The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 14, Number 2
Apr 1990


Permanence of Magnetic Materials and Optical Disks

Curators and users of magnetic materials and optical disks have been concerned with the lack of standards and specifications on the permanence of these media aid the appropriate systems. This need has led to independent action by the Audio Engineering Society (Subcommittee S4) and by the American National Standards Institute (Committee IT9). These two organizations have recently joined forces and set up a Joint Technical Commission which will report both to Committee IT9 and AES. Twenty-five members attended the first organizational meeting of this commission in Syracuse, New York, on June 19-20, 1989. At this meeting the following scope was agreed upon:

To write standards, test methods, recommended practices and specifications pertaining to the life expectancy and retrieval of information recorded on optical and magnetic systems (including media) and to promote c cation and coordinate the e of information among those involved in this field."

To accomplish these goals, five task groups were organized. Task Group I will prepare definitions dealing with the life expectancy of photographic film, magnetic materials and optical disks which can apply to all three media. Task Group II will prepare two storage and handling recommended procedures, one on magnetic material and the second on optical disks. Task Group III will prepare a document on transfer technology which will address the need to transfer from an obsolete media and/or format to a current one. Task Group IV will prepare specifications an optical system and Task Group V on magnetic systems. In keeping with the scope of the commission, Task Groups IV and V will be involved not only with the permanence of the media itself but also the associated hardware and software.

Organizations wishing to participate in the activities of these task groups should contact the co-chairmen of the commission, William Storm, Syracuse University, Belfer Audio Lab, 222 Waverly Ave., Syracuse, NY, 13244; or Peter Adelstein, Rochester Institute of Technology, Image Permanence Institute, RIT City Center, 50 W. Main St., Rochester, NY 14614. [From the Joint Technical Commission's news release]

Lithco Pilot Plant to Open Soon

The November 1989 issue of this Newsletter carried Robert Wedinger's description of the Lithco mass deacidification/strengthening process and described four progressively larger processing plants: the demonstration unit then in use, with a capacity of 20 books per batch; an "optimized pilot unit" also for demonstration purposes (capacity not given), said to be completed in October 1989; a "larger pilot unit" with an expected capacity of 100,000 books per year, planned for early 1990; and a commercial facility with an expected capacity of 1 to 3 million books per year, planned for 1991.

FMC, the parent company of Lithium Corporation of America (Lithco) announced January 22 that construction had begun on the third of these plants in Bessemer City, North Carolina, and would be complete during the first quarter of 1990. It will be able to treat 300,000 books per year, considerably more than the 100,000 per year announced last fall. The commercial facility is now expected to process 2 to 5 million books per year when it is built (1 to 2 million more than originally planned).

Libraries will send books for processing in treatment containers provided by the company. The containers, each holding about 20 books, are sealed during transfer and treatment. The process has a very short cycle time of less than six hours (two hours less than indicated in the fall press release). This compares with 48 to 65 hours for alternative processes, a benefit made possible by using dielectric heating to remove moisture from the books in the first stage, and solvents from the books in the final stage. The short cycle time also minimizes the size of equipment required for full-scale commercial facilities.

The process is said to increase the life of treated paper tenfold, and to strengthen it as well.

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