The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 16, Number 4
Aug 1992


Literature

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pH Surveys of Current Publications in Japan," by Akio Yasue. CAN No. 50, July 1992, p. 1-2,29. This is a well-written report of some careful monitoring work. At the National Diet Library, the pH of a sample of incoming books has been measured annually since 1986, at first with glass electrodes. In 1990 they wanted to check the accuracy of their measurements, so they used five different methods on 15 of the samples: two glass electrodes, two pH indicator strips with overlapping ranges, and the cold extraction test. The cold extraction test is generally considered more accurate in the alkaline range, but it is also one or two points higher than other measures. Here they found the usual spread among all the measures.

However you measure it, the picture is clear: use of alkaline paper in Japan is increasing. For the ordinary type of books acquired by the National Diet Library, the proportion went up from 44.5% for books published in 1986 to 70.9% for 1990 books, an increase of over 6% per year. For 1990 books of research value, on the other hand, about 87% were alkaline. (1A1)

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pH: Only a Piece of the Preservation Puzzle: A Comparison of the Preservation Studies at Brigham Young, Yale, and Syracuse Universities," by Matthew Nickerson. LRTS, 36/1, p. 105-112. This paper should never have been accepted for publication. It is full of egregious errors, which it would be tedious to list here, but an example is on p. 108-109, where the author says that Randall Butler's survey of the Brigham Young University Library found that 100% of the books were acidic, with 10% (p. 108) or alternatively, 23.5% (p. 109) having a pH below 3.8, 24.5% being "slightly acidic (pH 5.4)" and the rest in between. But this is not true; it is not what Butler found; and it is impossible to arrive at these values using chlorophenol red as an indicator, as Butler did because it does not change color below 6.0. Butler found, or claimed that 67.5% of the 1987 American commercial imprints received were alkaline. But he is confused too: he adds the books that tested in the pH 6.0-6.7 range to make up his category of "alkaline" books, ignoring the fact that the dividing line between acid and alkaline is pH 7.0. (lA1)

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Standards: A Resource and Guide for Identification, Selection, and Acquisition, by Patricia Ricci. 2nd ed. $60 from Patricia Ricci, 8590 Pinehurst Alcove, Woodbury, MN 55125 (612/739-3684). This book won the Standards Engineering Society's 1990 Book of the Year Award. (1B)

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"Buchrestaurierungswerkstatten in den Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika: Ein Erfahrungsbericht," by Susan Herion. Restauro, May-June 1992, 190-193. The author completed internships in five book conservation departments in the U.S.: the Library of Congress, Folger Shakespeare Library Johns Hopkins, American Philosophical Society, and Yale University. In this article, she describes each department and in a shorter article she describes sources of funding that can be used for such American internships. (lD6)

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"Setting up a Conservation Workshop," by Helen Forde. Library Conservation News, No. 35, p. 3,6. This rather condensed article does have a 13-item bibliography on the subject, most of which are U.S. publications. (lG)

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"Preserving the Nation's Intellectual Heritage: A Synthesis," by Sherry Byrne and Barbara Van Deventer. College and Research Library News, May 1992, p. 313-315. A short but important statement by the authors that reflects current trends in thinking among preservation administrators. They say that the earlier practice of disbinding (cutting the backs off) books for microfilming has given way to wider use of book cradles, leaving books intact for further use. In the selection of materials for preservation, use and usability of the individual book should be considered, preservation grants should cover more material in the social sciences and sciences; microfilming is only one of a broad range of choices for preservation, given the variety of problems in collections; it makes sense for different libraries to choose different preservation options for the same title; federal funding should carry more of the cost of preservation- not all brittle books are unusable, so treatment can be deferred- and the national microfilming program should not be seen as a competitor of local preservation activities, but as a complementary activity. (lG5)

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Papyrus is the four-page newsletter of the International Association of Museum Facility Administrators (IAMFA), a new group described on p. 39 in the last newsletter. They decided not to call it Uptime, because that did not communicate clearly enough the cultural-institution focus of the group.

