The Alkaline Paper Advocate

Volume 1, Number 3
May 1988

NHPRC Subvention Guidelines

A little-known government agency is widely recognized as having provided the motivation for most university presses to use permanent paper by making this a condition for receiving its grant money. The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), a part of the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, began in 1978 to encourage university and other nonprofit presses to publish historical documents by promising to make up any losses they incurred, up to a limit. It had always encouraged such publications, but had never made use of permanent paper a condition of grant support before 1978.

Of course university presses publish other things besides historical documents, but apparently it has been easier to keep on using the required paper consistently than to switch back and forth.

The first page of the NHPRC subvention guidelines are given below. The technical specifications (called "standards") are full of errors: T 435 should be T 509 m-83; no minimum percent of carbonates is specified; groundwood is permitted; no tear specs are given; and T 551 should be T51 om-83. The 1978 version had fewer errors. In another ten years, these specs may have deteriorated so far that no one can take then at face value. Now that ANSI Z39.48-1984 is available, NHPRC could save itself a lot of trouble by simply referring to it. (There are problem with ANSI Z39-48 too, but they are minor, and ANSI will no doubt catch them in its next regular review of the standard.) In any case, the NHPRC guidelines have been effective, even with all their faults, because they were tied to positive sanctions.

National Historical Publications And Records Commission

Subvention Program Guidelines

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission will consider applications from university and other nonprofit presses for the subvention of part of the costs of manufacturing and disseminating volumes that have been formally endorsed by the Commission. These grants, not to exceed $12,000 per volume, are made to promote the widest possible use of Commission-sponsored documentary editions. Thus, the Commission encourages vigorous and innovative marketing efforts to reach scholars, teachers, and all others for when these editions have considerable value. The grants are also made to encourage the highest archival permanence standards in the production of the volumes, particularly the quality of paper, printing, and binding.

Conditions for Subsidy Support

Publishers applying to the Commission under this program must do so before actual publication of volumes for which subsidies are requested. All subvention applications submitted to the Commission will be reviewed by a panel of individuals knowledgeable in the field of scholarly publishing. A volume receiving Commission subvention support must be published within 18 months of the receipt of the manuscript by the press. All volumes for which subsidies are requested must be produced under the following archival permanence standards:

Paper - Book text paper should have minimum pH of 7.5 (cold extraction, Tappi method T-435)
    minimum alkaline reserve (calcium, or magnesium carbonate, or both)
    minimum C.D. (Cross Direction) folding endurance of 30 double folds at 1 kilogram tension (25 replicates, TAPPI method T-551)
Printing - Inks which contain acids or chlorides should not be used in the production of these volumes.
Binding - Books should be Smythe-sewn and casebound and have acid-free endpapers, no synthetic fabrics, and no polyvinyl chloride adhesives....
  Both hardback and paperback editions are eligible for support under this program. Paperback editions should observe the quality paper standards listed above.

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