The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 23, Number 2



"A Model for Assessing Preservation Needs in Libraries," by Naomi Dungworth and Will Wakeling. NPO Journal, Jan. 1999, p. 11-12.

The British Library Research & Innovation Center funded a project at Loughborough University to develop this model for surveying paper-based and photographic materials in libraries. The model will be used to help assess national preservation needs and priorities.

The project team reviewed the current state of the art in the USA, Canada, Europe and Australia, as well as the UK. It interviewed the staff who had done surveys in archives, museums and heritage organizations as well as academic, national, public and special libraries, and tested a draft model on 16 types and sizes of library and archival collections in 1998. It interviewed experienced staff and did small-scale tests in collections. The project report was submitted to the BLRIC in August 1998. Software (like Calipr) needs to be developed and made generally available, and training procedures have to be set up. The NPO plans to develop a National Register of Collection Strengths and Preservation Status.

The report, A Model for Assessing Preservation Needs in Libraries, is available as British Library Research and Innovation Report 125. It may be purchased as photocopy or microfiche from the British Library Thesis Service, BLDSC, Boston Spa, Wetherby, West Yorkshire LS23 7BQ, UK. A version for archives is planned.


ARL: A Bimonthly Report on Research Library Issues and Actions from ARL, CNI, and SPARC. #204, June 1999.

The first six pages of this issue consist of nine commentaries by individual deans, directors, university librarians, and professors on the pending Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and its potential stifling effect on distance education. A website carrying the Copyright Office's Report on Copyright and Digital Distance Education is announced on p. 6.


"Teamwork for Preventive Conservation," a report by Shad Mehmet, British Library Conservation Department. NPO Journal, Jan. 1999, p. 10-11.

The National Preservation Office invited senior British Library staff from all departments to a small seminar at the Ulster Museum, to introduce the concept of teamwork for preventive conservation. Speakers were Helen Forde, Head of Preservation at the Public Record Office; Mike Western, Head of Preservation and Conservation at the BL; Jim McGreevy, Keeper of Conservation at the Ulster Museum; Neal Putt, coordinator of Preventive Conservation for ICCROM; and Mirjam Foot (Preservation, BL).

Helen Forde said the Public Record Office has a preservation coordinator in each department, and quarterly meetings for all staff using videos and lectures on interesting and relevant preservation subjects [much like the Library of Congress does]. Mike Western described the major preservation functions performed at the British Library (environment, storage management, security, disaster planning and collections conservation), and said they planned to start making custom boxes using an automated box cutting system. The BL is also considering a mass deacidification program as part of the acquisition process (60% of new acquisitions are on acidic paper). Two speakers described what can be done with a team approach for preservation projects in museums (ICCROM has a Team Work for Preventive Conservation project, funded in part by the European Commission's Raphael Project). Throughout the seminar, training was identified as a key issue for development of a "preventive preservation" culture.


RAP (Regional Alliance for Preservation) is a quarterly newsletter published by Amigos for the field services of 14 cooperative conservation centers in the U.S., funded by NEH. The editor is Tom Clareson at Amigos (800/843-8482; fax 972-991-6061; e-mail:; web site:

From 1997 till December 1998, the newsletter was published for the five NEH-funded centers with field services that deal with library and archive materials; then the scope was expanded to include the museum- and historical center-related centers' field services. (See map elsewhere in this issue.) Copies can be sent out on request; contact Tom Clareson at the above number.

The Summer 1999 issue is the third one with the expanded coverage. It has eight pages. Some of the headlines/titles are:

First Lady Announces $30 Million in Save America's Treasures Grants

Field Services Contacts (a page that lists directors, addresses, telephone and fax numbers, e-mail and Web sites for all 14 organizations)

Resources for Preservation Planning (federal funding, consultants, training/workshops)

Saving Treasures on a Local, State, and Regional Basis (news from the Upper Midwest, Colorado and Pennsylvania)

News from the Regional Centers (three news items from NEDCC on its preservation manual and workshops; an item on Amigos's NEH grant; and an announcement of CCAHA's series of disaster workshops)

The Upper Midwest Conservation Association Receives Continued NEH Support...

