The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 24, Number 6
Apr 2001


Mass Deacidification at the National Diet Library

The following announcement appeared in the Aug.-Dec. 2000 International Preservation News on p. 31:

About 3,000 extra copies of Japanese books from the NDL collection were experimentally deacidified with a gaseous phase DAE (dry ammonia ethylene oxide) method at the facilities of Nippon Filing Co., Ltd., last February. Deterioration is expected to slow by a factor of 3 to 5. Tearing resistance tests showed that after treatment the papers lasted 5 to 7 times longer. The average pH value rose from 5.5 to 9.2. Drawbacks are the following: smell persisted after treatment and papers became slightly yellowish.

AIC Emergency Response Workshops 2001

Four emergency response workshops in different sites will be offered by AIC this year, with the support of an NEH grant. The deadline for the first one has already passed, but the others are:

Seattle, WA, July 19-21 (deadline June 1)
Independence, MO, Sept. 6-8 (deadline July 1)
Fort Bragg, NC, Oct. 25-27 (deadline Sept. 1)

Fifteen registrants will be accepted for each workshop. Most travel and hotel costs will be covered by the NEH grant. For application and guidelines, send your name and address to FAIC:; fax 202/452-9328.

CaCO3 Use in Groundwood Paper Mills is Up

Specialty Minerals, a division of Minerals Technologies, reports that it set up two satellite PCC (precipitated calcium carbonate) plants and expanded the facilities at several other locations. The use of their acid-tolerant calcium carbonate (AT™ PCC) in groundwood paper products like catalogs, magazines and newspapers continues to increase.

"To date," they say, "we provide either our AT™ PCC or our traditional PCC to 14 groundwood paper mills on 24 paper machines around the world. The penetration into the groundwood sector is significant because groundwood paper constitutes roughly half of the worldwide paper production."

Effect of the Seattle Earthquake on Libraries

On March 1, the day after the 6.8 amplitude earthquake in Seattle, Normandy Helmer (University of Oregon) reported on the event for DistList readers.

It was felt 200 miles away in Eugene, Oregon, she said, but did less damage than one might expect because the movement occurred deep underground. To quote from her report, "Many NW libraries and museums have posted reports to various lists summarizing a general lack of significant damage. The University of Washington Libraries appear to have been hardest hit, primarily by books falling off shelves. One of their libraries had more significant structural damage, including stacks that swayed in different directions, and is one of several temporarily closed.

"It looks as if damage is generally relatively small and well contained, and institutions have response efforts underway."

British Library Plans for Digital Preservation

They call it a "Digital Library System" but all the features in the news story in the December American Libraries are actually preservation-related. IBM is working with the British Library "to ensure that its digital collections will still be retrievable when the formats in which they originated are long dead."

Metadata for each digital item will be created, so that each one can be moved to new hardware or software environments, or for its original environment to be emulated.

The digital library will be operational in 2002.

ICOMOS Establishes International Polar Committee

The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) has established an International Polar Committee (IPC) to bring together experts representing member countries, to develop programs, exchange ideas and promote the identification and conservation of historic sites in the Arctic and Antarctic. The council's national committees have been invited to nominate members to the new IPC.

The secretariat is in Norway, with Dr. Susan Barr, the Norwegian representative, as President. Paul Chaplin, the New Zealand representative, is General Secretary. (Much more information can be found in the AICCM National Newsletter No. 78, March 2001. aiccm=Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material; website:

Washington's Will Undergoes New Treatment

The wills of both George and Martha Washington were restored at the Library of Congress in 1910 by William Berwick, who lined them with silk cloth (crêpeline lamination) and bound George's 44-page will into a book.

By 1977, they needed attention again. The owner, Fairfax County, sent them to the Library of Congress for further treatment, most of which was carried out by Norvell Jones. This time Martha's will was mounted under window mats, sealed in plexiglass sheets and put into a box. The interleaving sheets in George's will were replaced with alkaline buffered paper and the thin cardboard support sheets were replaced with alkaline sheets. (The details of this conservation project are on p. 9-10 of the January 1980 Abbey Newsletter.)

The silk crêpeline was recently removed from George's will in a new treatment being carried out by Christine Smith, an independent Washington, D.C. paper conservator. The sheets have been washed and sized with gelatin, and were being mended at the time the process was written up for the April 2001 Guild of BookWorkers Newsletter. Christine Smith will be a presenter at the Guild's Seminar on Standards of Excellence, October 4-7, in Alexandria, VA.

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