The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 25, Number 6
Apr 2002


Heritage Health Index Planned

Collections in American archives, historical societies, libraries and museums will be surveyed to determine their condition and needs. Heritage Preservation (HP) is coordinating the Heritage Health Index, in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, with major funding from the Getty Grant Program.

The Heritage Health Index is expected to provide a national context for institutions to evaluate their progress, and to improve long-range planning in preservation and conservation. It is also expected to inform decision makers and funders of the need for additional resources, and educate the public about the critical functions that collecting institutions perform to preserve our nation's heritage.

HP has invited feedback from an Institutional Advisory Group made up of organizations that the survey will cover. HP has also convened nine working groups to discuss the preservation issues the survey should address and retained a research and consulting firm to advise on the statistical validity and design of the survey.

The Regional Alliance for Preservation (RAP), a coalition of regional conservation and preservation centers, is cooperating with HP by serving on the Institutional Advisory Committee. Ann Russell, Director of NEDCC, is the RAP representative on the committee.

Scholarships for Preservation Training

The National Endowment for the Humanities and the New Jersey Historical Commission are providing scholarship money for Rutgers University's Preservation Management Institute. Details are available at the Institute's website:; or from Karen Novick, Director of Professional Development Studies, School of Communication, Information and Library Studies, at Rutgers (732/932-7169; fax 732/932-9314;

NY Academy of Medicine Wins Award

The New York Academy of Medicine has been awarded the American Institute for Conservation/ Heritage Preservation Joint Award for Outstanding Commitment to the Preservation and Care of Collections.

This prestigious award "recognized an organization that has been exemplary in the importance and priority it has given to conservation concerns and in the commitment it has shown to the preservation and care of its cultural property."

The staff of the New York Academy of Medicine Gladys Brooks Book and Paper Conservation Laboratory are: Elaine R. Schlefer, administrator; Susan B. Martin, conservator; and Anne Hillam, conservator.

Digital Activities Increasingly Popular

The December issue of International Preservation News is devoted to digitization and microfilming, which sometimes overlap each other. (Helsinki University Library, for instance, is digitizing some newspaper collections from the microfilm copies.)

Pages 4-20 of this IPN issue are on digitization and related matters. The news stories come out of Sweden, Australia (where the PANDORA project is building an archive of selected online publications), Finland, and Portugal (where they are satisfied with the microfilm copies they make and have no plans to digitize).

Columbia University Libraries Get 3 Grants

In March, Columbia University Libraries received $143,990 from the New York State Program for a two-year cooperative project to microfilm about 1,560 brittle business serial volumes published in New York City since 1870. This is the third phase of the project, a cooperative one with the New York Public Library, which is contributing volumes to fill out incomplete runs.

The second grant is for a one-year cooperative project to photocopy brittle reference materials. Three libraries (Columbia, NYPL, and the University of Rochester) are the partners on this project; all contribute volumes, but Columbia also manages the project.

In addition to these projects, Columbia is cooperating with NYU, the University of Rochester, and NYPL in a New York State project to deacidify 1,700 acidic-paper Urdu volumes from Columbia's collection over three years. The project is funded at $67,900.

DLF Endorses Two Aids for Digital Collections

The Digital Library Federation (DLF) has formally endorsed two new guidelines for research libraries that digitize books and other material for online use. One is a set of principles for good digital collections, assembled by members of a Digital Library Forum convened by the IMLS, a granting agency for libraries and museums. Titled "A Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections," it can be found at

The other aid is a set of technical specifications for achieving fidelity in digitizing printed works: "Benchmark for Digital Reproductions of Monographs and Serials." These specifications are intended to make sure that patrons can access the publications at different sites and in different systems, without loss of fidelity. This is at

North Bennet Street School has New Schedule

Beginning with the 2002-2003 school year, the bookbinding program at the North Bennet Street School will run for nine months instead of ten, and will conclude at the end of May. The content of the course and the number of hours of class time will not change, as the school day will be extended to 2:30 pm.

