The Alkaline Paper Advocate

Volume 4, Number 2
May 1991


William E. Scott. Properties of Paper: An Introduction. Atlanta: TAPPI, 1989. 170 pp., 272 figs. ISBN 0-89852052-5. $61 for TAPPI members, $91 nonmembers; call 800/ 332-8686.

Reviewed by Ellen McCrady

This is a slim book for a fat price. Whether its virtues outweigh its faults or vice versa, and whether there is another book in print that will serve the purpose, are questions to consider.

The author is a good teacher and a clear writer who covers all the high points that a beginner needs to know in order to get a toehold in this field. No prior knowledge is assumed. There is a detailed table of contents, which is good (especially considering that the index is too skimpy), though the detail is a bit overdone: six entries for a single page are not uncommon. Each chapter has references at the end, and there is also an annotated general bibliography at the end of the book, with addresses for the periodicals (several of which lack the zip or street address).

The chapters cover paper manufacturing, structure, cal properties, appearance, influence of the environment, barrier and resistance properties, paper property fundamentals, automated paper testing and property requirements of different kinds of papers. Permanence is covered under influence of the environment. Testing for pH is not covered anywhere in the book, apparently, though it is briefly mentioned under permanence, and the TAPPI Test Methods are referred to.

Now for the bad news. First, the editing is bad, as if the book had been edited in too much of a hurry by someone who did not know the importance of a professionally done index or clear illustrations. The index does not have much more than 150 entries in it, which is not even enough for a 40-page book, let alone a 170-page book, especially one that will be used as a textbook by beginners. Words that should be in it are missing, e.g., alum and refining. Some of the illustrations are hard to make out because they look like fifth-generation photocopies (p. 13, 31); text is missing on the bottom of p. 36; a number is missing from the diagram on p. 8; the word "not" is omitted from Figure 1.31, changing the meaning of a phrase; Figure 1.18 was accidentally duplicated as Figure 1.24; referral is made an p. 50 to Figure 0.2, but there is no such figure; and so on.

Next, and last, the section an permanence is not long or accurate enough to be useful for the librarians and conservators who subscribe to this Newsletter. It defines permanence, or rather, says permanence has been defined as, the resistance of paper to chemical deterioration by its environment; but there are some factors in deterioration that are built into the paper, such as low pH or the presence of heavy metals. Figure 5.12, "Manufacturing Variables that Influence Paper Permanence," is a good start, but far too short. It includes degree of bleaching but not type of bleaching agent; type of size and filler but not pH; degree of drying but not temperature; and type of pulp used, but not lignin, hemicelluloses, metals, microbes, or borohydride. The author may have been trying not to overwhelm the student with too many facts, but he tried too hard.

Sunlight is cited as a cause of cellulose degradation, but it would be more correct to say that light is a basic cause, and any light with a strong UV component is especially bad. Carbon dioxide, but not ozone, is given as a harmful pollutant. (Carbon dioxide does not harm paper, but ozone does.) Dry accelerated aging is mentioned, but not moist aging. Figure 5.14 is mislabeled.

In summary: This book is worth buying, if you have enough money; but there should be more of everything but the table of contents, and someone should do some good editorial housekeeping on it before it is reprinted.

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