New SOLINET Preservation Leaflet (Reformatting Services )

The Textile Conservation Center Preserves a Silk Dress for a First Lady


The Future of the Past: Preservation in American Research Libraries, by Abby Smith. Council on Library and Information Resources, Washington, DC, April 1999. ISBN 1-887334-67-X. 16 pp.

The foreword, by Deanne Marcum, President of CLIR, is reprinted here with permission:

"This is a stock-taking report--a summary of challenges and accomplishments in preservation efforts since the early 1960s. For preservation specialists, the message is not new. But in our work with scholarly groups, we have found little knowledge of the library community's preservation agenda. Preservation of library resources is a vital matter to both scholars and librarians, and this is our attempt to provide a common backdrop against which further work can proceed.

"At a time when digitization is posed as the solution to a wide range of problems, we believe it is important to review the lessons learned from a national, coordinated preservation microfilming program. The library community has held different views about the best course of action to preserve brittle books, and the controversies have been public and sometimes contentious. Yet the progress in preserving the information recorded on the embrittled imprints of the past century and a half has been remarkable. In part as a result of the work done to address the brittle book problem, guidelines for preservation of library resources are well established and followed by virtually all libraries in the United States, as well as by other countries.

"As we begin to address the preservation challenges presented by twentieth-century media, we are once again faced with decisions about how to attack a far-reaching problem. Should we deal with non-print media preservation in a national program? How do we select the materials that will be preserved? Where will the resources come from? How will scholars be involved?"


Architectural Photoreproductions: A Manual for Identification and Care, by El�onore Kissell and Erin Vigneau. Co-published by the New York Botanical Garden Library and Oak Knoll Press (310 Delaware St., New Castle, DE 19720 [302/328-7232; fax 302/328-7274; e-mail]). Paperback, 138 pp. ISBN 1-884718-62-0. $65 + shipping. Available in England from St. Paul's Bibliographies, Folkestone.

Twelve different photographic processes used in North American architectural practice from 1860 to about 1960 are described. Proper identification of the process used to create an architectural record is essential for good storage, access, exhibition, duplication and conservation. The publisher says, "One of [the] manual's important features is the Flowchart, an outline using a series of questions leading the reader to a preliminary identification. Each process is described in a separate chapter with numerous color illustrations of general and magnified views of selected photoreproductions. Each chapter includes sections on how to identify a print, trade names and synonyms, the history and use of the printing process, how a print was manufactured, and degradation and storage."


Packing and Shipping Paper Artifacts, a 4-page Technical Leaflet from Northeast Document Conservation Center in Andover, MA 01810-1494 (978/470-1010; fax 978/475-6021).

The opening paragraph warns against shipping when other alternatives are available: "The best way to transport an irreplaceable document, book, or work of art on paper is to pack it securely and deliver it yourself." It recites the various kinds of accidents and stresses, including being left out in the rain, that can damage objects in transit. The rest of the leaflet covers all angles for shipping objects that cannot be hand-carried. Headings are:

Insurance in Transit

Shipping Options (U.S. Postal Service Registered Mail, Air Freight or Air Express, Fine Arts Shipping Services, UPS and Federal Express)

Packing Flat Paper Objects (First Wrapping, Second Wrapping, Cushioning, Shipping Containers, and Crates)

Procedures for Special Kinds of Materials (Books, Fragile or Delicate Objects, Objects Framed under Glass, and Rolled Objects).


Doug Nishimura listed nine articles on environmental control and cold storage May 10 on the Conservation DistList. Seven of them appeared in the ASHRAE Journal and can be found in Conservation OnLine <> as well as in the Journal's website <>. They include Paul Banks' "What Makes Records Deteriorate" (reported on p. 112 of the last 1998 issue of this newsletter), and other articles on HVAC at Colonial Williamsburg, air distribution for large spaces, filters, temperature and RH effects on collections, what humidity does and why, and HVAC for historic buildings.