This change will allow the students more time to intern over the summer and will also allow the school to increase the summer workshop offerings. Questions may be sent to Bookbinding Instructor Mark Andersson at <>.

Bruce Arnold Heads ASTM Paper Group

R. Bruce Arnold, president of R.B. Arnold Associated in West Chester, Pa., now chairs ASTM Committee D06 on Paper and Paper Products. He has a BS in mechanical engineering and an MS in pulp and paper technology. He is a member of TAPPI and several paper industry societies.

D06, a committee of 80 members, develops specifications, sampling and test methods, and terminology for paper and paper products. In the 1960s, chaired by William K. Wilson, it began working on several standards for paper permanence, at the request of the National Archives. By 1997, ASTM had eight paper permanence standards:

D 4988, Test Method for Determination of Calcium Carbonate Content (Alkaline Reserve of Paper).
D 6043, Guide for Selection of Permanent and Durable Artist Paper. This is up for revision and reapproval.
D 5634, Guide for Selection of Permanent and Durable Offset and Book Papers. This is up for revision and reapproval.
D 3290, Specification for Bond and Ledger Papers for Permanent Records.
D 3458, Specification for Copies from Office Copying Machines for Permanent Records.
D 3301, Specification for File Folders for Storage of Permanent Records.
D 3208, Specification for Manifold Papers for Permanent Records.
D 5634, Guide for Selection of Permanent and Durable Offset and Book Papers.

These standards may be ordered individually or together in the Annual Book of ASTM Standards, Volume 15.09, by calling 610-832-9500 (fax: 610-832-9555).

Canadians Honored for Paper Permanence Research

The CCI (Canadian Conservation Institute) Newsletter for December 2001 reported that five CCI employees had been honored in June 2001 for the work they had done on the Permanent Paper Research Project, cooperatively with the Pulp & Paper Research Institute of Canada (Paprican). The project found that it is the acid content, rather than lignin, that is the main factor in the longevity of paper. This finding led to a new Canadian Standard in September 2000 (CAN/CGSB-9.70-2000, Permanence of Paper for Records, Books).

The team included CCI's Paul Begin (team leader), David Grattan, and Joe Iraci.

The Effect of RH on Ink Jet Prints

The National Preservation Office Journal for April 2001 carried a report on an October 2000 conference on preservation issues related to digital printing, which relate to some recent discussion on the Conservation DistList. The report says, in part:

Andrew Robb (Senior Photograph Conservator, Library of Congress) has done research into the effect of relative humidity (RH) on ink jet prints. Hinging and mending, and relaxing and flattening such prints can be difficult due to the adverse effects of moisture. The magenta dye used in the printing is a very small molecule, which is very soluble.

Robb found that at exposure to RH levels above 65%, there were perceptible shifts in the magenta color. It was observed that at 80% RH the magenta had shifted again, resulting in a print with warmer tone, and at 95% a blue cast was seen, as the magenta had been completely lost. Test samples were clearly affected after short exposures. Robb recommended storage conditions of 45% RH at 218C, with packaging, to protect against flood or HVAC failure.

Martin Juergens has created an identification guide website for ink jet prints:

A Problematical Recovery from Fire

The fire occurred in August 1994 in a law archive in Liestal, Switzerland, affecting 20 tons of archival material. That was a long time ago, but there were many obstacles, large expenses, and the recovery seems to have taken years.

First, the books were damaged by fire and smoke, then wet by firehoses. It was summer, and it took five days to move the affected materials from the building. They were freeze-dried, but afterwards, they all had an unbearable smell (probably of smoke). So an ion generator was used to see if it would remove the smell, but it did not; so they finally had to fall back on microfilm. The cost altogether was 590,000 Swiss Francs.

[Apologies for the translation from German to English, which may be inaccurate. The original is in Restauro for Jan. 2002, p. 11. -Ed.]

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