The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 8, Number 4
Jul 1984


New Standards in the Works

Accelerated Aging for Paper: a Report From William K. Wilson

The International Standards Organization (ISO) has developed one accelerated aging procedure for paper and is in the process of developing three more. The one that has been adopted is the classical 105°C test in a dry oven. This is simple, and can be performed in any laboratory. Another procedure that is in the latter stages of development requires a temperature of 90°C at 25% relative humidity. These conditions appear to correlate best with natural aging in a temperate zone.

A third method that is in the "middle" stages of the ISO consensus procedure uses 80°C at 65% relative humidity. These conditions are thought to correlate better with natural aging in humid areas of the world. As cellulose is very sensitive to moisture during aging, this appears to be a valid assumption. A fourth method that also is just starting through the ISO procedure is a high-temperature method for evaluation of the stability of electrical papers. The aging temperature may be either 1200 or 1500, and at these temperatures moisture is not a consideration.

Moist aging atmospheres have not been popular because the precise control of relative humidity is difficult to achieve. Constant temperature baths are messy to maintain and use, but very precise when properly used. Humid ovens are easy to use, and probably can achieve acceptable control at higher humidities, but are not as precise as constant temperature baths.

Another approach to aging is to seal the paper in a vessel after it has been brought to moisture equilibrium in a conditioned room. If the vessel is filled with paper and sealed, the paper will maintain practically the same moisture content that it had in the conditioned room. The paper can then be aged by placing it in an oven or constant temperature bath.

[Mr. Wilson, the Convenor of ISO's Accelerated Aging Working Group, is just back from the ISO meeting in Australia. He is a guest worker at the National Archives, and lives at 1401 Kurtz Road, McLean, VA 22101.]

Environmental Conditions for Storage of Paper-Based Library Materials

This standard is being prepared by Subcommittee R of the newly incorporated and renamed Committee Z39 of ANSI. Z39's new name is NISO (National Information Standards Organization - Library and Information Sciences and Related Publishing Practices). The chairman of Subcommittee R is Paul Banks. A first draft of this standard has been prepared and will be distributed for comment and/or vote during 1984.

Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials

NISO Subcommittee 5, chaired by Gay Walker, has finished work on this standard and expects it to be published by ANSI in the fall. It states minimum requirements for acidity, folding endurance, tear resistance, alkaline reserve, and stock for a paper that will last "several hundred years under normal conditions of library circulation and storage without significant deterioration." A statement or symbol of adherence to these standards is recommended, to appear on the masthead or verse of the title page. The statement is:

The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, Z39.48, 1984.

The symbol is an infinity sign in a circle: Infinity

A Standard NOT in the Works: an Editorial

The Federal government sets its own standards for paper used in government offices and by government contractors. In view of the fact that Federal archives are responsible for preserving the moat significant paperwork (along with maps, photographs and other records) indefinitely for the use of administrators, scholars and citizens, one would expect the government to be setting high standards for paper permanence. Not so. Instead of alkaline pH or percent calcium carbonate, it specifies rag content in various proportions depending on the intended use of the paper. Measures of quality tend to be old- fashioned. In the 1981 standards, the minimum pH varies between 4.5 and 6.0, depending on the use.

Although these standards are better than no standards at all, this is no excuse for not keeping up with the times, considering how much is at stake. The government is in a position to be a leader, doing immense amounts of good with relatively little effort in this field. Instead, it almost seems as if it tailors its specifications for the convenience of its contractors.

In its final report in 1982, the CLR Committee on Production Guidelines for Book Longevity said:

The U.S. Government is the largest publisher in the United States, and nearly all of its productions are on highly acidic paper. We encourage libraries to make their voices hoard to the Joint Committee on Printing and to other government agencies issuing documentary publications of long-range importance.

Perhaps if libraries and archives could exert a little joint political pressure, they could got those standards revised. Over the years, this would result in a savings in expenditures on retrospective conservation.

Government paper standards are actually written by a technical subcommittee of the JCP's Committee on Paper Specifications, but the JCP is made up of senators and congressmen who are responsible to the people for what their committees produce. It publishes the Government Paper Specification Standards, which can be ordered for about $25 from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402. The order number is 301-494.

In the last five years, the JCP has been expanded from six members to ten. It is in Room S-151, The Capitol, Washington, DC 20510, and its phone number is 202/224-5241. The Chairman is Augustus F. Hawkins (Rep., CA) and the Vice Chairman is Charles Mathias Jr. (Sen., MD). Both have been on the Joint Committee for Printing for at least three years. Members with three years or more of experience are Ed Jones (Rep., TN), Lynn Martin (Rep., IL), Mark Hatfield (Sen., OR), Wendell Ford (Sen., KY) and Claiborne Pell (Sen., RI).

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