The other two articles are on cold storage, and can be found on Henry Wilhelm's website <>. One of them is an 18-slide presentation that Mark McCormick-Goodhart made at the National Archives in March 1999; select the word "Read" to see the slide presentation, and "View" to get the other article. (You have to download Adobe Acrobat Reader to read them, but it's free.)


"The Sick Building Syndrome," a 60 Minutes program videotape interview with Joanne Callahan and other Environmental Protection Agency employees, which aired February 7, 1999.

While working as a lawyer in the EPA headquarters building for about seven months in 1990-91, Ms. Callahan suffered multiple symptoms, including facial rash, cognitive problems, disorientation, memory loss, excruciating pain, and migraines; she also developed asthma. Stachybotrys chartarum and other pathogenic molds were found in airborne sampling in the building, which had had roof and pipe leaks over many years. Ventilation system problems have been reported and employees have also been exposed to renovation materials. EPA's designated representative acknowledged that they had an indoor air problem.

Ms. Callahan receives regular treatment, although she continues to suffer the effects of her exposures. [Some of this information comes from our interview of Ms. Callahan, rather than from the 60 Minutes videotape.]

This videotape might be useful for an organization that is dealing with a "sick building" or has employees working on mold cleanup. Since the health hazards of mold are commonly underrated, the video might have a place in a health and safety program for staff or members. It can be ordered from CBS Video, 19 Gregory Drive, So. Burlington, VT 05403 (800/542-5621) for $37.78 postpaid.


"Pre Move Packaging of a Library Collection," by Mary Cox (General Preservation Services Manager, State Library of Victoria). AICCM National Newsletter No. 70, March 1999, p. 25.

Some 75,000 books and bound serials had to be moved out of a reading room in the State Library, so that the room could be renovated. A condition assessment showed that most of the materials would need enclosures for protection during the move. Three options were chosen for them: box, shrink-wrap or bag with support. Fourteen people, working in four teams, finished the job in 14 weeks. The materials and systematic methods used are described. 2D3


Disaster Recovery: Salvaging Photograph Collections, by Debra Hess Norris. Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts, Philadelphia, 1998. 6 pages. $3.50 from CCAHA, 264 South 23rd St., Philadelphia, PA 19103 (215/545-0613; fax 215/735-9313;; Discounts on orders of 2 or more.

Gives recommendations and practical guidance on the recovery of water-damaged photographic objects. Topics include recovery options, special considerations and salvage priorities, initial steps, recommendations for air drying, recommendations and precautions for freezing, smoke and soot damage, and additional sources of information.


"Vacuum-Packing and its Implications for Library, Archive and Related Materials," by Nicholas Hadgraft and Stuart Welch. Paper Conservation News #89, March 1999, p. 12-14.

Last year a new method of drying wet books was used on seventy leather-bound books that had been damaged by water and mold from a leaking drainpipe in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England. Some of the books had been seriously weakened, so Nicholas Hadgraft looked for a drying method that would be gentler than freeze drying, and decided to use one that Stuart Welch had been experimenting with, vacuum packing with absorbent materials. For comparison, he sent some books for freeze-drying.

Welch's method kept the gelatine size from blocking around the edges of the pages and allowed nearly half of the books to be returned to the shelf after three or four days of drying, cleaning and stabilizing. The leather did not shrink off the cover boards, the boards did not become distorted, and the thread did not pull through the wet paper.

The rest of the volumes required either minimal paper conservation and board reattachment, or, for the most deteriorated volumes, boxing without immediate treatment.

The authors describe the procedure: books are vacuum-packed individually in plastic, with blotting paper or other desiccant which is changed periodically. Modern books with coated paper can be inspected briefly at these times to see if the pages are blocking; if so, pages can be easily separated. A number of tests were done to confirm that this method does prevent blocking of coated paper. [One is reminded of the method used by volunteers for drying books by hand after the St. Petersburg fire--wrapping them in a blanket or something similar, with plenty of dry sawdust.]

