and archives--a good feature. Vendors, organizations and publications are listed in separate appendices.


"Disaster--Preparedness and Response." This article takes up the entire 8-page issue of Ojo: Connoisseurship & Conservation of Photographs for July 1992. Its range is wide: effects of fire and water, mold, mechanical damage, preparing for or avoiding a disaster (cataloging, setting salvage priorities, improving the storage environment, writing a disaster plan), and responding to a disaster (first steps, calling a conservator, initial salvage steps and freezing of water-soaked materials). Finally, there is a page of "Tips on Insurance" by a lawyer, and a list of references and "Further reading."

Ojo has been discontinued by its editor, José Orraca, due to the pressures of photographic conservation work in his private practice.


A "string" (discussion) on leaky roofs took place around September 4 on the Preservation Administrators Discussion Group (PADG) Digest <>.

It was initiated by Eleanor Cook's call for advice about how to cope with random leaks from a roof that could not be fixed for another three months or so. Responses were ingenious, varied, and sensible, most of them from people who spoke from experience. For a compilation of these responses, contact Eleanor Cook (fax 828/262-2773, e-mail; or the Abbey Publications office (fax 512/929-3995).


"Fungi Isolated from Library Materials: A Review of the Literature," by Bronislaw Zyska. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation, v. 40 #1, 1997, pp. 43-51.

The author has marshalled evidence from the literature for the existence of mold on a large scale in library materials: the number of libraries and of books in public and academic libraries of the world; a table of 84 genera of mold, and the library and archival materials they are found on (paper, art, wax seals, etc.); another table of 40 selected species isolated in various countries, each species being documented by up to a dozen references from the European literature. ("Completely unknown, however, are the fungi of library material in North and South America, Asia, Africa, and Australia.")

Zyska finds it odd that mycologists have never investigated libraries, except in Europe. He says, "Some fungi involved in the deterioration of library materials may be dangerous to librarians due to the production of mycotoxins. Cross-indexing the 84 genera and 234 species of fungi mentioned herein with the Handbook of Toxic Fungal Metabolites (1981) has shown that 44, or 19%, may be a source of different diseases caused by mycotoxins....

"So far, nobody has labelled libraries 'sick' buildings (Biodeterioration Society, 1939). More than one million librarians worldwide need help from the authorities and specialists in 'sick building syndrome' in libraries."

[Actually, interest is growing in this country and Canada, as a result of lawsuits, newspaper reports of mold-related death and disease, publications and conferences by ASHRAE and the National Institute of Building Sciences, action by government agencies, and research. Since the number of airtight buildings is increasing with the growth of population and the price of fuel, we can expect to see mold increasingly recognized as a serious public health problem regardless of the type of building affected. Museums, schools and homes have already gotten attention. Libraries and archives could be next. -Ed.]


"Low-Temperature Sterilization Alternatives in the 1990s," by Philip M. Schneider. Tappi Journal v. 77 #1, Jan. 1994, p. 115-119.

Vapor phase hydrogen peroxide, gas plasma, ozone, ionizing radiation, glutaraldehyde and peracetic acids have been commercialized as alternative technologies for low-temperature sterilization. None are viewed as a total replacement for ethylene oxide for on-site sterilization of reusable, heat-sensitive medical materials in healthcare facilities.


Integrated Pest Management, by David Pinniger and Peter Winsor. £6.00 from the Museums & Galleries Commission, 16 Queen Anne's Gate, London SW1H 9AA, UK (tel: 44 0171 233 4200; fax 0171 233 3686; e-mail <>). Prepayment required, by check, bank draft or Visa/MasterCard. 1997. ISBN 0 948630 63 9. 48 pp.


Two pest control books from the Getty's Research in Conservation series:

Order from Getty Trust Publications Distribution Center, PO Box 49659 - DPT GE27, Los Angeles, CA 90049-0659 (800/223-3431, 310/440-7333 code GE27, fax 818-779-0051).


