The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 16, Number 1
Feb 1992


News

Harvard Starts Using Mass Deacidification

Harvard University has contracted to have books deacidified by Akzo's diethyl zinc process, partly as a way to make sure the suppliers will still be there when they are needed in the future. For several years, all the libraries were waiting for the Library of Congress or other libraries to start spending serious money on this process, but none of them was willing to go first. In the meantime, two companies withdrew their support (Union Carbide and Hercules), and it was obvious that there was a limit to how long the other companies could hold out. So it made sense to start somewhere. None of the processes is perfect yet, but they continue to be developed.

One of the strong points of the diethyl zinc method is that it does not raise the pH very much, though it leaves an alkaline reserve. This means that colored maps and illustretions are minimally affected. (Some ink dyes change color, sometimes drastically, with changes in pH.) One of the first collections to be sent for treatment by Harvard will be one of oversized colored maps.

Book-Strengthening Feasibility Studied

Nordion International Inc., world leader in gamma radiation technology, is carrying out a feasibility study on the book-strengthening technique developed for the British Library by the University of Surrey several years ago (AN, Oct. 1987, p. 118). Ethyl acrylate and methyl methacrylate in a 5:1 ratio, according to an article in the April 1987 New Scientist, are introduced into the chamber with the book, and polymerized with the aid of gamma radiation. The books do not become radioactive, but their pages are strengthened.

If feasibility is demonstrated, the intention is to establish a joint facility in the UK, and only later expand to other countries.

"Ethics" by Fiat in Government Protested

The U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) writes regulations like most other government agencies, but calls some of them ethical rules. When it proposed last year (without any input from the professional association community) to bar federal government employees from full participation in professional associations, there was an overwhelmingly negative reaction, because this would have meant restrictions on board and committee membership, taking part in education programs and budget deliberations of associations, publication of scholarly and technical articles, and standards-setting. (Preservation would be one of the fields whose mission and members would suffer, because many active players work in the government.)

At Congressional hearings in October, OGE Director Stephen D. Potts admitted that his office received nearly a thousand letters from associations and federal workers, protesting the proposed rules. The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) spearheaded national efforts to resolve the dispute. So far the OGE has reconsidered, but not totally retracted, the proposed rules. For more information, call ASAE Government Affairs at 202/626-2713.

Papers Invited for June Meeting on Leather Conservation

The ICOM Committee on Conservation's Working Group on Leathercraft and Related Objects will hold an interim meeting (between the Committee's triennial meetings) on June 24-25 in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The first part of the meeting (six hours) will be devoted to a series of reports and a plenary session on the progress of a three-year international research program on leather that began March 1, 1991: the EEG-STEP Project.

The second part of the meeting will be devoted to papers on leather and related objects, such as feathers, fur, parchment, and hide; and for papers on objects made of leather and textiles together. Papers are invited. Speakers will not have to pay the 80 registration fee. For more information contact Mrs. M. Kite, Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Textile Conservation, South Kensington, London SW7 2RL, England. Tel. (for people callingfrom the U.S.): 011-44-71-938 8592; Fax: 01144-71-938 8661.

Standards in the Pipeline

Two standards organizations may publish revised versions of their standards for permanent paper this year (National Information Standards Organization or NISO, and ASTM), and one may publish a new standard (the International Organization for Standardization or ISO). ISO is basing its work on the NISO standard.

Other ongoing NISO work related to preservation includes the following committees and their standards:

Eye-Legible Information in Microfilm Leaders
Durable Hard-Cover Binding for Books
Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials
Environmental Conditions for Storage of Paperbased Library and Archive Collections
Environmental Conditions for the Exhibition of Library and Archival Materials
Information to be Included in Ads (etc.) for Products used for the Storage, Binding, or Repair of Library Material (Committee being formed)
Library Binding and Library Prebound Books (Committee being formed)
Permanent and Durable Library Catalog Cards (This is an old but good standard whose scheduled revision is being held up until the permanent paper standard is revised.)
[A new standard for library shelving, based on testing done by the ALA]
Physical Preparation of Theses and Dissertations
Adhesives used to Affix Labels to Library Materials

For more information, contact NISO, PO Box 1056 Bethesda, MD 20827, 30V975-2814. NISO welcomes new members, but individuals may not join, only organizations. Anyone may comment on standards under revision during the period of invited comment, but you have to pay about $30 for the draft document. Published standards are available from Transaction Publishers, Dept. NISO91, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08903, 908/932-2280, Fax 932-3138. Z39.48-1984, Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, is available for $20.