Conservation by Design Ltd. has an ad at the bottom of page 13 in this issue, describing the process and the equipment and supplies they offer for carrying it out (including Ageless oxygen scavengers, Ageless RP for removing moisture and corrosive gases, and transparent vacuum pouches for the books). It says, "Vacuum sealed wet objects quickly transfer moisture to any dry absorbent material such as blotting paper, until they reach an equilibrium. At this stage the bag is opened, the wet blotter replaced by dry blotter and the bag sealed again. This process is repeated until the object, book etc. is dry. . . . Because the wet object is held in an oxygen free package no mould grows and the vacuum holds the object's shape while drying." The web site is


"Digital Imaging for Conservation Documentation," by Timothy Vitale. WAAC Newsletter v. 21 #1, Jan. 1999, p. 14. (This summarizes a paper given at the WAAC annual meeting.)

Flatbed scanners, film scanners, digital cameras, and printers (two of each) were evaluated for their suitability as replacements for photographic treatment records. This report covers all technical aspects (backing up, migration, compatibility and "paths for producing conservation documentation," e.g., direct to digital camera), as well as prices, permanence and recent research.


"The Census of Medieval Bookbinding Structures to 1500 in British Libraries," by Jenny Sheppard. NPO Journal (National Preservation Office, British Library), Jan. 1999, p. 3-4.

Censuses of medieval bindings are going on in Italy, France and England, not just because conservators are concerned, but because scholars and curators feel a growing need to include structure, in addition to cover decoration, in descriptions of manuscripts. They also see structures as part of the history of the book, and are concerned about early bindings that have been discarded over the centuries. Comparison of local techniques and practices may also help to identify volumes by time and place. A booklet describing the plan of the census has been sent out to libraries in order to identify the centers that have early bindings in their collections, and over half the recipients support the plan. As of January 1999, there was one part-time person working on the project. For information write to the Project Coordinator, Dr. Jenny Sheppard, Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge CB3 0BU, UK. Fax: +44 1223 332178.


"Conservation Treatment of Transparent Papers: A Survey," by Konstanze Bachmann. A presentation at the Book and Paper Conservation conference in Ljubljana, Slovenia, 3-5 July, 1996. Pp. 235-247. The Proceedings volume (in English and Slovenian) is edited by Jedert Vodopivec and Natasa Golob; $65 from the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia, 100 Ljubljana, Zvezdarska 1, Slovenia (tel. +386 61 1251 222; fax +386 61 216 551).

Konstanze Bachmann has been recording and advancing the art of treating transparent papers for years. Transparent papers (e.g., glassine and vellum) have been used for copies, preliminary designs, and architectural drawings and tracings, and are usually brittle, fragile and discolored. Before they can be safely handled or flattened, they sometimes need treatment--but the usual procedures (washing in water, mending with paste or PVA, surface cleaning with erasers, even humidification) are very likely to damage or distort the paper, because it reacts so strongly to water. Careful testing and special procedures that use nonaqueous solvents and a minimum of water have to be used.

Papers that have been made transparent by overbeating react somewhat differently to these treatment procedures than papers that have been made transparent by impregnation with a variety of oils, gums and varnishes. Since "transparentizers" like these have been used at least since the 14th century, they come in many varieties, and are often discolored and a source of embrittlement. Fortunately, modern transparent papers are more often made by overbeating than by transparentizing. Treatment methods used in various leading conservation laboratories are described, and those preferred by the author are summarized in the conclusion section.

Some references from the 44-item bibliography are:

K. Bachmann: "The Treatment of Transparent Papers: A Review," in The Book and Paper Group Annual, 2/1983, pp. 3-13.

M. Bicchieri, P. Brusa, & G. Pasquariello: "Tracing Paper: Methods of Study and Restoration," in Restaurator, 14/1993, pp. 217-233.

V. Flamm, C. Hofmann, S. Dobrusskin, G. Banik: "Conservation of Tracing Papers," in ICOM Committee for Conservation, 9th Triennial Meeting, Dresden 1990, pp. 463-467.

