The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 24, Number 6
Apr 2001



Guidelines for Information about Preservation Products, ANSI/NISO Z39.77-2001. ISBN:1880124491. 30 pp. Hardcopy [sic] $49. Can be downloaded free or ordered online at

This standard specifies the information that should be included in advertisements, catalogs, and promotional material for products used for the storage, binding, or repair of library materials, including books, pamphlets, sound recordings, videotapes, films, compact disks, manuscripts, maps and photographs.

For additional information contact NISO Headquarters at 301/654-2512 (e-mail:


Reviews in Conservation is a new annual publication from the International Institute for Conservation, which will be sent automatically to all IIC members. Number 1, 2000, arrived at the Abbey Publications office March 31. It does cover the whole range of conservation, but two out of seven reviews are on topics in book and paper conservation:

Claude Laroque, Transparent papers: Technological outline and conservation (11 pp.)

Jan Wouters, The repair of parchment: Filling. (10 pp.)

This volume is edited by Sally Woodcock; Norman Tennent is Consultant Editor; and the Editorial Board is made up of David Bomford, Stephen Rees-Jones and John Winter. ISSN: 1605-8410. All the articles are peer reviewed, most are illustrated, and of course all have a good number of references. The need for a review journal like this has been widely felt for many years.

No price or purchasing information is offered, but the volume could probably be ordered through the IIC office, which sells a great many other publications. Address: 6 Buckingham St., London WC2N 6BA, UK (fax: +44 20 7976 1564; e-mail

Papers are welcomed on all areas relevant to conservation, including practical treatment, materials, technical art history, science, theory and so on. Authors are paid a fee of £350. More information and author guidelines are available from Sally Woodcock (fax: +44 1223 562244; e-mail:


"Raising Awareness of Faculty about Preservation Issues," by Paul Conway. ARL #213, Dec. 2000, p. 10-12. ©Paul Conway.

A joint report issued recently by the Association of Research Libraries, the Modern Language Association, and the American Historical Association, Preserving Research Collections: A Collaboration between Librarians and Scholars, argues that faculty involvement in setting preservation priorities and methods is essential, and can be done if the academic administrator involved can engage local faculty in "advocating the preservation enterprise without unduly burdening daily operations with narrowly drawn mandates."

In the 1980s, the Commission on Preservation and Access tried to get the scholarly community to support its single-strategy program of microfilming brittle books and had some success, but it also sparked concern among scholars that local collections were being destroyed in order to save them. The Modern Language Association's Ad Hoc Committee on the Future of the Print Record, chaired by G. Thomas Tanselle, issued a statement in 1995 that basically called for the preservation of everything, even duplicate copies.

The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) saw that they had to think of a better way to involve scholars in preservation. They stopped their heavy emphasis on the seriousness of the Brittle Book Problem with its single solution (microfilming), and started to focus on a wide range of preservation options and the process of choosing among them. They also thought about whether a local setting or a national one would be most productive for joint decision-making, and decided to work through professional associations at a national level to define preservation choices. By summer 2001, CLIR's Task Force on the Artifact in Library Collections plans to issue a final report on what documents should be retained in the original form and what preservation options are advisable to ensure the integrity of the item. ARL recently published its report, Preserving Research Collections, in which it defines the role of scholars in shaping preservation selection decisions. Both reports (CLIR and ARL) are concerned with budget matters and resisting pressures to deemphasize traditional preservation measures in favor of new digital resources.

The author describes Yale University Library's experience working along these lines with its Advisory Committee on Library Policy in four meetings in 1999. These meetings were productive and enlightening.

CLIR's draft report on artifact preservation has just been published on the web at the title "The Evidence in Hand." Comments can be sent to Abby Smith at The final report will appear shortly after the review period ends on June 10. CLIR particularly welcomes thoughts of librarians and scholars about recommendations for action at both regional and national levels.


American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. ASHRAE Applications Handbook (1999). Contact ASHRAE, Inc., 1791 Tullie Circle, NE, Atlanta, GA 30329 (800/527-4723).

The handbook includes a chapter on temperature and relative humidity levels for libraries, museums and archives. This chapter was worked on for four years by S.L. Kelter, chairman of Kelter and Gillligo, P.C.; W.P. Lull of Garrison/Lull Inc.; W.B. Rise and A.M. Zhivov of the University of Illinois; and S. Michalski of the Canadian Conservation Institute.