European Communities (EC) Holds "Experts' Meeting' on Paper Problem

An "experts' meeting" was held December 17-19 in the National Library of the Netherlands under the auspices of the Commission of the European Communities. It was called "Conservation of Acid Paper--Use of Permanent Paper." It passed a resolution, printed in the January 1992 Library Conservation News, in which five priorities for urgent action are identified: to promote the collection and exchange of information, using existing international organizations; to study matters brought up in the meeting; to stimulate conservation [i.e. preservation] training for library and archives staff; to organize a second meeting of experts within the next year; and to report and publicize the results of the meeting. It also recommended that EC institutions and governments use permanent paper, and that EC find some organization to compile guides to products and services and act as an information clearing house.

The United Kingdom was represented by the Head of the National Preservation Office and Derek Priest of UMIST.

British Library will Take in Work from Public

An attractive brochure with color photographs has been issued by the Conservation and Binding Department of the British Library. The text says, "The Conservation & Binding Department of the British Library is a national institution of unique history and capability. It has one of the longest traditions of craftsmanship in every aspect of bookbinding in the world and is entrusted with the long term care of some of the most famous books and documents in existence. The Conservation Bindery is now able to make this wealth of expertise available to the general public for the first time.... Services include carrying out an initial appraisal, estimations and consultation work and undertaking treatments from rebinding single volumes to full conservation management and implementation." In addition to the usual paper conservation procedures, they can do freeze drying and beta radiography, and they have a video spectral comparator for the examination of paper pigments and palimpsests.

For further details or estimates, contact Roy Russell, British Library, Conservation & Binding Department, Great Russell St., London WClB 3DG, England (tel. 0114471-323 7740).

RLG's Ariel™ Transmits Document to Anyone on Internet

The Research Libraries Group (RLG) has developed new software package that will have a good effect on both preservation and access, and may take some of the pressure off of interlibrary loan departments in libraries. It is called Ariel, and it enables fast, reliable, high-quality transmission of documents and images over the Internet (a communications network available at many higher-education and research institutions). Using standard PC hardware, a scanner, and a laser printer, Ariel produces images of much greater resolution than fax machines and, because Internet transmission is often free, at much lower cost. Users can scan, store, transmit, and print any material, including photographs, drawings, charts, and tables. Ariel compresses data while scanning, thus speeding transmission and reducing PC storage requirements. A typical page of text takes 10 seconds to scan, less than a minute to transmit, and 20 seconds to print. Over 600 scanned pages can be stored for transmittal .

Ariel is unrelated to RLIN and works independently of it. The software runs on a standard IBM-compatible 386 with 80 MB hard disk or on a 286 with 30 MB hard disk. The system comprises the PC, a scanner (either Hewlett-Packard ScanJet Plus or Panasonic FS-RS506) at the transmitting end and a PC and laser printer (HP LaserJet II or III) at the receiving end. When the system hardware is not being used for Ariel functions, it can be used for local scanning, word processing, and so on.

The software comes in two versions: a complete scan/ transmit/receive/print package at $479 or a receive/print-only package at $249. For more information, contact the RLG Information Center at 800/537-7546, or Fax: 415/9640943.

Microfilm to Digital and Digital to Microfilm

In September, the Commission on Preservation and Access approved two contracts that will demonstrate how much can be done with digital technology to preserve and increase access to deteriorating materials.

At Yale University, microfilms of 10,000 volumes will be scanned into digital image format. Hardware and software will be identified, partnerships with vendors established, and a staffing plan and budget worked out

The Cornell University book-scanning project, initially involving 1000 mathematical volumes, will go forward, testing the feasibility of producing microfilm from the digital record, and making the page images available over Internet.

Public Libraries and Preservation

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