The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 23, Number 1



"Reaching Critical Mass: Off-Site Storage in the Digital Age," by Ron Chepesiuk. American Libraries, April 1999, p. 40-43.

This is headed by an editor's lead-in: "Research collections have seen the paperless society, and it is a figment of someone's imagination." Collections continue to expand at an increasing rate. Whereas in a previous age the solution might have been to build another library, or rent out space in the same city, or put stacks where readers used to sit, today's solution is to build preservation-friendly storage spaces.

The remote-storage option was worked out in 1985, 14 years ago, by Dill and Company, for Harvard University. They began the practice of storing by size on deep shelves, and retrieving books using bar codes and materials-handling equipment.

It is unlikely that availability of digitized library materials will decrease the need for the printed version. Experience so far has shown that demand only increases. Winston Tabb of the Library of Congress is quoted as saying, "We don't see that [a solution to the library space problem as a result of digitization] here at the Library of Congress. On the contrary, copyright receipts continue to go up and people continue to publish in print form. We expect these developments to continue indefinitely."


Library Storage Facilities, Management, and Services, a SPEC Kit compiled by Jan Merrill-Oldham and Jutta Reed-Scott. ARL (Association of Research Libraries), 1999. ISSN 0160 3582. 193 pp. Order from ARL Distribution Center, PO Box 531, Annapolis Junction, MD 20701-0531 (301/362-8196, fax 301/206-9789, This is a new address for the ARL Distribution Center.

This is a collection of reports, manuals and other information from 58 libraries that either have or will have remote storage facilities--an ideal source of information for libraries that are outgrowing their space and planning for new housing for the collections. The last page is a list of web sites for ten of the facilities.


"Burst Water Main Deluges Boston Public Library." American Libraries, Oct. 1998, p. 12. (Most of the information that follows, however, came from a May 18 presentation at a brief seminar in Fort Worth on the effect of fire, smoke, water and mold on valuable books and records, under the sponsorship of Disaster Recovery Services, Inc. The company can be contacted at 817/535-6793.)

A 100-year-old 42" water main burst last August next to the Boston Public Library, shortly after midnight, sending 20" to 30" of water through the library's two buildings. This was a catastrophe, made worse by the fact that the library had no preservation librarian and no effective disaster plan. A plan was developed in 1991, going by the ARL guidelines, but it was not implemented because it was thought to be too expensive. (Ironically, the cost of flood recovery so far has been $10 million.)

Most of the 300,000 wet items in the basement had to be thrown out, and by the time the city was finished going through its bid process, the rest were so damaged by mold and water that 30% of the 11,000 that were freeze-dried were unusable when they were returned, because they were misshapen, blocked and/or moldy. Half of their 5 million microfiche were damaged, and they lost 20% (the diazo is generally usable but the silver halide fiche are now useless because the emulsion stuck together).

The emphasis of the seminar was on prevention and disaster planning. Gregor Trinkaus-Randall gave them good help with general prioritizing; NEDCC helped; a company donated 25,000 milk crates (but Rescubes were handier for packing wet books). Other vendors and institutions donated crates and money.


"Cleaning Books in the Bodleian Library," by Silke Koreck. Paper Conservation News, June 1999, p. 12.

Dust on books was the major problem in the galleries of the Old Library, because of the enormous amount of stone dust created four years ago when electrical work was done for installation of computers. About 13,500 quarto and folio books were systematically cleaned using carefully selected equipment and methods described in this article. (The HEPA filters were 99.997% efficient and were maintained by Conservation by Design Ltd.)


Care of Photographic, Moving Image and Sound Collections 20-24 July 1998, York. Conference papers edited by Susie Clark. Published by IPC, 1999. ISBN 0-9533229-1-2. 176 pp, £15 + p&p to IPC & Society of Archivists members; £20 + p&p others.

There were about 30 papers, given in the following sessions. Most sessions had 2-5 papers. The full list of papers is in the June Paper Conservation News.

Plastic Supports and Risk Assessment

Digitization in the Care of Photographs (six papers)

The Conservation of Digital Output

Care of Photographs (General)

Photographic Conservation Techniques


Care of Film Collections

Care of Mixed Collections

Preservation of Modern Media (only one paper)


"Secrecy in Science," by Amy Crumpton. Professional Ethics Report (AAAS & the Scientific Freedom, Responsibility and Law Program), v. XII #1, Winter 1999, p. 1, 7-8. ISSN: 1045-8808. To order a subscription, contact the Professional Society Ethics Group, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1200 New York Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20005 (202/326-6792; fax 202/289-4950; e-mail Back issues are online at

Professional Ethics Report is a modern newsletter; you can tell by the copyright notice: "This newsletter may be reproduced without permission as long as proper acknowledgement is given.