"Mass Deacidification in Practise," by Lisa Jeong. AICCM National Newsletter Dec. 2000, p. 21-22.

This is the author's brief report of the "Mass Deacidification in Practice" conference in Bückeburg, Germany, October 2000. Helmut Bansa (Bavarian State Library) reported his conclusions from a recent evaluation of mass deacidification methods, giving the downside first: It can reduce the strength of treated paper and induce slight yellowing; leather, plastics, inks, dyestuffs and boards can incur both physical and chemical damage; and, mysteriously, he believes that "mass deacidification does not solve the acidity problem that library and archive managers hope for." BUT: Mass deacidified paper improved in quality even with yellowed paper, and he conceded that mass deacidification was appropriate for acidic paper.

A panel discussion at the end of the conference recommended that artificial aging tests should be standardized.

The National Library of the Netherlands and the Bavarian State Library reported that they select books printed between 1840 and 1950 and between 1840 and 1970, respectively, for deacidification.


"10 Reasons Why the Internet is no Substitute for a Library," by Mark Y. Herring. American Libraries April 2001, p. 76-78.

Funny but serious; a source of good arguments/retorts when you are being pressured to turn your library into a digital all-purpose wonder. The author is dean of library services for the Dacus Library at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC. Here are his "10 Reasons," with some of his evidence and arguments.

  1. Not everything is on the Internet. Only about 8% of all journals are on the Web, for instance.
  2. The needle (your search) in the haystack (the Web). No search or metasearch engine searches the entire Web, and what they do search is not updated daily, weekly, or even monthly.
  3. Quality control doesn't exist. Any fool can put up anything on the Web, and, to my (Herring's) accounting, all have.
  4. What you don't know really does hurt you. Articles in digitized journals on full-text sites are often missing footnotes; journal titles in a digitized package change regularly, often without warning.
  5. States can now buy one book and distribute to every library on the Web—NOT! Only pre-1925 out-of-copyright books are available free on the Web.
  6. Hey, Bud, you forgot about e-book readers. Try reading an e-book reader for more than a half-hour. Headaches and eyestrain are the best results.
  7. Aren't there library-less universities now? No. The newest state university in California at Monterey opened without a library building a few years ago. For the last two years, they've been buying books by the tens of thousands because they couldn't find what they needed on the Internet.
  8. But a virtual State Library would do it, right? Do what, bankrupt the state? Yes, it would. The cost of having everything digitized is incredibly high, costing tens of millions of dollars just in copyright releases. ...To virtualize a medium-sized library of 400,000 volumes would cost a mere $1,000,000,000!
  9. The Internet: A mile wide, an inch (or less) deep. Not much on the Internet is more than 15 years old. Access to older material is very expensive.
  10. The Internet is ubiquitous but books are portable. Humankind, being what it is, will always want to curl up with a good book—not a laptop—at least for the foreseeable future.


Bibliography of Preservation Literature, 1983-1996, by Robert E. Schnare, Jr., Susan G. Swartzburg and George M. Cunha. Scarecrow Press, 2001 (301/459-3366). 840 pp., 5358 references, almost 2" thick. $89.50; 15% off if the book is ordered using their online catalog:

This volume is essentially the first author's tribute to George Cunha and Susan Swartzburg. Cunha had intended to publish another bibliography of preservation literature to cover works published after 1983, but died before it could be completed. (His obituary is on p. 81 of the Nov. 1994 issue of the Abbey Newsletter.)

Susan Swartzburg, who was introduced to preservation by Cunha and who was his devoted friend, worked to complete his bibliography after his death, but died herself only two years later. Robert Schnare, also an old friend of Cunha, worked with her during that time, and continued after her death in 1996. The result is a bibliography nearly as long as the one in the second volume of Cunha's Library and Archives Conservation: 1980s and Beyond (1983).

In the 1983 bibliography, Cunha (or the Cunhas, because his wife Dorothy worked with him when she was alive) arranged their bibliographic entries under about 140 subject headings; this volume arranges the entries alphabetically by author and annotates many more than the 1983 bibliography does, but the only subject approach is via the subject index at the end of the book.

