The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 24, Number 1


[Note: Two significant books appeared recently, but have not been examined yet: By His Own Labor, The Biography of Dard Hunter, by Cathleen A. Baker, available from Oak Knoll Press (1-800/996-2556); and Preservation: Issues and Planning, edited by Paul N. Banks and Roberta Pilette, available from the American Library Association (ISBN 0-8389-0776-8.]


The whole Oct. 1999 issue of the NPO Journal [National Preservation Office of the British Library] is on preservation management, including articles on

National Register of Collection Strengths, Retention Intention and Preservation Status
New Research in Preservation Management
Professional Accreditation of Conservators: The development of professionalism in the conservation profession
Professional Management Summer School
Preservation Management: Between policy and practice [report of a 3-day convention at the National Library in the Netherlands]
Digital Culture: Maximising the nation's investment
Handling the Past, 29 June 1999 [report of a workshop on collection care]

The subscription address is Turpin Distribution Services Ltd., Blackhorse Road, Letchworth, Hertfordshire SG6 1HN, UK (Fax: 44 1 462 480947).


"A Collaborative Effort to Create Exhibit Guidelines: Resolving the Conflict between Museum Exhibition and Conservation," by Toby Raphael and Kevin Brookes. WAAC Newsletter v.22 #1, Jan. 2000, p. 18-19.

The conflict between the conservation and curatorial factions in institutions has been described recently in publications reviewed in this newsletter, and suggestions have been made to facilitate cooperation. This article is the most thorough examination of the problem so far. It describes the National Park Service's new Exhibit Conservation Guidelines, which recommends ways to meet preservation goals without compromising curatorial goals. It is the first step in a significant project that incorporates contributions from conservators, exhibit designers and fabricators, with a set of goals to accomplish, and a plan for wide dissemination of the published guidelines.

The complete title is Exhibit Conservation Guidelines: Incorporating Conservation into Exhibit Planning, Design and Production. It has been produced in CD-ROM format, with a connection to a NPS web site where updates can be found. It is free to NPS sites, and can be ordered for $49.95 from


"Setting Standards for Conservation: New Temperature and Relative Humidity Guidelines are Now Published," by Stefan Michalski. CCI Newsletter No. 24, Nov. 1999, p. 3-4.

The 1999 ASHRAE Applications Handbook will include, for the first time, a chapter on temperature and relative humidity levels for libraries, museums and archives. This chapter reflects four years of work by a technical committee whose members were S. Louis Kelter, chairman (of Kelter & Gilligo, P.C.); William P. Lull (of Garrison/Lull Inc.); William B. Rose and Alexander M. Zhivov (both of the University of Illinois); and Stefan Michalski (Canadian Conservation Institute).

Because there can be no perfect level of temperature or RH that is best for mixed collections, or workable in all types of buildings and climates, they settled on a range of acceptable levels, identified as AA, A, B, C and D. The committee described the risks to collections at each level as clearly as possible, given the present state of knowledge.

Level AA specifies 50% RH and (probably) 70°F—"essentially the old magic numbers"—but it has a practical description: "No risk of mechanical damage to artifacts and paintings. Some metals and minerals may degrade if 50% RH exceeds a critical RH." (The word "most" was included by mistake before the phrase "artifacts and paintings," but will be removed in the next edition.) The usual variation in temperature and RH is allowed, plus a possible 5°C seasonal variation.

Level A allows 5% or 10% daily fluctuation in RH, 0-10% seasonal RH change, and a downward seasonal fluctuation of 10°C. It carries a small risk of mechanical damage to high vulnerability artifacts. Level B is for seasonal setback museums, and Level C limits conditions to within 25-75% RH year round, with temperature not to exceed 30°C. Level D requires only a humidity below 75%.

There is a chapter by Bill Lull and others on how to achieve these standards, descriptions of the role of display cases and humidistatic control, a section on building envelope issues, and an abridgement of Conrad's classification of building types.

For a copy of the handbook, contact the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc., 1791 Tullie Circle, NE, Atlanta, GA 30329.


"Evaluierung der beiden Massenentsäuerungsverfahren Libertec/Battelle," by Robert Fuchs and A. Zeitzem-Philipps. Arbeitsblätter des Arbeitskreises Nordrhein-Westfälischer Papierrestauratoren, 7. Ausgabe, 2000, p. 18-29.

A comparison of two mass deacidification systems used in Europe. Seven of the eight references are in the English language.

A copy of the article can be sent without charge to any subscriber requesting it. Limit: 5.

