The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 23, Number 3



Securing Our Dance Heritage: Issues in the Documentation and Preservation of Dance, by Catherine J. Johnson and Allegra Fuller Snyder. July 1999. Council on Library and Information Resources, 1755 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20036. $15.00 prepaid.

The Dance Heritage Coalition (DHC) is an alliance of seven major institutions (libraries, special collections, festivals) that have important dance collections and cooperate in preserving and making accessible the records of dance. The publisher asked the DHC to share its experience and perspective with a broader public, and the result is this 42-page illustrated publication. It covers the suppression of, or prejudice against, dance in America up to the middle of this century; the difficulty of recording dance movements and the intricacy of the notation, and the various fragile formats in which it was recorded. Dancing was not consistently included as one of the arts until recently: NEA did not include dance as an area for support until 1967.

The three sections of the booklet are Documentation, Access and Preservation. The four chapters in the Preservation section are: The Multiformat Morass; Environment, Environment, Environment; Preventive Preservation; and Turning "Future Shock" into Future Plans.


System of Low-Temperature, Low-Humidity Preservation Storage and Accelerated Retrieval of Books and Other Papers. [Patent # 5,537,760] Inventor: Donald K. Sebera. Assignee: The United States of America as represented by the Librarian of Congress. Filed Nov. 22, 1994.

The problem with storage of library materials at temperatures near freezing has always been the necessity of "staging" the removal of the materials to prevent condensation of moisture on them in the warm air of the reading room. (Photographs and coated paper are especially vulnerable to damage that can result as their moisture content climbs.) Sebera's patent is not the only solution to this problem that has been proposed, but it is worth consideration as an alternate method. The abstract reads:

In a combined system or method for extending the life expectancy of an article of cellulosic material such as a book or other paper, the book or other paper is put in preservation storage at subnormal temperature and subnormal humidity. The resulting loss of flexibility of the paper is remedied upon withdrawal of the book or other paper from storage through its accelerated simultaneous exposure to a partial vacuum of about 5 to 50 torr and to water vapor; a partial vacuum of about 12 to about 30 torr is preferred. This procedure restores both the temperature and moisture content of the paper to normal values.

There are two "figures." Figure 1 says "Preservation storage: Temperature below 35°F and Humidity below 20%." Figure 2 says "Accelerated retrieval: Vacuum between 12 and 30 torr, High humidity."


Why Digitize? by Abby Smith. Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), Feb. 1999. vi + 13 pp. $15 prepaid from CLIR Publications Orders, 1755 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20036. Credit card orders may be made by calling CLIR at 202/939-4750, faxing to 202/939-4765, or sending e-mail to Web site:

The focus of this report is on what digital conversion can and cannot do, rather than on project planning or technical aspects. It summarizes what has been learned about the advantages and disadvantages of digitizing culturally significant materials. The author emphasizes that digitizing is a means of extending access, not of preservation; microfilming is still the preferred medium for preservation.


Being Analog: Creating Tomorrow's Libraries, by Walt Crawford. ALA, 1999. $28.00; ALA members $25.20. The listing in ALA's publications catalog says: "Being Analog celebrates the remarkable results professional librarianship has achieved in sensibly combining human intelligence and computer power. It points the way to a real world where flexible libraries support today's services and resources, while accommodating tomorrow's changes."


"Evaluation of Temperature Regimes for the Control of Insect Pests of Museum Collections," by Martyn J. Linnie. Collection Forum 1999, 13(2): 76-89.

The author (who is at the Department of Zoology, Trinity College Dublin) did a careful review of the literature and a detailed investigation of the effect of various temperature regimes on two insect pests in museums. One species was from the order Coleoptera, which eats plant materials, and the other was from the family of Dermestidae, which eats materials of animal origin. Complete mortality for all life stages for the Coleoptera species was obtained with an exposure to 50°C for 6 or more hours; also with exposure to -20°C for 3 or more hours. It took only 3 hours to achieve complete mortality for the Dermestid species at either 50°C or -20°C.