Some of the works cited are by established experts, heads of major departments, and teachers in graduate programs; some of them are by librarians and bookbinders who knew that they were part of a movement, in which everyone had a role to play. So the bibliography is a source for social history as well as the history of the profession of preservation administrator. The authors with the most citations are Clements, DeCandido, Garlick, Merrill-Oldham and Swartzburg. (This doesn't count McCrady, who was credited with all unattributed articles in the Abbey Newsletter). Each author had five or six lines of page numbers after their names in the author index.

Cunha, by the way, was a pioneer, and like most pioneers, had a vision of what could be accomplished, and then did all he could to bring it about, using the skills and knowledge he and his friends had. They also tend to be bull-headed and sometimes cantankerous because of their stubborn devotion to their cause, but it usually turns out that they were right in the end. (Someone said once, "You can always tell the pioneers. They're the ones with the arrows in their backs.")


Preservation Science Survey: An Overview of Recent Developments in Research on the Conservation of Selected Analog Library and Archival Materials, by Henk J. Porck and René Teygeler. Council on Library and Information Resources, Washington, DC (, in cooperation with the European Commission on Preservation and Access (, 2000. 68pp. $20 per copy, ordered through CLIR's website.

Major sections are: Paper, film and photographic materials, magnetic tape and "General." In each section, ongoing work in decay, treatment and storage is described. "Trends and Gaps" are discussed at the end. (The four trends are: Shift to large-scale, passive conservation [i.e., preservation]; integration and cooperation in preservation management; from hydrolysis to oxidation [as the deterioration pathway for which a good treatment has not yet been found]; and the growing backlog of film, photo, and tape preservation research.


"Permanence of Paper for Records, Books and Other Documents." Canadian General Standards Board (CAN/CGSB-9.70-2000).

This new standard for the permanence of paper was approved recently and can be purchased from the CGSB Sales Centre, Ottawa, Canada K1A 1G6 (819/956-0425 or 1-800-665-CGSB; fax 819/956-5644).

Lignin was an important issue because the Subcommittee on Permanence of Paper did not want to make it impossible for lignin-containing papers to qualify as permanent. They adopted a compromise, and separated the concept of permanence into "mechanical permanence" and "optical permanence" so that a paper that darkened as a result of exposure to light could at least qualify as mechanically permanent. (A three-year research project on the effect of lignin on permanence satisfied them that lignin-containing papers with a calcium carbonate filler were just as stable as those without lignin, though this is not strictly true, because it can still degrade from oxidation and light exposure, even if it has a calcium-carbonate filler.)

No existing standard contains any specifications for optical permanence, because the research on which they would have to be based has not been performed yet.


"Cellulose Degradation in an Acetic Acid Environment," by A.-L. Dupont and J. Tétrault. Studies in Conservation 45 (2000) 201-210.

The effect of acetic acid on paper was investigated because although acetic acid is commonly found in collections (from wood, PVA and other materials), its effect had not been investigated as often as those of stronger acids. Volatile organic compounds emitted from archival boxes were analyzed by several means, including GC-MS, and the effect on paper was measured by pH and degree of polymerization.

The acetic acid emitted by the boxes had little effect at first, but the rate of degradation of paper in the enclosure accelerated as time went on. The authors conclude that their results emphasize the importance of maintaining an acetic acid free environment for the conservation of cellulose-based materials.


"Iron-Gall Ink Meeting," report by Nikki Ralston. Paper Conservation News #96, Dec. 2000, p. 5-6. The postprints are available for £25 + p&h from Jean Brown, Conservation, Burt Hall, University of Northumbria, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE1 8ST, UK (44-191/227-3331; fax: 44-191/227-3250; E-mail: jean/

Iron-gall ink, in all its various forms, has been used for so much of the record of civilization for so long, and it has destroyed or seriously damaged so many of those records, that a number of conservation scientists and conservators have focused their efforts on this problem in recent years. Most European paper conservation conferences have had one or more papers on this subject.

This one was more like a working meeting than a conference, because every paper was on the subject of iron-gall ink. It was organized by the University of Northumbria's MA Conservation of Fine Art Department. Papers covered the chemical mechanisms of iron-gall ink, methods of analysis, and current and potential conservation treatments.