Guide to the Identification of Common Clear Plastic Films, by R. Scott Williams, Allison T. Brooks, Stephen L. Williams and Rebecca L. Hinrichs. SPNHC Leaflet #3, Fall 1998 (a technical publication series of the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, distributed once a year with the SPNHC Newsletter as a membership benefit). 4 pp. Nonmembers may purchase this guide for $2.50 prepaid: Call Lisa Palmer at 202/786-2426, or write to SPNHC, PO Box 797, Washington, DC 20044-0797. Make check out to SPNHC.

Remarkably complete and systematic, and oriented to the needs of the collection worker; it does not call for the use of expensive equipment or methods like infrared spectroscopy, for instance, but builds on Tuck Taylor's guide (1988), incorporating information on plastic films that has become available since then.

Eight testing methods for twelve films are described. The films are: polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, polyethylene terephthalate, polyvinyl acetate, cellulose triacetate, polycarbonate, polyvinyl chloride, polyvinylidene fluoride, polyamide, and cellulose nitrate. The tests are the diphenylamine spot test, and the Beilstein, density, solubility, burn, pyrolysis and stretch-tear tests. (The burn and pyrolysis tests are not the same, because the pyrolysis test uses only heat, not ignition.) Some of the tests (e.g., those using highly concentrated sulfuric acid, hazardous solvents or high-temperature flames) require safety precautions and attention to government regulations.

There is a key in the form of a verbal flow chart for identifying films on the basis of the tests; a discussion, a 19-item bibliography, and a table summarizing the characteristics of all 12 films.


"The Future of Hand-Bookbinding," by Sam Ellenport. (Second of a two-part series.) New Library Scene v.11 #6, Dec. 1992, p. 6, 7-10. This is a good, useful summary of the big picture, especially for aspiring hand binders; tells it like it is from the economic point of view. The author is the president of the Harcourt Bindery, the largest hand bindery in the U.S.


The New Bookbinder, Journal of Designer Bookbinders, v. 18 1998. This annual volume is remarkable for the major articles by Bernard C. Middleton, Frederick Bearman and Janos Szirmai, all well-written, authoritative and substantial. The editors did them a disservice, however, by failing to proofread the references and endnotes. (There are even three typos in the table of contents.) Szirmai's notes are so poorly edited that there is one typographic error every half-inch on the average, going down the column. For the whole page, this would be 35 errors. Bearman's notes were done a bit more carefully, but Jan Storm van Leeuwen's name is misspelled "Lecuwen" and his 1989 article, "The Well-Shirted Bookbinding: On Chemise Bindings and Hulleneinbande," is repeatedly referred to as "The Well-Shined."

The color photographs of fine contemporary bindings are impressive, as usual.

The seven articles in this volume are:

Recollections of a Life in Bookbinding - Bernard C. Middleton

The Keatley Trust Collection of Fine Bindings: Part 2 - Dorothy A. Harrop

The Origins and Significance of Two Late Medieval Textile Chemise Bookbindings in the Walters Art Gallery (reprinted from the Journal of the Walters Art Gallery, 1996, p. 163-187) - Frederick Bearman

A Commission: The Client's Perspective on Paul Delrue's Binding of Hannibal - John Handley

Contemporary Bookbinding in Greece - Evangelia Tzanatatou

The Archaeology of Bookbinding and Book Restoration - Janos A. Szirmai

A Method for the Construction of a Book Shoe - Sarah Bunn


"Book Conservation: A Review of Current Practice," a report by John Ashman of "Current Trends in Book Conservation," the IPC conference in London, March 30-31, 1998. Published in Paper Conservation News, #86, June 1998, p. 8-9. The talks by 18 presenters are briefly summarized. Four of them seem especially significant:

Chris Calnan reported that interest in vegetable tanning has returned, following users' dissatisfaction with aluminum-retanned leathers and the difficulty of dyeing them; manufacturers have not met specifications and products performed badly when tested. Clare Prince reviewed five methods of reattaching detached boards: Japanese paper hinges (Etherington), joint-tacketing (Cains), rejointing with linen, grafting on new cords, and board-slotting (Clarkson). Matthew Hatton described four other methods of reattaching boards: re-coring of helical sewing structures, stabbed figure-eight new cord attachment, thread extensions, and section tackets to linings or supports. Helen Shenton reviewed trends and concerns relating to the conservation profession; her paper is published in Paper Conservation News for June, right after Ashman's.


