The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 14, Number 2
Apr 1990


News

Cost-Sharing Contracts For Preserving Biomedical Literature

As part of its National Preservation Program for the Biomedical Literature, the National Library of Medicine again plans to offer cost-sharing contracts for conservation of rare or valuable manuscripts, monographs, pamphlets or serials in deteriorated condition and for preservation microfilming of brittle volumes held by U.S. biomedical libraries. Priority for conservation projects will be given to materials not held by NLM. Titles proposed for filming mast be in core medical subjects and either not held by NLM, or serials that NLM has chosen not to film because its holdings are too incomplete. Copies of the Request for Proposal are now available; proposals will be due in mid-May. Libraries interested in receiving copies of the RFP should submit written requests for Request for Proposal NLM-90103/RMC (National Preservation Program for the Biomedical Literature) to:

Robin Cummings, Contracts Specialist
Office of Acquisitions Management
Building 38A,, Room B1N20
National Library of Medicine 8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20894

Rare Book Library Closed; Preservation Blamed

The following information is from an item in the February 1990 American Libraries and a telephone conversation in February with a staff member.

Harvard University's famous business school has--had-a rare book collerction with its own staff. It was a good collection on the history of the field, and it had a preservation program for its 37,000 volumes. But last August 31, the business school announced it was putting the books in storage and transferring the staff to the Baker Library, which serves the Graduate School of Business Administration.

Four staff members have resigned in protest, including the Associate Librarian for Administration at the Baker Library. All the staff in Baker Library's Archives and Manuscripts Department have resigned too. None of the staff had been consulted or forewarned about the closing.

The head librarian at Baker Library said a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities was partly responsible for the "merger" because it inspired the library to increase and coordinate all its preservation efforts: "We realized we had preservation going an in four different areas. As importantly, we wanted to begin focusing an 20th-century special collection materials."

New Quarters House 26 Microfilm Cameras

On March 1, 1990, the Mid-Atlantic Preservation Service (MAPS) moved from its old quarters, which held only five cameras and a pair of small film processors, to a 26-camera lab complete with two additional high-volume film processors and separate duplication facilities for both silver and diazo film. One of these cameras is a Herrmann & Kraemer (H&K) state-of-the-art, microcomputer-controlled 16/35mm camera capable of both color and black-and-white microfilming. One of 15 planned as replacements for the current Kodak MRD-2 microfilm cameras, the H&K will be used to explore color microfilming and to film projects where high resolution is required.

MAPS is offering two new services: diazo duplication and a temporary Printing Master Storage Service with all kinds of security and environmental control.

The new address, which should be the last one for a while, is Nine S. Commerce Way, Bethlehem, PA 18017 (215/ 758-8700). Visitors are welcome.

Conservation As A Community Service

In August 1989, at a conference in Australia called "Conservation on the Move," the State Librarian of New South Wales announced a new community service, "Conservation Access," to be operated from the State Library. This service will be directed by Alan Howell, Manager of the library's Preservation Department, and coordinated by Helen Price, ALIA (Australian Library and Information Association) biennial conservator for the past three years. It aim to solve conservation problem for individuals and groups, businesses and professions, government and private sectors by running monthly conservation clinics, carrying out environmental surveys, repairing paper-based materials, providing speakers and carrying out house visits.

NEDCC Helps General Public With "Hugo"-Damaged Records

On November 14, 1989, three conservators from the Northeast Document Conservation Center provided a conservation clinic in Charleston, South Carolina, to offer assistance to the general public for their personal books, photographs, documents and works of art on paper that had been damaged by Hurricane Hugo. The clinic was hosted by the Charleston Museum and included the conservator from the South Carolina State Archives.

Most of the objects brought to the clinic were water-damaged and covered with silt and mud residue. Emulsion was lifting from photographs, and mold was growing on leather-bound family Bibles and framed works of art on paper. As in any natural disaster, individuals had been preoccupied with preparing homes and worrying about their personal safety. There had not been much time to worry about family memorabilia.

The conservators were able to provide some immediate treatment for the objects brought to the clinic, but mostly they gave advice as to what collectors could do to salvage and preserve their objects. Storage enclosures were provided by University Products and information was made available by NEDCC, the Charleston Museum, the State Archives and SOLINET.

Collections Care Programs

The National Endowment for the Humanities, the William Penn Foundation and perhaps other granting agencies are now funding collections care programs in museums and other institutions that house "material culture collections." This does not include reading material, but libraries and archives still qualify if they have paintings or other museum-type artifacts in their collections. The Library Company in Philadelphia has arranged for improved housing and storage for its paintings, furniture, sculpture and historical artifacts through a Collections Care Program grant from the William Penn Foundation. Training grants are available too. For NEH guidelines, call 202/786-0570.

Six Museums Share A Set Of Conservation Specialists

They call themselves the "National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside," and they have recently formed a Conservation Division to develop the resources and skills necessary for the care of their collections. In the near future they hope to hire conservators for paintings, paper, textiles and sculpture. This is an arrangement like the cooperative and regional conservation centers in the U.S. (ICA and CCAHA), or the consortia of libraries in the Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. areas.

ALA President Chooses Preservation Mm

American Library Association President Pat Berger has chosen preservation and literacy as themes of her presidential year. Her program at the Midwinter Meeting in January focussed on preservation, though neither of the speakers had a background in preservation.