Speakers included David Dorning, Birgit Reissland, Rachel-Ray Cleveland, John Havermanns, Jane Colbourne, Jedert Vodopivec, Elmer Eusman, Alan Donnithorne, John Fields, Birgit Reissland, Han Neevel, and Jana Kolar.

Some of the findings reported: Sulphur was observed to migrate away from the ink along paper fibers, but iron only moved in the area immediately surrounding the ink, and was not likely to be deposited elsewhere during washing. Alan Donnithorne discussed nonaqueous repair using tissue coated with 5% Klucel G in ethanol. John Fields considered reviving nonaqueous deacidification with barium hydroxide, which had been used 1970-82, but had second thoughts when he found that pH had fallen below neutral for all objects treated with it, in the interim.

Birgit Reissland reported on side effects of aqueous treatment, which she recommended. In order to avoid color change in ink or paper during and after treatment, pH should be kept between 5.5 and 8.5, where the ink is stable. She recommended adding ethanol to the wash water, to reduce the tension between the degraded hydrophobic ink areas and the hydrophilic areas next to them. She also recommended immersion washing where possible, in water to which "benign alkaline salts" had been added, to prevent bleeding of the ink in "ion-hungry" water as the solubilized Fe++ ions move into the water. The use of phytate compounds had been explored to stabilize the ink by Han Neevel and a Slovenian research group, but none of the compounds had been found so far without faults.


"Preservation Hinging," by Hugh Phibbs, is a 30-page supplement to Picture Framing Magazine, in which the ads take up about ten pages. The diagrams are good, and the methods are numerous and ingenious.


Care of Photographic, Moving Image, & Sound Collections. Papers from the IPC Conference in York, England, July 20-24, 1998. Susie Clark, ed. ©Institute of Paper Conservation 1999. ISBN 0 9533229 1 2. 176 pp. £20 + p&h from IPH or from Archetype Publications (fax 44-207-380-0500 or e-mail:

The table of contents groups the 33 papers under the following headings:

Plastic supports and risk assessment
Digitization in the care of photographs
The conservation of digital output
Photographic conservation techniques (6 papers)
Care of film collections
Care of mixed collections
Preservation of modern media [i.e., modern audio tape]


"Digital Preservation," a brief passage in the 1999-2000 Annual Report of the Council on Library and Information Resources, as part of the section on "Preservation Awareness." Reprinted with permission.

"Among the most widely used techniques for managing long-term access to digital files is migration, i.e., the transfer of digitally encoded information from one hardware-software configuration to another. Migration is intended to keep selected digital information accessible by ensuring that hardware or software obsolescence does not strand files in unreadable formats. It is, in essence, a translation program, and, as is the case with all such programs, some measure of information is lost in the movement from one encoding scheme to another.

"CLIR commissioned the Cornell University Library to do a study of what could happen to digital files over time as a consequence of multiple migrations. The study was conducted over 18 months, and the results were reported in June 2000 in a publication entitled Risk Management of Digital Information: A File Format Investigation. This report provides tools for assessing risks to some standard formats and enabling managers to make informed decisions when implementing migration strategies."


The papers from the international digital preservation conference and the metadata workshop held in York in December are available at: There is also a detailed summary at:


At the ALA Midwinter meeting in Washington, DC, the Reformatting (Analog/Digital) Discussion Group had an interesting meeting about preservation of digital records.

Two of the speakers (Ken Thibodeau of the National Archives and Margaret Byrnes of the National Library of Medicine) described the directions their institutions were taking, which encouraged us to hope digital records could be made to last for longer than five years—much longer. Ken Thibodeaux said that archives are not well funded, so they compensate by forming partnerships. The Archives' Electronic Records Archives Program is using methods that have been worked out by NARA and other government departments (NASA, DARPA, San Diego Computer Center, National Science Foundation, Army Research Lab, Georgia Tech and InterPARES) for their various purposes. They deal with obsolescence by finding a way to preserve accessibility; overcoming obsolescence won't cut it. They are looking for a way to preserve records dynamically, using technology that has wide market support. Walter Cybulski posted URLs for four websites relevant to the Archives' approach after the meeting:

"Electronic Records Archives (ERA) Program"

"Collection-Based Persistent Archives"
by A. Rajasekar, R. Marciano and R. Moore

"Persistent Archives for Data Collections" by Reagan Moore

"Configuring and Tuning Archival Storage Systems" by Reagan Moore et al.