Bücher erhalten, pflegen und restaurieren, by Wolfgang Wächter. Stuttgart: Hauswedell, 1997. ISBN 3-7762-0402-8. 278 pp, hardcover. All in clearly written German, with numerous diagrams, drawings and photographs, both black-and-white and color. The first 68 pages provide a historical and technical background on paper, microbes, insects and damage from chemical and physical factors. The other 210 pages describe and give background on the treatments provided in major libraries around the world, including the center at Leipzig (the Zentrum für Buch-Erhaltung) with its "dream machine." The treatments provided at the Leipzig center were described on p. 5 of the Abbey Newsletter.


A New Life for Old Books: Stock Preservation Services for Libraries, Archives and Museums is a video released in March 1998 by the Zentrum für Buch-Erhaltung. On the label it says, "VHS (NTSC)."

For information on its availability, contact the Center: Mommsenstrasse 7, D-04329 Leipzig [tel. 49 (3 41) 2 59 89-0; fax 2 59 89-99; website; e-mail]. This may be the best source of information in English about the services offered by the Center, though two English-language offprints from 1997 are also available from the Center. Both were written to explain the use of selected procedures there, without going into technical details.


"An Investigation in the Land of Binding," by Jean-Paul Oddos. (Keynote address given at the Fall Conference of the Library Binding Institute, 1992) New Library Scene, v.11 #6, Dec. 1992, p. 11-16. Describes the state of the library binding industry in France, Germany, Denmark, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and summarizes recent technical developments.


Roger Powell: The Compleat Binder, edited by John L. Sharpe. Bibliologia 14: Elementa ad librarum studia pertienentia. 1996. ISBN 2-503-50434-5. 341 pp. £86.00 from Brepols N.V./S.A., Steenweg op Tielen 68, B-2300 Turnhout, Belgium (tel. 32 14 40 25 00, fax 32 14 42 89 19, website

The table of contents was published in the September 1997 issue of the Abbey Newsletter, but without date of publication, phone and fax number for the publisher, or any commentary.

This festschrift was originally intended for publication on Powell's 90th birthday in 1986, but it did not appear until ten years later, on the 100th anniversary of his birth. The editor is to be congratulated for taking the project in hand and seeing it through.

There are 18 essays by the students, associates and friends of this great craft binder who laid the foundations for present-day book conservation. Among those that seem most relevant to current practice in libraries are the first four essays and one essay by the editor:

Roger Powell, 1896-1990: Reminiscences of his family and working life - Ann Donnelly and Peter Waters

The compleat binder: The arts and crafts legacy of Roger Powell - Guy Petherbridge

Annotated bibliography of works by and about Roger Powell - Chris Clarkson

Roger Powell's innovation in book conservation: The early Irish manuscripts repaired and bound 1953-1981 - Anthony Cains

Wooden books and the history of the codex: Isocrates and the Farm Account, evidence from the Egyptian desert - J. Sharpe


"Developments in the Display of Books at the Victoria and Albert Museum," by Helen Shenton. The Paper Conservator, 1997, p. 63-79.

The author joined the Victoria & Albert Museum in 1984 as a book conservator, and is now Assistant Head of Conservation there. Her coverage of all kinds of book supports for use in displays and reading rooms is detailed, well-illustrated, systematic and comprehensive. The section that begins with "Recent Developments 1995-1997" is especially interesting.


European Directory of Acid-Free and Permanent Book Paper, 1998. Third edition. July 1998. 28 pp.

This edition lists 75 types of permanent paper from 18 manufacturers in 9 European countries. It explains why the booklet is being published and why paper goes brittle, summarizes the standards (ANSI/NISO and ISO) met by the permanent papers listed, lists the papers giving color, weights etc., and reprints the UNESCO resolution on the use of permanent paper (Nov. 1997). The press release that accompanies it states that most of the new books published in Europe continue to be printed on acid paper.

Send written request for one free copy to LIBRIME, Bld L. Schmidt, 119 (box 3), B-1040 Brussels, Belgium, fax 32/2/736.82.51. ("LIBRIME" stands for "Library and Information Management in Europe.")