The topic of secrecy in science may seem far removed from the world of preservation and conservation, but we have seen recently how developments like the digital revolution, national elections, the fortunes of universities, and the growing concentration of ownership in industry can affect preservation efforts. It makes sense to stay informed about widespread trends like this.

"Secrecy in Science" is the cover story for this issue. Here are some excerpts:

"A new form of secrecy is taking hold within science, raising concerns that openness and sharing of information is becoming the exception rather than the norm among academic scientists. Increasingly, proprietary interests in scientific processes are becoming more common. Such strictures may place many academic scientists in professional dilemmas, caught between contractual duties to funders and ethical obligations to other scientists or the public at large.

"The new secrecy and its implications for science was the subject of a colloquium, 'Secrecy in Science: Exploring University, Industry, and Government Relationships,' sponsored by AAAS and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The colloquium, convened on March 29 at MIT, provided a forum to expand public discussion and assembled sixteen speakers from a wide range of perspectives....

"It is not uncommon, of course, for scientists to keep results close to their vests in order to be first in claiming a new discovery and reap institutional and professional accolades. Beyond a few highly publicized cases, however, little is known about the number of academic scientists who may be experiencing professional dilemmas because of restrictive controls on communication and sharing of research results.

"...Blumenthal, et al., reported that 20% of 2,052 life science faculty they surveyed indicated that publication of their research results had been delayed by more than 6 months at least once mostly for protection of proprietary value [i.e., the 'trade secrets' of the companies funding their research].... Thirty-four percent responded that they were denied access to research results of products from other university scientists."


AICCM National Newsletter No. 70, March 1999, devotes six pages to the topic of mold. An "Interview with a Mycologist" is on p. 5-8, and "Report on Mould in the Seminario Barbarigo Library, Montefiascone, Italy," by David Parker of the Public Record Office in London, is on p. 3-4.

The interview with the mycologist (Alisa Hocking of CSIRO) is helpful because it involves a real expert and includes a great many questions, e.g., "What is involved in your job?" and "Could you describe the basic types and lifecycle(s) of mould species?" but the answers are not very long or specific.

David Parker's story of the mold in Montefiascone is from 1993. It concerns a few books that were badly affected by a flood from the main bathroom above the library, but which had completely dried out by the time he got there. He took safety precautions for the students who worked on the books, and set up a separate "mold room" for storing the books until they could be cleaned "al fresco."


"Fungal and Related Exposures," by Eckardt Johanning. Reprinted from Occupational Medicine Secrets (sic); copyright 1999 by Hanley & Belfus, Inc., Philadelphia, PA. A handout at the Bioaerosols Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY, Sept. 1998.

The author is the doctor who diagnosed the mold-related illnesses of the staff members at the New Museum of Art in New York City (Abbey Newsletter, Oct. 1994, p. 68). His little 11-page booklet is written in question-and-answer form, and succinctly and accurately provides a bird's-eye view of the effect of mold on human health--with details. He defines fungi as "eukaryote organisms with cell walls; they lack chlorophyll and reproduce sexually or asexually (by means of spores).... There are more than 100,00 species of fungi, but only a few hundred are of medical importance because of their potential for infection, allergy, and toxicity." He lists eight species including Stachybotrys chartarum , that are commonly found in damp buildings, and the locations where they are often found.

A list of diagnostic categories (e.g., infectious disease and toxic reaction) shows that mold is not the only source of building-related diseases; dust mites, bacteria, viruses, pesticides, glass fibers and many other factors can make people sick.

Question #16 is "What are mycotoxins?" The answer is that they are metabolites produced by fungi that have toxic effects on both animals and humans. Twelve mycotoxins and types of mycotoxins are listed, with the fungi that produce them, and the target organs, which include most or all of the organs and systems in the body. He evaluates the available diagnostic tests, describes sampling for bioaerosols, including fungi, and concludes with a 49-item bibliography.


Exhibit Conservation Guidelines, written & developed by Toby Raphael with major contributions from Nancy Davis and Kevin Brookes. Produced by the Division of Conservation, National Park Service; available from the Harpers Ferry Historical Association (800/821-5206, e-mail: Price not given on the flyer distributed at AIC in St. Louis. A CDthat will be made available by the National Center for Preservation, Technology and Training is being beta-tested.

The Guidelines cover exhibit planning, general design, case design and fabrication, and installation.

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