Margaret Byrnes described the National Library of Medicine's new rating system for permanence of its electronic information. The working group's Phase 2 report is at, but since "pubs" isn't linked to the home page, you may get a message that that site can't be found. So you have to find the "publications" category by yourself and click on "reports."

Groups that publish NLM information on the web assign permanence ratings to their information: a) identifier validity (transient vs. guaranteed), b) resource availability (ranging from no guarantee to permanently available) and c) content invariance (dynamic and stable files are described as growing or closed; and the third type of file is unchanging). A rating of "Permanence Not Guaranteed" means that identifier validity and/or resource availability could change.

The full proceedings of both the conference and the workshop will be made available on the RLG web site ( Preliminary accounts of both events have been published in DigiNews.


"The VidiPax Videotape Format and Preservation Guide" is not a book or booklet—not an article either—but it opens like a wallet or a menu with two narrow pages, and the right-hand one is hollow. It has an opening in it like a pocket without a bottom, through which you can read a card bearing 12 kinds of information for each of the 64 formats through little windows. You slide the card up or down. You can read through the windows on the other side too. The windows on both sides have labels like TAPE FORMAT NAME, INTRODUCTION DATE, MAJOR MANUFACTURERS, B&W/COLOR/LINES, and REEL/CASSETTE/CARTRIDGE. All 64 NTSC videotape formats introduced since 1956 are described. (Five new formats have been introduced in the year 2000 alone.) That's the format guide.

The preservation guide is on the inside of the front "cover." It includes one-paragraph guidelines based on the work of television and broadcast industry-wide committees, which cover the following topics: preservation, storage, videotape deterioration, videotape restoration, and preservation format. VidiPax invites comments or suggestions, because this is a "work in progress." They are at 450 West 31st St., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10001 (tel: 212/563-1999; fax: 212/563-1994; e-mail:; Web page:


Audio Preservation: A Selective Annotated Bibliography and Brief Summary of Current Practices. ALCTS Preservation and Reformatting Section, Photographic and Recording Media Committee, Audio Preservation Task Force (Robin Dale, Janet Gertz, Richard Peek and Mark Roosa). Chicago, 1998. 46 pp. ISBN 0-8389-7959-9. Available for $9 from ALA Order Dept., 155 N. Wacker Dr., Chicago, IL 60606 (tel: 800-545-2433, press 7. Fax: 312-836-9958).

There are eight sections to this booklet, starting with the introduction and ending with the index. A bibliography with its related section of nine generously annotated citations is one of the two longest sections. The annotated citations include the ARSC Associated Audio Archives Committee's 860-page planning study from 1988, the NBS study of polyester tape stability (1986), Cuddihy on aging of magnetic recording tape (1980), Chris Paton's 1991 article on preservation of acetate disc sound recordings at GSU, Pickett & Lemcoe (a 1991 reprint of the 1959 classic on preservation and storage of sound recordings), Van Bogart on magnetic tape storage and handling, and Alan Ward's manual of sound archive administration.

The unannotated part of the bibliography is divided into general works; description of media and formats; storage, housing, and handling; reformatting and transfer re-recording; technical studies; and bibliographies.

Then come two pages of standards, which could have used some annotation to point out which ANSI standards are similar to listed standards issued by other organizations.

Relevant journals are listed on one page, and organizations on three pages. The last section before the index is ten pages of detailed institutional information (contact persons, description of the collection, address, clientele, services, pay rates, preservation approaches taken, equipment, etc.) from six of the sound archives that participated in the ARSC/AAA NEH-funded planning study of 1988.


"Special Report on Audio-visual Carriers and Oral History," by Dietrich Schüller. International Preservation News [IFLA PAC], No. 21, May 2000, p. 4-9. 31 refs. Mostly in English; two French-language sidebars. (Heather McLaughlin wrote the companion piece that follows Schüller's, "Procedures for Safeguarding Endangered Oral Memory: The Cayman Islands Memory Bank." Reginald Clarke completes the trilogy with his "Old Gramophone Records? In the Name of Tradition, Preserve and Keep.")

Schüller covers preventive measures for preservation of AV materials in the tropics, with emphasis on dust, temperature and humidity, which are the hardest aspects of the environment to control there. Some of the damaging effects described are the sticky shed syndrome, fungus growth (which can clog replay heads) and signal print-through.