Other articles in this same issue include: "Der Neubau des Westfälischen Archivamtes," by Lars Wodtke, and "Die Restaurierung des ersten Kopiars der Stadt Dinslaken," by Antje Brauns. "Kopiar" probably means "commonplace book"—a handwritten collection of memorabilia, quotations, and so on.


"When Trust Isn't Enough," by Sara Behrman. American Libraries, May 1998. p. 72-75.

Insider crime in libraries, the sidebar says, "May go undetected 90% of the time; tarnishes a library's reputation as a good steward of public funds; and can be safeguarded against by enforcing strong, universally enforced internal controls." The author collects "instructive stories of library lawlessness" that include fraud, embezzlement, theft, larceny, mutilation of library materials, falsification of records, misuse of public funds, policy violations, and harassment.

A sidebar at the end recommends seven steps to take in addition to establishing strong internal controls, and suggests Chapter 8 of the Pennsylvania Public Library Accounting Manual as a guide.


Guidelines on Assessment and Remediation of Fungi in Indoor Environments. New York City Department of Health (Environmental & Occupational Disease Epidemiology, 125 Worth St. c/n 34C, New York, NY 10013; 212/788-4290), April 2000. 14 pages. Also available on the Internet at

As the introduction says, "This document revises and expands the original guidelines to include all fungi (mold). It is based both on a review of the literature regarding fungi and on comments obtained by a review panel consisting of experts in the fields of microbiology and health sciences. It is intended for use by building engineers and management, but is available for general distribution to anyone concerned about fungal contamination, such as environmental consultants, health consultants, health professionals, or the general public." (See the October 1994 issue of this newsletter for the story on the mold outbreak at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, and the resulting lawsuit.)

Health issues (health, immunological and toxic effects of mold, infectious diseases of mold), and medical evaluation and relocation are explained on pp. 2-4. The next section is on environmental assessment, with inspection, sampling and monitoring, addressed to the technical specialist, as is the section on remediation (safe removal or cleaning of contaminated materials), which is broken down into procedures for five levels of contamination.

This is a unique, much-needed, pioneering publication; everyone should have a copy, despite the drawbacks described below.

The editing is a bit irritating. In the first five pages, "Organic Dust Toxic Syndrome" is abbreviated "ODTS" six times and "OTDS" three times. Nine times in the first five pages, the symptoms of allergy are recited whenever the topic is mentioned.

The approach is conservative: instead of saying "There is good evidence of a connection between Stachybotrys chartarum (SC) and pulmonary hemorrhage/hemosiderosis in infants, although not everyone is convinced of the connection," they say simply that its association with SC is unproven.

Mold victims are advised to discard moldy food and to "address common household sources of mold, such as mold found in bathroom tubs or between tiles with household cleaners"—but are not told how to look for leaks or condensation, or take other steps which may be far more important. They are advised to ask for an environmental assessment immediately if their building has mold, water damage or musty odors—but there is no information on how to find a qualified assessor, although a list of labs is given. They are also advised to ask their doctors for referral to practitioners who are "trained in occupational/ environmental medicine or related specialties and who are knowledgeable about these types of exposures"—but how many people have doctors who are able to find such practitioners? There is no reference to a list of assessors or practitioners, or to an information source that might have either list.

It would be a good move for the group that compiled these assessment and remediation guidelines to supply these omissions, or to refer to another publication that can supply them. People affected by mold need separate, realistic information that stresses the usefulness of keeping a diary of symptoms and health measures taken; suggests solutions to problems that can be solved by a resident or owner; gives the average or estimated costs of diagnosis, treatment, remediation and abandonment of a house that cannot be fixed; reviews legal options; and puts victims in touch with others who have similar problems.


Preprints of the ICOM-CC (International Council of Museums - Conservation Committee) 12th Triennial Meeting, Lyon, 29 August-3 Sept. 1999, edited by Janet Bridgland, are available in 2 volumes from James & James Ltd., London, 1999. Total number of pages is 920; language is English or French; price £75; ISBN 1-873936-92-3. Contact James & James (Science Publishers) Ltd., 35-37 William Rd., London NW1 3ER, England, UK (tel. (44 20) 7387 8558; fax (44 20) 7387 8998; e-mail <>;

Although most of the papers reproduced in these two volumes are on museum topics, enough of them are significant and/or relevant to library and archival conservation to make the expenditure worthwhile. £75 is about $111 US.


Book and Paper Group Annual, v.17 1998 (published 1999 by BPG of the AIC, received at Abbey Publications in 2000). 122 pp.