Although the name of the Association implies that it is concerned only or mainly with museums, the group is eager to include facility administrators from libraries and archives in its membership, and to make liaisons with curators, conservators and preservation administrators in those institutions. Next year's annual meeting will be in Kansas City, Kansas, in March, and it might be good to have one or two representatives there, call Ted Wilson at the Nelson Atkins (816/561-4000) for information. They can probably furnish speakers for preservation programs now and then, and would probably welcome a preservation speaker at some of their own events; their newsletter might answer queries sent in to the editor; exchanges with other newsletters might be arranged; and members of subcommittees need not be members of the Association. The Association can be contacted at PO Box 1505, Washington, DC 20013-1505 (202/842-6158).

The first issue carries the program of the first annual conference, which included papers on working with security, energy management, working with conservation, working with curators, fire safety, quality circles and the new handicap law. The second issue has an article called "Fire Point," by Nick Artim, which reviews some of the ways fire in cultural institutions is sometimes misunderstood by curators, conservators and administrators, and how it is not really well covered by existing codes and standards, except for the NFPA handbooks. (2C)

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"Ozone Alert" is a sidebar in Conservation, the Getty Conservation Institute newsletter, for Winter 1992. It says, "Ozone frequently employed by cleaning companies and rescue [i.e., salvage] teams to combat odors resulting from fire or flood, is known to be a high risk chemical that should, under no circumstances, be applied to museums, libraries, or other irreplaceable collections." It is also sometimes proposed for use in air conditioning systems. For further information, contact James R. Druzik, Conservation Scientist, the Getty Conservation Institute. (2C 1.1)

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The Collection Building Reader, edited by Betty-Carol Sellen and Arthur Curley. $45 from Neal-Sehuman Publishers, 100 Variek St., New York, NY 10013. 1992. 208 pp. Printed on acidic paper. One of the chapters is "Preservation and Collection Management: Some Common Concerns," by Margaret M. Byrnes. Sections are headed Budget Impact, National Preservation Planning, and New Formats. The section on national planning is longest, with subheads as follows: Choice of collections, Local vs. national priorities, Format preferences, Access to preserved materials, Collection ratings, Faculty and selector involvement, Collection assessment, Copyright, Bibliographic access, Sources of funding, and International preservation efforts. (2D2)

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Perspectives on Natural Disaster Mitigation: Papers Presented at 1991 AIC Workshop. Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation, n.d. 82 pp. Printed on acidic paper. This got an enthusiastic review in Library Conservation News #35. Most of the papers were written with museums in mind, but they also apply to libraries and archives, which have little literature of their own on natural disaster mitigation. (2F)

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"Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Aid for Cultural Institutions During an Emergency" is a 16-page brochure provided by the National Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Property in conjunction with the Institute of Museum Services. Institutions offering federal aid to museums, libraries and archives are FEMA, NEA, NEH, IMS, and three agencies that do not award grants, but can offer professional expertise: National Park Service, Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian Institution. Free copies are available on a first-come, first-served basis, by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope (52¢) to Emergency Preparedness, NIC, 3299 K Street, NW, Suite 403, Washington, DC 20007 (202/625-1495). (2F3.4)

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Library Disaster Handbook: Planning, Resources, Recovery, by Nelly Balloffet. With a Section on Photographic Materials, by Ana B. Hofmann. Available without charge from Southeastern New York Library Resources Council, PO Box 879, Highland, NY 12528. 1992. Due to a misunderstanding, only p. 35-54 are printed on acid-free paper as announced in the front. This handbook is strong on recovery procedures and who to call upon it is easy to use, and has good headings and an index. (2F4)

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"Seismic Disaster Planning: Preventive Measures Make a Difference," by Elisabeth Cornu and Lesley Bone. WAAC Newsletter, Sept. 1991, p. 13-19. A systematic guide to minimizing earthquake damage in museums. Much of it is relevant to archives and libraries too. (2F8)