In practice, he says, very few audio-visual archives in tropical areas can afford to keep to the values published in the standards. Most frequently these archives a) do not use air conditioning, or b) have cooling equipment but switch it off at night, or c) cool the air but do not dehumidify it. The worst practice is the last one because it raises humidity, stimulates mold growth and drastically shortens the life of video cassettes.

Dust is a big problem in tropical countries because windows are kept open to circulate air, and dust settles on everything. Dust is "one of the greatest enemies of all audio-visual carriers and their equipment." On mechanical carriers and CDs it causes bad tracking; with magnetic tapes it causes head clogging. It scratches the surfaces of tapes, tape heads and tape guides. And storing audio records in plastic bags to protect them against dust is not a solution, because it encourages autocatalysis of cellulose acetate.

Under the circumstances, the authors recommend "radical thermal insulation" of buildings and rooms where these records are stored. Storage areas should be placed in the middle of buildings, away from outside walls. Native materials like adobe may work better than concrete. Secondary roofs and facades are most important. Methods of coping with poor budgets are suggested.

[This article, reprinted from the 1996 IASA Journal, is the best one on preservation in the tropics that I have seen, and I have been collecting material on the subject for years. -Ed.]

Other notable articles in this issue are:

"IFLA/UNESCO Survey on Digitisation and Preservation: Ultimate Considerations," by Sara Gould and Marie-Thérèse Varlamoff

"Blue Shield: Disaster Preparedness Workshop and Book Reviews," by George Mackenzie and Virginie Kremp. (Kremp reviews five disaster manuals published in five countries since 1994.)


Tradition and Innovation: Advances in Conservation, the proceedings of the IIC Melbourne conference, are on sale from the IIC office. ISBN 0-9500525-9-0. Editors: Ashok Roy and Perry Smith. 220 pp. with 12 color plates. Members: £25; nonmembers: £40.

Includes papers on the behavior of museum buildings in tropical climates, urban pollution control in museums, titanium dioxide as a catalyst for deterioration, optical brighteners, cleaning fire-damaged watercolor and textiles with atomic oxygen, micro-fading tests, laser technology in conservation; and "developing professional uncertainty."


Shelagh Smith's review of Cathleen Baker's book, By His Own Labor, the Biography of Dard Hunter, deserves a mention of its own. It can be found in the Winter 2000 CBBAG Newsletter, on p. 9-10. She says she loved the book (ISBN 1-58456-020-7, from Oak Knoll Books, $49.95).

Given the author's background as a paper conservator, educator and operator of the Legacy Press, "it was inevitable that this book would be thoroughly researched, reliable, and authoritative. It is also readable and entertaining, beautifully printed by the Stinehour Press, with 76 pages of color and black & white illustrations...." Introductory chapters by Timothy Barrett, Marie Via and a friend of Dard Hunter give the necessary background on hand papermaking and on Dard Hunter himself.

Shelagh reviews the massive amount of full-time work the author put in since 1993:, which included more than 18 months organizing the letters alone. Rather than covering his many-faceted life year by year, the author avoided confusion by giving each facet a separate chapter. The reviewer ends by saying, "I have not begun to touch on his [Hunter's] feats. You'll have to read the book."


The April 2001 issue of RLG DigiNews has two related feature articles, among others:

"Collecting and Preserving the Web: The Minerva Prototype," by William Y. Arms, Roger Adkins, Cassy Ammen and Allene Hayes
"Collecting and Preserving the Web: Developing and Testing the NEDLIB Harvester," by Juha Hakala.

This issue is available at preserv/diginews/for North American readers.


Collections Care Network (Upper Midwest Conservation Association), 2001 #1, answers a Frequently Asked Question on p. 4-5: "We have a collection of glass plate negatives that we'd like to clean. What's the best way to go about this?"

The experts who helped answer this FAQ were:

Lee Ann Daffner, conservator of photographs at the Museum of Modern Art in New York; Deborah Hess Norris, Conservator of Photographs and Director of the Art Conservation Graduate Program at the University of Delaware; Doug Nishimura of the Image Permanence Institute at RIT; and Heida Shoemaker, Conservator of Paper and Photographs in private practice, Berkeley, California.