"Moderating Interactive and Conference Sessions. Part 1: Three Keys to Avoiding Common Problems," by Cheryl Reimold and Peter Reimold. Tappi Journal, July 1999, p. 224. Some of the "common complaints" in the list of 10 will be familiar to anyone who attends many conferences:

Time limits are not enforced, so that some speakers are unfairly cut short or even skipped.

There is no real interaction between panelists when the audience expected lively discussion.

People often can't hear the questions and so don't understand half the answers.

The keys to avoiding the ten complaints are three: briefly, preparation; questioning and summarizing skills; and responsibility. They are discussed at length in Parts 2-4 in this series. Part 2 is subtitled "The Power of Early Preparation"; Part 3 is "Ensuring a Strong Start"; and Part 4 hasn't appeared yet. Parts 2 and 3 are in Tappi Journal for August and September.


"Paperback Rebinding at a Library Repair Station," by Gary L. Frost. This was a handout at the Library Collections Conservation Discussion Group's meeting in 1998, at the AIC convention. It has four pages of text and four pages of diagrams and photographs, showing how damaged paperbacks can be rebound on demand within the library, at a small repair work station using small scale equipment.

The binding process uses a double fan vise (clamp, like a lying press), vertical plow and a Martin-Yale table-top cutter. Boards covered with a transfer tape are made up beforehand. The cover is built onto the book using these boards, and the original cover is attached to them, leaving the spine free, as in the Otabind method.


"Konservierungseinb�nde. Teil 2: Der Viertelvalzeinband" (Conservation Binding, Part 1: The Quarter-Joint Case), by Janos A Szirmai. Restauro 2/99, p. 98-103.

This is the second of a three-part series, the first part of which appeared in the first 1999 issue of Restauro, and was briefly described in Issue #6 of this newsletter last year. The quarter-joint case is a sounder structure than the "Gebrochener R�cken" because the boards are set forward of the binding edge, allowing the hollow spine to open without stressing the hinges, and the book to lie flat when open.


Scribes, Script, and Books: The Book Arts from Antiquity to the Renaissance, by Leila Avrin. 1991. 356 pp. $80 cloth; $72 for ALA members, from American Library Association. ISBN: 0-8389-0522-6. ALA order #: 0522-6-2200.

A classic in the history of books.


"Onward and Downward: How Binders Coped with the Printing Press Before 1800, Part 2 [and Part 3]," by Nicholas Pickwoad. CBBAG Newsletter, Summer [& Autumn] 1999, pp. 3-17 [& 3-14].

Part 1 appeared in the CBBAG Newsletter for Spring 1999. It dealt largely with the disappearance of full bindings on books offered for sale, and the emergence of temporary or incomplete bindings that saved time in the bindery.

Part 2 covers cheap and easy endleaf formats, simpler sewing methods (such as two-on sewing, which appeared by 1560, and sewing on recessed supports), use of materials manufactured for other trades (such as dyed alum-tawed sewing supports), heavy trimming of margins so the trimmings could be made into pulpboards, reduction in the number of tiedowns on the endbands (or even, in cheaper books, disappearance of the endbands altogether), and piecing together of leather to make a whole cover.

Part 3 covers re-use of leather, parchment and paper from other bindings on new books. This includes use of printed waste sheets as endleaves, and heavy paper (cartonnage) instead of parchment covers. Stitching ("stabsewing") of books to be sold in permanent bindings was a problem even in the later 1500s; this was common in America during the 18th and early 19th centuries. Adhesive binding was first used around 1670-1690. There is an isolated example of what appears to be a true case binding on a book dated 1650, but case bindings were not common until the early 1700s.

Each part has pages of endnotes with interesting discussions and numerous references in them.

All parts are reprinted from A Millennium of the Book: Production, Design & Illustration in Manuscript and Print 900-1900 , published in 1994 and available from St. Paul's Bibliographies in Winchester, England, and Oak Knoll Press, in Delaware.


