The Alkaline Paper Advocate

Volume 1, Number 1
Jan 1988

Government Standards Seen as Deficient

The Depository Library Council is an organization of libraries that are obliged by law to preserve the Government documents deposited there. They have an uphill job--some would say impossible--because of the poor quality of paper an which the documents are printed. At its October meeting, Council members unanimously passed the following recommendation:

The Depository Library Council recommends that the Public Printer convey to the Joint Committee on Printing [the Congressional body responsible for government paper standards] Council's concern for the archival value of government publications. Once a specification for paper permanence is formally adopted by the Joint Committee on Printing, the Depository Library Council records that the Public Printer notify government publishers of the availability of permanent paper and the benefits of using it. The Depository Library Council records that the Government Printing Office encourage the use of permanent paper for publications with enduring research value.

It is interesting to compare the government standards with the Barrow, ANSI and ASTM standards on pH, buffering, and choice of strength measures. 1. Government Paper Specification Standards. Offset Book, JCP A60.

pH: Average not less than 4.5
Buffering: Not mentioned
Strength measures: Burst and tensile

2. The Barrow "standards" as updated by the lab and published in American Archivist 38, 405-416, 1975. They were a bit stiffer than the 1%0 standards.

pH: 7.5 minimum
Buffering: Not mentioned, but implied; Barrow always had buffering in papers made for his use.
Strength measures: Tear, fold, folding endurance after aging (both using a 1 kg weight)

3. ANSI Z39.48-1984, Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials.

pH: Minimum 7.5 cold extraction
Buffering: Equivalent to 27. calcium carbonate
Strength measures: Fold and tear

4. ASTM D 3458-75, Standard Specification for Copies from Office Copying Machines for Permanent Records. Uds is one of four ASTM permanence standards. Three levels of permanence are specified; the highest one is described here.

pH: 7.5 to 9.5
Buffering: Equivalent to 2% calcium carbonate
Strength measures: Tear (two values are given, for paper that will see ordinary use and paper that will see high use); fold (high-use paper only; ordinary-use paper has no spec for folding endurance); and fold and tear after aging (80% retention)

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