She has created a President's Committee on Preservation Policy to "explicitly outline the responsibilities of the library profession for the preservation of library collections." Chaired by Carolyn Clark Morrow, preservation librarian at Harvard, the committee includes public, academic, and research librarians. A draft preservation policy for ALA endorsement is expected this summer.

British Library Seeks Funds For Paper Strengthening

The New York Times for December 27, on p. D5, has an article about the long-awaited paper strengthening method developed for the British Library by scientists in Surrey University. It is called graft copolymerization. The newspaper article says that "books are placed in a small steel chamber and doused with a chemical mix of monomers (a simple form of a chemical compound). The chambers are then irradiated with gamma rays, which change the monomers into polymers. The plastic-like polymers thoroughly coat the paper fibers, which are shaped like hollow tubes, and strengthen each page as well as protect the book from further acid erosion." The paper is made up to 10 times stronger. This is obviously a cure for brittle books, of which the British Library has two million. It fattens the books a little, but does not harm inks or bindings.

 

Now the Library needs money to set up a pilot plant in Great Britain: $1.5 to $3 million. A prospectus for investors should be ready soon. If the number of brittle books in the world is about 200 million, and if they can be treated for $4.50 to $8 a book, investors can expect to gross up to $1,600,000,000. (Of course not all libraries will be able to treat every brittle book they own, and this will cut that gross down considerably; on the other hand, the number of brittle books is bound to grow for the next 50-100 years, because of all the acidic books still being produced. -Ed.)

So-Called "Full-Service Preservation Vendors"

University Microfilms International (UMI) and Research Publications are both major suppliers of microfilms to libraries and both are now courting the preservation market. This is good, because they are serving the needs of libraries that need to microfilm their brittle books and newspapers. But they are described in the ALCTS Newsletter v.1 #2 as being full-service preservation vendors, which they certainly are not. They are full service microfilm services, because they can prepare and collate material, prepare targets, inspect and test the film, store it, and so on, besides filming it. They do not perform any preservation services not related to microfilming.

To contact UMI, phone Chris Nicely or Elaine Calvin at 800/521-0600; to contact Research Publications, call Meg Bellinger at 800/444-0799.

Pat Battin Replies To Advocates Of Repair Funding,

A debate over whether book repair deserves national funding or not has been shaping up at the last two or three meetings of the American Library Association, in PLMS (Preservation of Library Materials Section) committee meetings. So far there is no great support for the idea, but it will not go away because it is part of the local-vs.-national collection issue, which has never been thoroughly explored. The picture is complicated by the brittle books crisis, which has finally been addressed by Congress with realistic appropriations for microfilming. The fact that preservation calls for many kinds of treatments and program, and that Congress has given funding (through NEH) only for last-resort action makes it unbalanced. Or it seems that way.

Patricia Battin, President of the Commission on Preservation and Access, addresses the issue forthrightly in a special report published in the CPA Newsletter for March, under the title "Brittle Books: Legislative History, Future Directions." She reviews how the CPA came to recommend and work for massive microfilming as the solution to the brittle book problem, and how microfilming justifies federal funding because it is in effect not only a copying procedure, but a republishing procedure. However, she says, "competing priorities have come to the fore" with the new federal funding. If they are not worked into the existing framework carefully, the result could be diversion of funds into a spectrum of needs, diverting funds from the original goal. She suggests that repair advocates define the "national interest" and develop a rationale for federal support of repair of individual volumes. Whether or not they do that, it would probably be natural and desirable for the long-term microfilming plan developed by CPA to be refined an the basis of experience and discussion as the years go by. Leadership in this refinement process should come from both the CPA and the experienced preservation librarians who are in a good position to judge the effect of microfilming program on their collections.

CPA Concerned About Shortage Of Preservation Education

The College Libraries Committee of the Commission on Preservation and Access spent most of their time at their December 6 meeting on education and training for the part-time preservation librarian. Lisa Fox led an extensive discussion on the assumptions, topics, schedule, and design for a possible new course for them. There was a consensus that any course that is developed be provided on an equitable basis, and that some scholarship assistance be provided to help achieve this goal. In addition, colleges and universities intending to send staff members would be expected to state their commitment to preservation. The Committee meets again April 23. The eight Committee members are all library directors.

In addition to the College Libraries Committee, the CPA has a new Task Force on Preservation Education, whose members include David Gracy, Beverly Lynch, Sally Roggia, Sally B , Carolyn Harris and Deanna Marcum. Their first step has been to plan a Preservation Seminar for Library Educators in 1990, for which the transcript will be made widely available.

Antiqued Historical Documents For Sale

A place called Historical Documents co. (8 N. Preston St., Philadelphia, PA 19104, 215/387-8076) has an ad in Museum News for March/April that says, MUSEUM STORES: Interpretive Quality Mementos for Profitable Sales Antiqued Historical Documents, Banknotes, Posters. They look old and feel old! They kindle the interest of children and adults alike. Inexpensively priced. Over 300 item from every period of American history..."

Tips

To remove adhesive residue from Post-It Notes on glossy paper, use a vinyl eraser. One kind that works is Everhard Faber #622. (From Virginia Wright)

To protect books that have to be stored an shelves under water pipes, but which are still used too often to cover up with plastic, hang overlapping strips of plastic from the top of the bookcase, like they have in loading docks sometimes. (From Paul Foulger)

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