The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding, by J.A. Szirmai. 1999. 352 pp. $149.50 + $5.95 shipping from Ashgate Publishing Co., Old Post Road, Brookfield, VT 05036-9704 (tel. 802/276-3162). 20% discount if ordered on Ashgate's website, <>

The table of contents, as posted on the Book Arts listserv, reads as follows:

Part 1. The Mediterranean heritage

1. Single quire Coptic codices (Nag Hammadi)

2. Multi-quire Coptic

3. Late Coptic

4. Ethiopian codex

5. Islamic codex

6. Byzantine (includes Greek and Armenian)

Part II. Medieval codex in the Western World

7. Carolingian

8. Romanesque

9. Gothic

10. Limp bindings

Bibliography p. 320-345

Index p. 346-352


"The Repair and Binding of Old Chinese Books, Translated and Adapted for Western Conservators," by David Helliwell. East Asian Library Journal, VIII:1, pp. 27-149. Many b&w photographs and illustrations by Christopher Clarkson. (ISSN 1079-8021) This issue costs $30 postpaid domestically and US$35 abroad. Payment should be sent to: East Asian Library Journal, 211 Jones Hall, Princeton University, Princeton, NY 08544.

The editor of Paper Conservation News, in which this book was announced, called it "An absolute 'must have' for book conservators."


"Adoption of the Codex Book, Parable of a New Reading Mode," Gary Frost. [A 15-p. handout at the 1998 AIC meeting.]

A well-annotated and documented history of the earliest books in codex format. Sections are headed:

The African Codex Model

Technical Influences on the Adoption of the Codex

Social Influences on the Adoption of the Codex

Literary and Liturgical Influences on the Adoption of the Codex

Contemporary Relevance of the Advent of the Codex Book

There is a two-page bibliography, and a page with diagrams showing clearly and simply the basic structural differences between early northeast African binding and three later book structures.


Communication Supplies Weekly: A Newsletter for the Hard Copy Supplies Industry is the reincarnation of Imaging Supplies Monthly, a source of business and technical information on office printing and copying equipment and supplies. It appears 48 times a year. Subscriptions are $350 from CAP Ventures, Inc., 600 Cordwainer Dr., Norwell, MA 02061 (781/871-9000, fax 781-871-3950).


Five papers on the program of "The Broad Spectrum," a conference given Oct. 5-9 at the Art Institute of Chicago, sound interesting for library and archive conservators:

Treatment Effects on Iron Gall Ink: The Significance of Iron Migration - Elmer Eusman (Rotterdam)

Aging of Paper and Pigments Containing Iron and Copper - Vincent Daniels (London)

All the Colors of White: The Changing Nature of White Papers - Peter Bower (London)

Assessing the Impact of Storage Environments on the Color Transfer of Felt-Tipped Pen Medium on Paper - Barbara Rosenberg (Toronto)

The Preservation and Conservation of Ink Jet and Electrophotographic Printed Materials - Debbie Glynn (London)

Postprints will be published.


"Sugar-Cellulose Composites III: The Incorporation of Sucrose into Paper as a Cellulose Substitute," by G. Graham Allan, Angel P. Stoyanov, Masahiro Ueda, and Amar Yahiaoui. Tappi Journal v. 82 #5, p. 165-171.

Sucrose (food-grade table sugar) added to the pulp slurry is hydrogen-bonded to the cellulose and distributed evenly throughout the paper. If the paper is beaten enough, the addition of as much as 10% sugar increases tear index values and tensile and surface strength.

(The authors do not say whether the paper tastes sweet or whether it is more attractive to insects, but it probably loses its nutritive qualities when it is well bonded to cellulose molecules.)


"Conservation of Palm-Leaf Manuscripts," by John F. Dean. Paper Conservation News #89, March 1999, p. 10-11.

The author has had considerable experience treating palm leaf manuscripts from Burma, Cambodia, and Thailand, because the Olin Library at Cornell, where he works, has a large collection of manuscripts from these countries. These two pages are from the guidelines for this format that are used at the Olin Library.

A major problem is keeping insects away from the manuscripts; the first step in treating a manuscript is to freeze it at -30°C, and the last step is to house it in an insect-proof box.

The sections of this article are: Causes of damage, Insects, Cleaning, Remedial treatment, Oiling, Securing the leaves, Housing and A Note on Parabaik manuscripts.