"Stabilization of Paper," by Jana Kolar. Paper given at the April 20-22 (1998) Interim Meeting of the ICOM-CC Working Groups on Graphic Documents and Photographic Documents. [The proceedings are not published yet. What follows is the author's abstract, edited for clarity.]

It is well known that papers are not stabilized to the same extent when different deacidification solutions are used. Understanding the main degradation pathways operating during aging under alkaline conditions is an essential step towards development of better stabilization treatments.

The main factors leading to the deterioration of deacidified paper made from bleached pulp are discussed, and their importance in the degradation of paper, are considered including pH, carbonyl groups, and transition metal content. It is proposed that stabilization should involve a pH in a more moderate range (preferably below 9), the removal of functional groups capable of initiating radical reactions, and the addition of antioxidants.

To prove the importance of high pH, calcium hydroxide and magnesium bicarbonate deacidification solutions were evaluated for their effects on the aging stability of bleached cellulose pulp, handmade paper and modern book-paper, as well as mechanical paper.

In addition, deacidified paper samples were treated with solutions of glucose, EDTA, DTPA, phytate, cyclam, iodide and hindered phenols. The results of subsequent aging experiments are discussed.

It is observed that pronounced stabilization of deacidified paper toward oxidation can be achieved by either sodium borohydride reduction treatment or by the addition of potassium iodide to the deacidified paper.


NEDLIB News Sheet, issue #1, July 1998, was announced on the ICA/CIA list July 3, and is available on its website: <>.

NEDLIB stands for Networked European Deposit Library, a project organized to ensure that digital publications of the present can be used now and in the future. It is run by a consortium that includes nine European national libraries, a national archive and three main publishers. The editor of the news sheet is Titia van der Werf, who can be reached by e-mail at <>.

By September 1998 they expected to have mapped their requirements for a deposit system for electronic publications into a high-level design (the generic architecture). It will be described in the next news sheet, which should be out in February. This issue contains reports of workshops on digital object identifiers and preservation strategies; the Multimedia Management System developed for Die Deutsche Bibliothek; the report of an RLG working group; an April 1998 UK study on a strategic policy framework for creating and preserving digital resources, with 13 recommendations; and an announcement of a new eLib project called CEDARS, whose aim seems to be identical with that of NEDLIB.


"The Digital Dark Ages: Challenges in the Preservation of Electronic Information," by Terry Kuny. International Preservation News #17, May 1998, p. 8-13.

The author is a consultant to the UDT Core Programme at the National Library of Canada. His IFLA paper on preservation of electronic information is briefly summarized by Jean Whiffin in v. 21 #8 of the Abbey Newsletter, on p. 131. This is probably that same paper. In it he says, "...We are moving into an era where much of what we know today, much of what is coded and written electronically, will be lost forever.... Enormous amounts of digital information are already lost forever."

On the last four pages he discusses what must be done about the situation: Contribute to research and development and evaluate preservation solutions, do digital triage, develop rescue operations, cope with multiple document formats, manage rights and access controls for electronic objects, promote preservation, work together, and do digital preservation as a public good, even if it is a thankless task.


Digitizing Historical Pictorial Collections for the Internet, by Stephen E. Ostrow. Council on Library and Information Resources, 1755 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC, 20036. Feb. 1998. $20 prepaid. ISBN 1-887334-57-2. 36 pages.

This report is excellent, complete and clear, covering the following topics, among others:

how the use of digitized surrogates can differ from, as well as complement, the use of original primary resource materials;

criteria for selecting items and collections for digital conversion;

associated issues raised by providing digitized access over the Internet, including fair use, reproduction rights, and the creation of bibliographical records for digital images; and

implications for preservation.


"Aspects of Polyester Degradation: Motion Picture Film and Videotape Materials," by M. Edge, M. Mohammadian, M. Hayes, N.S. Allen, K. Brems and K. Jones. Journal of Imaging Science and Technology 36, Jan/Feb. 1992, p. 13-20.

