The international standard for paper permanence, ISO 9706, has been approved by the ISO Central Secretariat. As soon as it is published, some months from now, any country can adopt it as their own. Several countries have been doing without a standard, or using the standards of other countries, in anticipation of this development.
CEN, the European standards body, decided in 1990 not to write its own standard, but to wait for the ISO standard then in the works. All CEN members are required to adopt any standard accepted by CEN.
The full title of the new standard is "ISO 9706 Information and Documentation--Paper for Documents--Requirements for Permanence." ("Document" is defined as "paper upon which information is recorded," so it includes books too.) It was drawn up by a working group called "ISO/TC 46/SC 10/WG 1," which, translated, means:
International Organization for Standardization
Technical Committee 46
Working Group 1.
Its members are drawn from collection-holding institutions, the paper industry, and related organizations, and come from a dozen or so countries, including the U.S. Rolland Aubey of Wisconsin is the U.S. delegate to SC 10, and Rolf Dahlø of Norway is the SC 10 convener (chair). Per Olof Bethge of Sweden is the WG 1 convener.
The new standard's requirements in the next-to-last revision, which are probably unchanged in the final version, are very similar to those of ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992. They cover tear resistance, alkaline reserve (2%), resistance to oxidation (kappa number less than 5.0) and pH 7.5 to 10.0 for both inner and outer layers of the paper (by aqueous extract, or manufacturers' certification). Since use of standards is voluntary, U.S. paper buyers may refer to ISO 9706, ANSI/NISO Z39.48, or any other standard they choose.
Subcommittee 10 is now working on a standard for archival paper (i.e., paper for very long-term use and storage). The draft bears the title, "Archival Requirements for Permanence and Durability." Round robin testing of cotton fiber archival papers has been done for SC 10, including testing of four fold testing instruments. The Subcommittee agrees that a) one of the requirements should be that papers should conform to ISO 9706, b) fiber should be cotton, hemp, flax or ramie, with a small amount of chemical wood pulp permitted to enhance working properties of the paper, and c) a fold test will be required. [Reprinted, with revisions, from the Abbey Newsletter v.17 #2, July 1993. p. 17.]