Since it is hard to do justice to a text like this in the summary that follows, readers may want to have copies of their own. The UMCA Field Services Dept. is at 612/870-3128 or e-mail, and they do serve conservators outside their geographical area.

Cleaning glass plate negatives is not a straightforward process. There are two different kinds of glass plate negatives: the wet collodion negative, introduced in the 1850s, and the dry-plate glass negative, developed in the 1880s. Even experts sometimes have trouble telling them apart. It helps to have a date of production, because any plate made before 1881 had to be a wet-collodion negative. After that date, most but not all of them were dry-plate negatives. Dry-plate glass negatives were mass-produced in factories, so the glass was thinner, came in uniform sizes, and had evenly cut edges; the gelatin coating is uniform and smooth.

It is especially important to identify the emulsion side, learn whether it is gelatin or collodion, and protect it from scratches or fingerprints. Never clean a glass plate negative if the emulsion or collodion is bubbling or separating from the glass; leave that for a conservator. Handle the plates carefully; old glass can be extremely brittle.

Never use any liquid cleaners on either side, because they may dissolve the image. Blow dust from both surfaces with an air bulb. To clean the emulsion side, "dab and trap debris and particulate matter with a very soft round makeup brush"; never drag a brush across it.

Four-flap enclosures are good for storage and will keep the glass plates clean. They must be made of pH neutral, lignin-free, nonbuffered paperboard that passes the P.A.T. test. MicroChamber and MicroChamber/Silversafe enclosures give good protection ( Avoid glassine negative holders and paper or board with watermarks in them because they affect the image. For the relevant ISO standard on this, visit the website

Stand the glass plate negatives upright in archival boxes. Store those with separating emulsions carefully and separately from those in sound condition. The best RH is 35-40% and best temperature is 65-68°F.


Albumen Photographs: History, Science and Preservation is a new web site at It was announced in February by Paul Messier on the DistList.

The site features 19th Century primary source materials, contemporary research, a gallery, and video of albumen print manufacture. In addition, there is an interactive treatment forum for conservators to discuss preservation issues pertaining to albumen photographs. The site will be of interest to students, historians, scientists, curators, collection managers, and conservators.

The site was created through a partnership of art conservators backed by institutional support. The site is the work of private conservators Timothy Vitale and Paul Messier teamed with Walter Henry, Acting Head of Media Preservation, Stanford University Libraries, and John Burke, Chief Conservator, Oakland Museum of California.

The project was funded through a grant received from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training. The site is hosted and maintained by the Stanford University Libraries. The Monterey Museum of Art sponsored the project under the direction of Richard Gadd, who also contributed an online exhibition. More information is at (Yes, the DistList announcement gives the 2000 date.)


A pageful of conservation websites can be found in the WAAC Newsletter, v. 23 #1, Jan. 2001. Some of those listed are; Ancient Chemical Terms; ASHRAE Journal: Practical Guide to Building Controls; Merck Index; Packing and Shipping Paper Artifacts [NEDCC];NIOSH; and Intro to the Physics of the Museum Environment [Tim Padfield].


A quite readable "History of Websites" by Tim Vitale takes up most of the Electronic Media Group's column in the March AIC Newsletter. It is intended to prepare EMG members for the session on Website Preservation at the AIC Annual Meeting.

Most of this column, however, describes the factors that go into the appearance of a website, the difference between archiving and caching, what backups can and can't save, what it takes to remove all traces of a website from existence, and how unwanted content is removed from a website.


Rate of Paper Degradation: The Predictive Value of Artificial Aging Tests, by Henk J. Porck. European Commission on Preservation and Access, 2000. 40 pp. ISBN 90-6984-306-4. Distributed in Europe by ECPA, and in all other countries by the Council on Library and Information Resources, 1755 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20036.

Previous research reported in about 45 studies was done using a great variety of aging conditions, which are listed with the application of the research and the abbreviated reference, e.g. "90°C, lighting, 3-30d - effect cellulose ethers on discoloration - Feller 1990." (Full references are given on p. 29-38.) Of course, in the 40 years during which all this research was performed, aging standards and preferences changed, and the consensus is greater within shorter periods of time.

Four conclusions are drawn from this review of the research on aging:

The author recommends better exchange of knowledge and experience in the field among conservation scientists and policy makers, and more research on predicting the effects of natural aging of paper.

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