Of the 17 papers in this volume, only four were delivered at the AIC Book and Paper Group sessions at the 1998 AIC meeting in Arlington, Virginia. The rest were from prior meetings (one from 1978), or from a poster session or a session of another specialty group, or independently submitted. Some of the more interesting and significant papers are briefly described below.

The Aftermath of Arson: Packing a Freezer Trailer, and Other Tidbits," by Catherine Atwood. (4 pp.) When a county courthouse burned down in February 1997, people engaged in disaster recovery faced two obstacles: denial of access to the building interior for the first three days, and limited funds ($2500 total). The records were extremely moldy by the time staff and volunteers were allowed inside. Records were loaded into boxes and into an onsite freezer trailer lent to them for five weeks. This is a very clear account of how they coped and what they learned about pallets, load locks and forklifts as they loaded the trailer. It also covers the handling of confidential records, including closed court documents, and looking out for a return of the arsonist. Information of this sort is rarely published.

"Bookkeeper® for Spray Use in Single Item Treatments," by Terry Boone, Lynn Ridder and Susan Russick. (15 pp.) The authors worked closely with Chandru Shahani, Ken Harris, and others in the Research and Testing Lab at the Library of Congress to devise tests that would show how spray Bookkeeper worked on a variety of papers, including how to measure the alkaline reserve, the uniformity of the spray application, the speed and extent of the reaction, penetration or migration possible, and any effect on media.

This is a very thorough study, with over half the page space given to tables, graphs, photographs and diagrams. They could not measure the alkaline reserve immediately after treatment, because the spray deposited in the papers needs time to react with moisture in the air and paper. This was demonstrated when they brushed a treated paper with indicator solution. There was only a minimal change in color until they put it in a humid environment. They sprayed only one side, or both, of test sheets, and compared results with dipped papers; they also tested about 15 media to see how they reacted to treatment. Finally, they recommended Bookkeeper for use with alcohol-soluble media, 3-D paper objects, bound materials, multimedia objects, embossed materials, and materials that are dimensionally unstable or prone to cockling; but not for slick or highly calendered papers or black or dark colored paper. Certain other materials were put into an in-between category.

"Temporary Masks for Aqueous Paper Treatments," by Antoinette Dwan. (2 pp.) This is really addressed to conservators of art on paper. The first of the two treatments described may be hard for readers in other areas of conservation to follow, but the second treatment, reprinted below, is easier to follow and just as remarkable. (A mask or resist is a coating that protects sensitive areas in works of art from water or other substances used in treatment, and that can be removed after the treatment is performed.)

"Mask 2 ... is the use of propyl or butyl alcohol to coat an area during aqueous treatment. These alcohols temporarily bond with the cellulose and repel water for a limited time. The [-OH] group attaches to the cellulose and the aliphatic end temporarily repels water. Propyl alcohol is soluble in water but it takes a while for the water to equilibrate with the propyl alcohol and is an effective resist during that period. Butyl alcohol is not soluble in water unless mixed in 8% or less concentrations. Various concentrations can be manipulated for a given situation to achieve optimum timing and results. By varying the number of applications of the alcohol resist between baths or varying the duration of immersion, the alcohols can provide an effective temporary resist that is eventually replaced with atmospheric moisture. Obviously, the area to be masked should be tested and can not be soluble in alcohol.
"Tests are also recommended prior to and alongside the treatment. I coat a similar paper with a soluble red watercolor. The alcohol resist is applied and put in a separate bath and timed. When the water begins to replace the alcohol in the mask, the red will begin to bleed. The timing should be carefully noted, and the actual artifact should be pulled out prior to that time and recoated with the resist prior to another immersion. This is a mask that is very benign but requires greater vigilance during treatment."

"Adoption of the Codex Book: Parable of a New Reading Mode," by Gary Frost. (8 pp.) This paper was a handout at the 1998 Library Collections Conservation Discussion Group meeting, where the context was the preservation of the paperback book. The history and evolution of the codex format is one of the author's favorite topics, and the text, notes and long bibliography reflect his thorough approach. Section headings are:

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

"Phased Conservation," by Peter Waters. (10 pp.) P. 113-122.

