The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 25, Number 5
Feb 2002


LC Awards PTLP its 3rd Deacidification Contract

The Library of Congress has awarded a 3-year contract to Pittsburgh-based Preservation Technologies L.P. It will save 1 million books and at least 5 million manuscript sheets from further acid deterioration. (Previous contracts were for 400,000 volumes.)

Under the new contract, the Library will continue to provide training and oversight to PTLP staff who select books for treatment: charge out, pack, and ship volumes to the deacidification plant in Cranberry township, Pennsylvania; and then reshelve books following treatment. Library staff provide contract administration and quality control over the selection and refiling of books; they have also developed procedures to capture information about each deacidified book in the Library's bibliographic database.

Preservation Technologies has developed new horizontal treatment cylinders for loose manuscripts and unbound materials. One of these, along with a Bookkeeper spray booth, will be installed in a Library building on Capitol Hill, for the Library to use in treating large quantities of paper-based materials in nonbook formats. For more information, go to

UT Preservation & Conservation Studies Program Invites Applications for Fall

The University of Texas is currently accepting qualified applicants for admission in Fall, 2002. The application deadline is April 15, 2002, but the program will work individually with applicants who may have concerns about meeting the prerequisites by the April date.

For more information, visit <>, or call directly at 512/471-8290. David B. Gracy II is the Director of the Center for the Cultural Record, which includes Archival and Records Enterprise, Preservation and Conservation Studies, and Museum Studies.

Three Electronic Archiving Projects Described

At the January 20 program held during the ALA Midwinter 2002 Conference, three speakers described their separate ongoing electronic archiving projects, to explore the issues publishers and librarians face in ensuring long-term access to digital resources.

The main issues addressed were 1) a cost-effects business model for archiving, 2) ensuring the rights and responsibilities of publishers and libraries, and 3) identifying and framing new standards to support digital archival repositories.

Dale Flecker described Harvard's study on how to archive electronic journals. He noted that common practices would streamline the archiving effort; for example, use of a common DTD (document type definition).

Karen Hunter of Elsevier Science reported on the Yale Library/Elsevier Science Digital Preservation Collaboration, which is funded by a Mellon Foundation grant. The archive would be responsible for file migration, and standards are seen as the key to success. Economic and access issues have not yet been explored.

George Barnum of the U.S. Government Printing Office reported on the OCLC Web Document Digital Archive, a GPO/OCLC collaboration to archive electronic government publications. Because the government's web documents are administered by hundreds of different people, the job of "making it all and keeping it forever" is very difficult. They focus on offsite vendor maintained archives, toolkits for all associated procedures, identification of a set of preservation metadata, and the integration of workflow and tools.

[Note: RLG recently created a discussion list ( for individuals and institutions who are actively working with the Open Archival Information Reference Model to help them build and manage their own digital archive or repository. To subscribe, send the following message to

Subscribe oais-implementers<FirstName LastName>.]

Courses at SCMRE

The Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education (SCMRE) will be giving nine conservation courses between March 11 and October 25 this year, most of them relevant to book and paper conservation. Some of the courses are only one day long, but four of them are 3-5 days long:

History, Technology, and Preservation of Specialty Papers, Archives Materials, and Ephemera - May 6-10
Polarized Light Microscopy—Fundamentals and Applications - July 8-12, 2002
Enzymes and their Use in Conservation: A Lecture and Workshop Series for Mid-Career Conservators - July 23-25
History, Technology, and Preservation of Paper-Based Artifacts - Oct. 21-25

For more information, see <URL:>.

Another Mail Delivery Problem: Important Deadlines Missed

Penny Jones, at the AIC office, sent the following notice to AIC members January 15:

FYI - Re: Mail problems in DC for Federal Agencies
While the hundreds of thousands of pieces of mail that have not been delivered to Congress since the anthrax scare began in October have been highly publicized in the media, the more general problem of undelivered mail for federal agencies in Washington is less widely known. Scholars and others in the humanities community who have made grant applications, filed for copyright, or made other time-sensitive requests to federal agencies may want to check on the status of these requests by e-mail, telephone, or other communication means than through the US Post Office.
Most agencies, including the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress, have information about the problems with the mail on their web pages with suggested alternatives.
And e-mail problems for the National Park Service... Park Service employees have not had e-mail service since December 6, when a federal judge ordered the Interior Department to shut down internet lines in response to alleged mismanagement of Indian Trust Funds. The court order also impacts the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The websites are also down. Anyone with applications or other business pending with these agencies should contact them by telephone or fax.

Irradiated Mail is Causing Problems on Capitol Hill

Ellen Gamerman's article in The Baltimore Sun, which ran in the February 23rd Austin American-Statesman, discusses the health concerns being raised by more than 150 congressional staffers regarding irradiated government mail. Recently, the staffers handling this mail, as well as postal workers at a suburban Maryland mail facility, have begun complaining that it is making them ill.

They cite symptoms, such as skin irritation, nausea, tingling, bleeding and a metallic taste in their mouths, which can last up to 24 hours. The symptoms begin after touching the mail and subside as long as contact with the mail is avoided. The congressional staffers began noticing these symptoms last month after postal services resumed on Capitol Hill.

The Postal Service insists the irradiated mail is perfectly safe and investigators have suggested that some of the symptoms may be the result of winter colds or flu. Gerry Kreinkamp, a Postal Service spokesman, stated, "If [mail handlers] feel like they've had an adverse reaction to dry mail, use moisturizer."

At the urging of Capitol Hill staffers, the Office of Compliance is launching an independent investigation into the matter.

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