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Sauvegard et conservation des photographies, dessins, imprimes et manuscrits, Actes des Journées Internationales d'Etudes de l'ARSAG, Paris 30 septembre - 4 octobre 1991. Editeur: Association pour la Recherche Scientifique sur les Arts Graphiques,36, rue Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 75005 Paris. 350 F (about $70). This book, whose theme is the safeguarding of cultural heritage, is composed of three parts. The first two concern the photographic and the graphic arts, and the last one is more specifically dedicated to mass conservation and restoration treatments for graphic documents. (3)

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Binder Vision is a new quarterly video magazine, which for £120/year will mail you four videotapes of interest to bookbinders, or you can order the videos individually for £35 apiece. Issue #1, Spring 1992, is on "the person and work of Elizabeth Greenhill." (Unfortunately, European videotapes are incompatible with U.S. equipment.) (3A1)

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Library Materials Preservation Manual, by Hedi Kyle and collaborators, originally published by N.T. Smith in 1983, is now distributed exclusively by the New York Botanical Garden, Scientific Publications Department, Bronx, NY 10458 (212/220-8721). $24.75. (3A2)

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"Teaching Genealogies of American Hand Bookbinders," by Tom Conroy. Special issue of Guild of Book Workers Journal v. 28, Nos. 1-2, Spring/Fall 1990 (issued summer 1992). 64 pp. + four genealogical charts and several subcharts. This is a major contribution to the history of craft bookbinding in the U.S. to the present day, written in the Conroy style: relentlessly evaluative and guilelessly frank, all disciplined and impersonal. He does have prejudices, though. He emphasizes the value of sound structure and refers to American binders who "have tended to follow the French in aping painting and the fine arts." There are over 40 black-and-white photographs of bindings, lists of individuals and institutions that do not fall into any of the charts, and a detailed list of sources on each binder covered. (3A5)

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Mass Deacidification of Paper: A Comparative Study of Existing Processes, by Astrid-Christiane Brandt. Translated by Peter Thomas. Bibliothèque Nationale, 1992. (Series: Pro Libris) 92 pp. + 92 pp., French and English. Alkaline paper.

The processes covered are Wei T'o Bookkeeper, Akzo Lithco-FMC, Booksaver and British Library strengthening process. There is an introduction giving the historical causes and nature of poor paper quality, and six appendices (three on paper testing, one on suppliers of processes, one on the Montreal Protocol on CFC, and a comparative table of mass deacidification processes which includes the Wei T'o variant method used by the Bibliothèque Nationale, Mallet (CIM). The Battelle Institute's variant Wei T'o method is not included for lack of data. In fact, as the author says in her conclusion, there is a lack of significant and comparable data on the impact of each type of treatment, and the treatments keep evolving, which makes them hard to compare.

Nevertheless, some observations may be made; they are listed here without the author's commentary and examples. 1) There is no treatment which can be applied to all types of paper and which is compatible with all the constituents of the book. 2) Doubts remain about the homogeneity and effectiveness of some treatments. 3) As for the solvent-phase processes, the problem of finding substitutes for chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) has not been solved. 4) The deacidification process combined with satisfactory strengthening of already fragile old papers is not yet available. 5) It is impossible to establish with any degree of precision the costs and capacities of a large-scale plant. (This was written before the test results from the Library of Congress's RFP were released, but those results have not invalidated any of the observations.) (3A10)

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The Care and Handling of Recorded Sound Materials, by Gilles St-Laurent of the National Library of Canada, is an expanded version of a previously published article, issued in the U.S. as a 16-page report by the Commission on Preservation and Access, and is free while supplies last. As its title indicates, the report covers only physical care and storage conditions, on a fairly simple level-nothing about copying, playback equipment, cleaning equipment, or restoration-but its four-page description of the history, manufacture and components of the various formats is informative. To judge by the three-page introductory explanation of what sound is and how it is produced by the various kinds of sound materials, this booklet is intended for curators and collectors who have little or no knowledge of the subject. (3H)

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