"Modification of Lignocellulosic Materials by Graft Reactions with Acrylamide in a Magnetic Field," by A.P. Chiriac et al. Cellul. Chem. Technol. v. 32, no. 5-6, Sept-Dec. 1998, pp. 425-431. (Abstract #3997, Paperbase Abstracts 1999)

In this study, acrylamide was polymerized onto a lignocellulosic support from softwood bark, using different methods to obtain free radicals, with or without the presence of a magnetic field. The magnetic field increased the rate of graft polymerization and of conversion.


"Revolution by the Ream: A History of Paper," by Jonathan M. Bloom. Aramco World, May/June 1999, pp. 26-39. ( Aramco World is published by Aramco Services Company, 9009 West Loop South, Houston, TX 77096; editorial correspondence goes to The Editor, Aramco World, PO Box 2106, Houston, TX 77252-2106.) ISSN 1044-1891. The magazine is distributed without charge.

This is an accurate, beautifully illustrated and fascinating history of paper, starting in central China in the 2nd century BC (not 102 AD) and carrying through to the fall of Constantinople. The emphasis is on papermaking in Islamic lands. The author, an art historian has a book in the works (Paper Before Print) which should be out next year, published by Yale University Press.

The publisher's copyright statement generously says, "All articles in Aramco World, except those from copyrighted sources, may be reprinted without further permission provided Aramco World is credited. On application to the editor, permission may also be given to reprint photographs and illustrations to which Aramco World has retained rights."


Magnetic Media Preservation Sourcebook. Mona Jimenez and Liss Platt, eds. 1998. Published by Media Alliance, c/o WNET/Thirteen, 356 W. 58th St., New York, NY 10019 (212/560-2919; fax 212/582-3297;, and available free of charge to nonprofit organizations, libraries, archives, and museums throughout New York State. There is a $10 charge (prepaid by check or money order) for shipping and handling outside the state of New York. Funded by the New York State Conservation/Preservation Discretionary Grant Program, with additional support from WNET/Thirteen, the NYS Council on the Arts & the NEA.

After a long gestation, this sourcebook appeared in September 1998. It was worth the wait: it is comprehensive, well put together, reader-friendly and well written--in a word, excellent. The main section ("Audio/Video Preservation Services and Activities") lists 51 services and activities in 33 pages, and the rest of the book consists of six main appendices.

App. A: Internet Resources (3 listservs and 10 websites)

App. B: Bibliographic Resources (both electronic and hard copy; general, audio, video and digital)

App. C: Educational Programs (four)

App. D: Equipment and Supplies (8 sources)

App. E: Respondents (16 groups with preservation experience, not listed elsewhere in the book)

App. F: Index (26 main services, each followed by the page numbers and the specific supplier; then there is an index of services in this index)


Authentic Electronic Records: Strategies for Long-Term Access, by Charles M. Dollar. $75 from Cohasset Associates, Inc., 3806 Lake Point Tower, 505 N. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, IL 60611 (800/200-7667; fax 800/FAX-7667). (Year of publication not provided in the flier from which this information was taken.)

This is a manual designed for widespread use. The publisher's blurb says, " Authentic Electronic Records gives you the tools to create a long-term access strategy that is appropriate to your distinct organizational situation. In addition, Authentic Electronic Records includes two very special features:

A Technology Primer for archivists and records managers examines the technical problems that continue to plague electronic records managers, including data representation, structure, storage, and records portability.

Cost data from the United States and Canada to help organizations plan a realistic budget within specific financial constraints."


By His Own Labor: The Biography of Dard Hunter, by Cathleen A. Baker. Red Hydra Press, 11404 Saint James Court, Northport, AL 35475 (205/339-1220; <>). 368 pages. Special edition of 155 press-numbered or lettered copies, of which 125 are for sale at $1,800. Until October 31, they are offered at a prepublication price of $1,500, with delivery in January. Also during this period a full leather design binding by Gray Parrot is offered at $2,500.

The paper, ink, type, wood engraved portrait of Hunter, and pattern side papers were made by hand, and the book was printed by hand on a Vandercook proof press, two pages at a time--all by acknowledged experts in this country, familiar with the early processes researched and used by Dard Hunter.

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