The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 26, Number 2
Aug 2002


EC Funds Cooperative Research on Iron Gall Ink Stabilization

In March 2002, a new research project began, supported by the European Commission's Fifth Framework Program. (This research project contributes to the implementation of the Key Action The City of Tomorrow and Culture Heritage, within Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development.)

The EC's maximum financial contribution for the three-year project, "InkCor-: Stabilization of Iron Gall Ink-Containing Paper," amounts to 973,573 Euros. Its purpose is to significantly improve present knowledge of the ink corrosion process and establish best conservation practices. Historical ink recipes will be surveyed, and inks in original documents will be chemically analyzed. Simple tests that could be used on originals in conservation labs will be developed. Because of the corrosive properties of the ink components, a nonaqueous conservation method will be developed. The new treatment will be based on a combined action of alkali and antioxidants, appropriate for mass conservation and individual items, bound volumes and water sensitive items.

Partners in the project are the treatment and/or research units in the following institutions and organizations:

National and University Library, Slovenia
Netherland Institute for Cultural Heritage
University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
Zentrum für Bucherhaltung, Germany
Institut "Josef Stefan", Slovenia
Musée du Louvre, France
Nationaal Archief, The Netherlands
Teyler Museum, The Netherlands.

PCS Students' Summer 2002 Internships

In their last year of studies at the University of Texas Preservation and Conservation Program, students serve a summer internship at a major institution. During the summer of 2002, there were five interns. Their place of internship and the supervisor they worked under, were:

April Smith - Library of Congress/Maria Nugent
Ann Lindsey - Newberry Library/Susan Rusick
Sarah Reidell - Harvard U. Libs./P. Spitzmueller
Nora Lockshin - Am. Mus. Nat. Hist./Barb Rhodes
Sara Holmes - Missouri State Archives/Lisa Fox

INFOSAVE, a Program for UK's Deacidification Facility

Resource, the Council for Museums, Archives and Library in Britain, will fund current work in the ongoing program (known as INFOSAVE), to establish a facility for mass deacidification to serve the UK.

The National Preservation Office will be the managing consultant for this project, now in its third phase. It will develop a technical specification for deacidification of brittle paper in post-1850 books and manuscripts; identify a pilot batch of materials suitable for mass treatment; negotiate with the commercial suppliers to carry out the test trial; review the outcomes of the test and refine the technical specification; and prepare an outline funding proposal for a collaborative bid for a mass deacidification system.

For more information, contact Alison Walker, National Preservation Office, The British Library, 96 Euston Rd., London NW1 2DB (tel. 020 7412 7612; fax: 020 7412 7796; e-mail

Gutenberg Goes Digital

The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin has completed scanning its Gutenberg Bible using the most up-to-date digital technologies. Image Retrieval, Inc. of Carrollton, Texas allowed the Ransom Center staff to use one of its Digibook scanners, produced by the French firm of i2S-Bookscanner, to capture each of the Gutenberg Bible's 1,200 pages.

Scanning the Gutenberg Bible took less than a day because the scanner speed averaged eight pages per second, according to Sheree Scarborough of the Ransom Center. In the following four to six weeks, the Center is working on creating kiosks so that the Gutenberg Bible can be displayed permanently.

"We want to have a way for the viewer to turn the pages digitally," said Scarborough. "But that won't be until the Spring [of 2003]."

Permanent Paper Project in Pondicherry

The handmade paper Unit of the Archives and Research Library of Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry is planning to produce permanent paper for housing the manuscripts of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother (both highly religious personalities born at the end of the 19th century) and its photographic collection. So far the mill has produced acidic paper. Since last year, steps have been taken to produce samples of alkaline-sized, acid-free buffered papers.

The aim is to incorporate advanced technology of pulp preparation, pulp screening, pulp consistency regulation, removal of magnetic contraries, basis weight and caliper control so as to meet international standards for the production of papers, archival papers, paperboards, and boards covering a range of neutral, alkaline and buffered alkaline grades. The Unit intends to provide other institutions in India with an "indigenous" alternative to costly imported materials.

More from Nina Jethwa at: Archives and Research Library, Ari Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry 605002, South India.

CCAHA's Preservation Overview Surveys Continue

Generous funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is allowing the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) to continue its Preservation Overview Survey Program for paper-based collections. The CCAHA is seeking institutions that wish to receive a full day's review of its preservation needs for a greatly reduced rate ($350).

Surveys can assist institutions in setting priorities for preservation and in developing a preservation program for collections. A limited number of subsidized surveys are available through the NEH grant, so institutions are encouraged to apply soon. Applying institutions should own a paper-based humanities collection that is available to the public and has historical and educational significance. Contact the Preservation Services Office at the CCAHA by phone: 215/545-0613; fax: 215/735-9313; or e-mail:

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