Accelerated aging tests showed that film used for movies and video was very resistant to aging because of high crystallinity (55%) and a tendency to crosslink rather than degrade; but normal polyester film is not crystalline (only 1%) and degrades rapidly in high pH and tempera--ture. [From Abstract 2127 in Art and Archaeology Tech--nical Abstracts, v. 29 #2, 1992]


SGML as a Framework for Digital Preservation and Access, by James Coleman and Don Willis. Commission on Preservation and Access (contact the Council on Library and Information Resources, 1400 16th St., NW, Suite 740, Washington, DC 20036, 202/939-3400, fax 939-3407, e-mail <>). July 1997. ISBN 1-887334-54-8. 47 pages.

Although this booklet was obviously written in a spirit of helpfulness, it is dense and hard to understand. To this reader (Editor McCrady), it seems anything but reader-friendly. There is no index (a feature of a publication that is essential for the non-specialist), and no glossary of the undefined terms that make up a large percentage of each sentence and paragraph. In the first 13 pages, there is no reference to the applications or purposes the authors had in mind.

This is not to say that this publication should have been written at an elementary level, only that it will probably be more comprehensible to people who are already familiar with the subject matter, who work with large systems, or who have someone to tutor them as they go along.


"The Degradation of Cellulose with Ferric and Cupric Ions in a Low-Acid Medium," by Marina Bicchieri and Sabrina Pepa. Restaurator, 1996, v.17 #3, pp. 165-183.

This paper is technical and detailed, but well-written, and illustrated with equations, tables and diagrams to show the effect of iron and copper in alkaline paper. Two conclusions are significant for conservators as they plan treatments for paper containing either metal. First, iron and copper degrade paper by two different mechanisms: iron acts as a catalyst for the cleavage of the cellulose 1-4-b-glucosidic bond, whereas copper ions catalyze the oxidation on the anhydroglucose ring. Second, the use of strong deacidification solutions for paper with copper content may endanger previously oxidized paper, by causing alkaline hydrolysis. The borane tert-butylamine complex repairs damage caused by oxidation, and bleaches the paper as well.


"Construction Paper: A Brief History of Impermanence," by Joan Irving. Book and Paper Group Annual 16, 1997, p. 47-54.

Since artists sometimes like to put their drawings on construction paper, conservators of art on paper have to know its history and nature. What were sometimes called "colored school papers" began to be made in the early 20th century. They were made of groundwood, colored with aniline dyes. As the papers aged, they faded and became brittle. Since aniline dyes are sensitive to water, alcohol, alkali, light, and sometimes to high relative humidity, treatment options are limited, and the emphasis must be on protection from physical stress, from high relative humidity, water, and light, and even from contact with buffered board or paper.


"Degradation of Cellulose at the Wet/Dry Interface. II. An Approach to the Identification of the Oxidation Compounds," by Anne-Laurence Dupont. Restaurator, 1996, v.17 #3, pp. 145-164.

The first part of this study report was published in v. 17 #1, pp. 1-21 of Restaurator, and was reviewed in v. 20 #7, on p. 10b of the Abbey Newsletter. It addressed significant questions, and was quite technical and thorough. The author found that tidelines are not always visible, but may become visible (and insoluble) during aging. They consist of cleaved groups, as well as oxidized cellulose with new end-groups.

In this part of her report, she evaluates three different methods of identifying the oxidation compounds: thin-layer chromatography, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry. (Other analytical methods show promise.) She reviews earlier work, starting with Bone (1934), and notes that all of them tried to identify the brown products formed.

She was able to identify several degradation compounds from the tidelines, including monosaccharides as D-glucose, D-arabinose, D-galactose, disaccharides as cellobiose and uronic acids as D-glucuronic acid, D-gluconic acid and its δ-lactone. The brown color observed could be due to conjugated systems.


"Aqueous Deacidification--with Calcium or with Magnesium?" by Helmut Bansa. Restaurator 1998, p. 1-40. A very thorough study, with plentiful data presented in graphs and tables, showing changes in qualities of various papers washed in tap or demineralized water, and deacidified with calcium or magnesium carbonate, then aged in different ways. (Strong old rag paper does not always benefit from aqueous deacidification; in fact, magnesium bicarbonate weakens it, and calcium bicarbonate seems to reduce its aging stability.) Conclusion: "There is no clear superiority of one aqueous deacidification method using earth alkaline carbonate."

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