Some of the section headings are:

Phased Conservation Philosophy
[Five sections on LC Conservation Office history]
Influences Behind the Concept of Phased Conservation
Phased Conservation in the Electronic Age
Preservation and Access, Versus Preservation on Demand
The Role of the Scientist: Microbiology and Deacidification
Challenges to be Faced and Dealt With
An Imaginary Preservation Strategy
Technology for Technology's Sake

A paper very similar to this one was delivered recently at the Bookbinding 2000 conference in Rochester, New York. Since the author had laryngitis, he sat down after introducing it while his wife, Sheila Waters, read the paper. Here are some of the statements he made at that conference: Environmental control does work. Individual containers prevent the damage done by slumping rows of books on library shelves, and protect the volume from fire and water. An important part of the phased conservation approach is to evaluate and control usage. Demand would trigger the allocation of funds for preservation. Never discard the original material. In 50 years' time, the problem of preservation of digital formats will make the brittle paper problem look trivial.

In the question and answer period, one person asked whether he had published this message anywhere, because some administrators need to read this. He did not answer the question directly, but this article did appear in the BPG Annual, and he did publish "Phased Preservation: A Philosophical Concept and Practical Approach to Preservation" in Special Libraries, Winter 1990.


Towards a Better Emulsion Adhesive for Conservation: A Preliminary Report on the Effect of Modifiers on the Stability of Vinyl Acetate/Ethylene (VAE) Copolymer Emulsion Adhesive, by Jane Down. Available from CCI for $10 US. 27 pp. ISBN 0-660-17876-1.

Because PVAC adhesives grow brittle and acidic with age, CCI has been looking for a better kind of adhesive to use in conservation. This report is a preliminary presentation of the data collected in that search. Some interesting trends and findings that surfaced in the search are included in the report.


"Caring for Collections," prepared by Wendy Smith, July 1999. (In column titled "Online References") AICCM National Newsletter #72, Sept. 1999.

Websites in Australia, Europe, New Zealand and the U.S. that include information on this topic are described:

National Archives of Australia (NAA):

National Library of Australia (NLA):

The Community Heritage Grants site:

Australian Museums Online (AMOL): conservation_index.asp

The State Library of Victoria:

Conservation OnLine (CoOL):

National Library of New Zealand:

European Commission for Preservation and Access (ECPA):

International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA):

Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC):

Library of Congress:

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA):


National Library of Canada:


Getty Research Institute:

Commission on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), previously the Commission on Preservation and Access (CPA):


Looking at Paper: Evidence and Interpretation, Toronto, 1999. Symposium postprints, including edited transcripts of two of the post-conference workshops focusing on examination of western and oriental papers. 300 pp., 110 illustrations. $50 US from the Canadian Conservation Institute, 1030 Innes Rd., Ottawa, Ont. K1A 0M5, Canada (tel. 613/998-3721 ext. 250; fax 613/998-4721; e-mail


"Permanent Papers," Chapter 12 (in Papermaking Science and Technology v. 17, Pulp and Paper Testing, edited by J. Gullichsen, et al.) pp. 248-255. Helsinki, Finland: Fapet Oy, 1999. 287 pp. FIM492.00 (ISBN 92-5216-17-9). (Paperboard Abstracts 1999, Abstr. 8633)

The abstract seems to show that the authors are familiar with the topic of permanence: "Permanence is dependent mainly on the chemical stability of the paper itself and this stability may be impaired by chemical reactions involving the paper's own components and by reactive agents from the environment.... Topics covered include the historical aspects of permanent papers; requirements and tests for permanence; and categories of permanent papers."


The Stability of Photocopied and Laser-printed Documents and Images: General Guidelines (Technical Bulletin #22). By David Grattan. $6 US from Canadian Conservation Institute (fax 613/998-4721). 8 pp.

The guidelines say that black and white copies on alkaline paper, using carbon-based toner, are very stable, but color copies are not.


"How Filler Came to be Used in Paper. Fraud in Paper Making," by J. Rohleder. Int. Papwirtsch. #2, 1999, pp. 46, 48, 50-51. (Paperboard Abstracts 1999, Abstr. 7660)

Filler was used in papermaking in the 18th century to make up for the shortage of rags. Minerals (chalk, heavy spar or clay) could be used as a substitute for fiber if all the raw materials were mixed in the rag engine and if pulp sizing (as opposed to surface sizing) was used. In the 19th century a medium-sized paper mill consumed 320 tons per year of filler, making the average filler content about 17% [assuming good retention of filler at the wet end]. Calcium carbonate was first used in the USA in 1901.


"The Manufacture of Leather," by Roger Barlee, David Lanning, and William McLean. The New Bookbinder, v. 19, 1999, p. 48-59.

