The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 16, Number 5
Oct 1992


News

Nordion will Develop BL's Book Strengthening process

For over ten years, the British Library has been working on a process they can use to strengthen the paper in their brittle books. In 1980, research began at the University of Surrey Department of Chemistry for the BL, and a method was developed for using gamma rays to induce polymerization of ethyl acrylate and methyl methacrylate within the book pages. Progress was held up for a few years while funds were sought for a pilot plant, then the search was turned toward finding a business that might develop the process because of its commercial potential. A number of companies in the UK and elsewhere were approached and in 1991 the Library signed an agreement with Nordion International, a company in Kenata, Ontario, specializing in the production of radioactive isotopes.

Nordion has made technical and market studies, and fund-raising and development work continues. In late May, there was a meeting in London of representatives from Nordion, the British Library, UMIST, the University of Surrey, and other British libraries, to assess the progress to date and make further plans. Nordion, by the way, is not the Kenata, Ontario, company mentioned on a recent TV program, whose medical radiation equipment once fell on a patient and killed them.

Nordion is the other radiation company in Kenata, and it does not make medical equipment.

Research on Architectural Drawings

A research project on the fabrication and preservation of American architectural drawings to 1930 has been undertaken by Lois Olcott Price of the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts in Philadelphia. The first phase of the project, now largely complete, was funded by grants from the Peterson Foundation of the Athenaeum of Philadelphia and the Institute for Museum Services. The objective of this project is the preservation of architectural drawings and their photoreproductions through a better understanding of the materials and techniques used in their fabrication. The Athenaeum of Philadelphia plans to publish the research as a monograph directed to archivists, architects, curators and conservators.

The research involves a search of primary and secondary documentary sources from the 18th through the 20th centuries, including architects', builders', and draftsmen's manuals; trade catalogs and periodicals; advertisements; and the records of architectural offices. This textual research is accompanied by the visual and instrumental analysis of a representative sample of drawings. This information will assist in designing guidelines for the visual identification of various photoreproductive processes, a step necessary for their preservation. It will also assist in understanding the deterioration of tracing papers and linens and formulating more effective storage and treatment guidelines.

The final element of the research project is the formulation of guidelines for the preservation of architectural drawings, including environment, storage, exhibition, reformatting, and conservation treatment. Questions of particular importance for architectural drawings include the effects of light, pollution, and alkaline enclosures on some photoreproductive processes; the storage and handling of oversize drawings; and special problems related to tracing papers and linens.

A New Help Line

Gaylord Brothers, the library supplier, has tuned in to preservation. They have issued an archival materials catalog, released an annotated bibliography for beginners called Preservation Pathfinder, and opened a Preservation Information Help Line staffed on Thursdays and Fridays with a real conservator/consultant, Nancy Schrock. The catalog, bibliography and help line are all free. For the catalog and bibliography, call 800/448-6160 or write Gaylord Bros., Box 4901, Syracuse, NY 13221-4901. The help line's number is 800/ 428-3631. It is only open on Thursdays and Fridays because Ms. Schrock is maintaining her private practice and can only spare two days a week.

Preservation Statistics

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is the only organization that collects comprehensive library preservation statistics on a regular bases. The 1990-91 statistics from the 117 reporting ARL libraries were released in July 1992, and show a total of $71 million was spent on preservation, much of it from outside grants. (This does not count non-ARL libraries, many of which also have preservation programs.) The text of the news release announcing the publication follows, in slightly edited form.

The data offer persuasive evidence that preservation programs are becoming a standard unit in research libraries. In 1991, 90 institutions indicated that they had appointed a preservation administrator. Of those, 55 libraries reported that the preservation program is managed by a full-time preservation administrator, and 35 reported management by a part-time administrator. Total preservation staff in the 117 libraries was 1,744. The number of professional preservation staff was almost 25 %, nonprofessionals more than 50%, and student assistants 23%. During 1990-91, these libraries as a whole performed almost one million conserv tion treatments, with minor repairs accounting for nearly 70% of the total production. The data also underscore the impact of the brittle books program. During the past year, ARL libraries microfilmed approximately 123,233 volumes, which is an increase of more than 31,000 volumes over 1989-90 preservation microfilm production.

The report provides statistical tables and analysis of the organizational, fiscal, and functional components of preservation programs. New in this year's report is the analysis of preservation program components in relation to collection size.

The 1990-91 ARL Preservation Statistics is available from the ARL office (1527 New Hampshire Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20036, 202/232-2466). The price is $20 to members and $60 to nonmembers. All orders must be prepaid.

Call for Papers: Advances in Preservation & Access

Proposals for contributions to volume 2 of Advances in Preservation & Access, a publication of the Meckler Corporation, are invited by editor Barbra Buckner Higginbotham. Papers are wanted on current topics in library preservation, conservation, and related access issues, particularly in the areas of special materials and disciplines (music, theatre, dance, film, recorded sound), curator/conservation relationships, education and training, preventive measures, surveys and collection assessment, mass deacidification, internation al efforts, and automation applications for program management. Include your name, address, telephone (voice and fax), e-mail address, brief biographical data, and a 250-word abstract. Deadline for receipt of proposals: November 1, 1992. Papers (3,500-7,500 words) will be due June 1, 1993. Send proposals to Dr. Barbra Buckner Higginbotham, The Library, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY 11210 (718/951-5342; fax 718/951-7277; bxhbc@cunym).

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