T. Jirat-Wasiutynski: "Sprayed Poly (Vinyl Acetate) Heat-Seal Adhesive Lining of Pen and Iron Gall Ink Drawings on Tracing Paper," in Journal of the American Institute for Conservation, 19/1980, pp. 96-102.

J.S. Mills: "Analysis of Some 19th Century Tracing Paper Impregnants and 18th Century Globe Varnishes," in New Directions in Paper Conservation, Preprints of the Institute of Paper Conservation 10th Anniversary Conference, Oxford 1986, pp. D62-D63.

D. Van Der Reyden, C. Hofmann, M. Baker: "Some Effects of Solvents on Transparent Papers," in Institute of Paper Conservation Conference, Manchester, 1992, pp. 177-206.


"Preparing for the Apocalypse: Using the Sequential Solvent Technique to Remove Tape Stains from Paper," by Shelly Smith. WAAC Newsletter v. 21 #1 Jan. 1999. p. 12-13. (This summarizes a presentation at the WAAC annual meeting.)

This brief note compares the speed with which two techniques for stain removal worked. A mixture of five solvents that had removed some component of the stain was used with a suction disc in a 1-cm square area; it took 35 minutes. The same five solvents used sequentially from most polar (ethanol) to least polar (xylene) and back again took only 15 minutes. 3B2.35


Paper Comes to the North. Sources and Trade Routes of Paper in the Baltic Sea Region 1350-1700, by N.J. Lindberg. Marburg, IPH, 1998. 100 + 200 p. (IPH Monograph Series, 2.) Cost: DM 118 (paperback); DM 163 (cloth), from IPH (International Association of Paper Historians); Ludwig Ritterpusch, Secretary/Treasurer; Wehrdaer Strasse 135; D-35041 Marburg; Germany (tel and fax +49 (06421) 8 17 58).

This was announced in the Gazette du Livre M�d�eval for Autumn 1998, without annotation.


Preserving the Whole: A Two-Track Approach to Rescuing Social Science Data and Metadata is a report by the Digital Library Federation on a project carried out by the Social Science Library and Social Science Statistical Laboratory at Yale. Its purpose was to explore ways of salvaging Roper survey data from the 1970s, which is stored in column binary format, now totally obsolete--but so well documented that there are numerous ways to migrate the files to other formats, and even to read them in their native format.

The authors make the important observation that data sets will be indecipherable, regardless of the file format in which they are stored, if no effort is made to preserve their codebooks (the documentation that relates the numeric data to meaningful fields and values in information).

Preserving the Whole will be available on the Web site of the digital Library Federation,, and in print from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) for $15 prepaid, including postage and handling. Checks should be made payable to CLIR and mailed to CLIR Publication Orders, 1755 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20036-2124. Credit card orders may be placed by calling CLIR at 202/939-4750, sending a fax to 202/939-4765, or sending e-mail to


"XML and the Second-Generation Web," by Jon Bosak and Tim Bray. Scientific American, May 1999, p. 89-93.

Extensible Markup Language, or XML, was completed in early 1998 by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), and has spread "like wildfire" through science and into industries ranging from manufacturing to medicine. The authors explain clearly what XML has over its predecessors, SGML and HTML, and predict that its use will make the Web noticeably more responsive. SGML (Standard General Markup Language) is too general, and is more complex than most Web browsers can handle. HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), which was defined using SGML, is easy to learn, but too concerned with the appearance of the page, and inflexible because it lacks tags for many of the types of data that need to be transmitted between locations. (Tags are codes that identify the type of data being transmitted, e.g. <H1>.)

This is an ideal article for neophytes to cut their teeth on, if they want to understand markup languages and how they work. Although it appears in Scientific American, it is addressed to all who will be affected by this new markup language, rather than to technical specialists. Here is an example of the clarity of their language:

"The unifying power of XML arises from a few well-chosen rules. One is that tags almost always come in pairs. Like parentheses, they surround the text to which they apply. And like quotation marks, tag pairs can be nested inside one another to multiple levels. . . . Another source of XML's unifying strength is its reliance on a new standard called Unicode, a character-encoding system that supports intermingling of text in all the world's major languages."

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