This is an edited compilation of a series of six short articles published 1996-1998 in Skin Deep, the biannual newsletter of J. Hewit and Sons Ltd., tanners and leather dressers in Edinburgh, Scotland. Hewit gets its goat skins from Nigeria, India, Pakistan, and Norway; calf from Scandinavia and Mexico; sheepskin from the U.K.; and pigskin from Japan and Russia. The twelve steps in leather manufacture, as they are performed at Hewit, are described by the authors, and the signs of good or poor quality are noted.


"Plain Plastics: Taking a Basic Approach to Understanding Plastics," by Amanda Pagliarino. AICCM National Newsletter No. 71, June 1999, p. 1, 3-8.

The author, who writes clearly and knows her subject, covers all the essential aspects of polymer chemistry and plastic deterioration. The section on polymer chemistry covers linear polymeric chains, branched polymeric chains, cross-linked polymeric chains, thermoplastics, aggregate states of polymers, thermosets, glass transition temperature (Tg), melt temperature (Tm), and plastic deterioration. Under "Plastic Deterioration" she covers environmental weathering, oxidation (hydroperoxides, photo-oxidation, thermal oxidation and ozone), plasticizer migration, hydrolysis, auto-catalytic deterioration, and the terms used to describe plastic deterioration (chalking, corrosion, cracking, crazing, deformation, discoloration, embrittlement, ferrotyping, gelation, offsetting, stress-cracking, stress-crazing, sweating, verdigris, and warping). There are 28 references, from 1946 to 1998, of which at least ten are from conservation, and two of which are websites.

In addition (the frosting on this cake), there is a two-page table giving information on 11 plastics: cellulose nitrate; casein; phenol formaldehyde; amino, thiourea, urea and melamine formaldehyde; cellulose acetate; hard rubber; polymethyl methacrylate; polyvinyl chloride; polyethylene; polyester (polyethylene terephthalate); and polypropylene. For each plastic or group of plastics, it gives common or trade names, year first produced, characteristics, applications, thermal dynamics, environmental weathering, moisture and RH, hydrolysis, oxidation, other characteristics, and conservation considerations.

Here is a sample paragraph, to illustrate her writing style:

"Aggregate states of a polymer are the physical phases and changes that occur in response to temperature. Some plastics metamorphose from a solid, through liquid to gas, while others progress from a solid through a long and indistinct rubber transition. The ability to change through various aggregate states is dependent on the formation, structural arrangement and molecular weight of the polymeric chains."


"Stanford Project will Test an Approach for Preserving Digital Journals," by Scott Carlson. Chronicle of Higher Education, March 10, 2000, p. A45.

This is only the umpteenth method that has been suggested for preserving digital records and publications, but it might work. The idea is "a computerized variation on an age-old archiving strategy: Make lots of copies, and keep them in different locations." This is the project of HighWire Press, a Stanford unit that offers the full digitized text of more than 170 scholarly journals at It calls its approach Lots Of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe, or LOCKSS ( Six computers across the country will each house a copy of part of two journal archives from the HighWire server. Each computer in the LOCKSS network will continually look for—and correct—errors in its copy by comparing it with other copies in the system.

Each library is archiving on its own computer the journals to which it subscribes. If any computer on the network crashes or is destroyed or bought by another organization, LOCKSS would make sure that copies of the archived publications were available to readers in the system.

In March, when this story was published, Stanford was ready to test the system at the libraries of Columbia, Harvard and Stanford Universities; the Universities of California at Berkeley and of Tennessee; and the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The project may be expanded to libraries overseas.

Kevin Guthrie, president of JSTOR, says he has reservations about LOCKSS' potential costs, and Deanna Marcum, president of the Council on Library and Information Resources, says,"Most people believe that some redundancy is required, but a lot of redundancy is perhaps too expensive." Victoria Reich, one of the designers of the project, says that libraries will not be obliged to archive all titles of publications in the system.

The project is supported by Sun Microsystems and a $50,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.


Both the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild and the Guild of Book Workers recently issued supply directories, which should be useful to conservators as well as bookbinders and artists. The organizations' addresses are in the list of Useful Addresses recently sent out to subscribers.


"My Life So Far," by Arthur W. Johnson. CBBAG Newsletter, Spr. 2000, p. 3-12.

The author, a widely known calligrapher and bookbinder, is 80 years old now. In his youth he coped with the '30s depression, then conscription, and early struggles to earn money and add to his capabilities. He helped support his family by teaching, and founded the Hampstead Guild of Scribes and Bookbinders (later named the Guild of Contemporary Bookbinders, then Designer Bookbinders) because he felt the need to socialize with others in his profession.... He was a calligrapher, bookbinder, and teacher, but he liked teaching best.

Very well-written and inspiring.

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