The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 18, Number 6
Oct 1994


Literature

[Note: The classification number that follows each entry is an aid to compiling the yearly subject index.]

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"The Case for a Software Registration Program," by Rod Goult, in the "Forum" section of Quality Systems Update, August 1994, p. 11-12. The author is president of an ISO 9000 training and consulting organization, and his specialty areas are electronics and software. He speaks his mind about the big players in the U.S. software industry, who recently used underhanded methods to block development of "sector-specific" modifications of ISO 9000 standards. This means that U.S. software firms that want to sell their product abroad will have to go to the United Kingdom to find accredited registration bodies. In Goult's words, "With the typical zeal of those who are both ill-informed and driven by pure self-interest, the spokesmen of the anti-software sector lobby distorted the facts about the TickIT [accreditation in information technology] program, and without making any effort to establish what the Registrar Accreditation Board's own Software Quality System Registration committee was proposing, these anti-TickIT zealots disseminated clear untruths about both the plans being developed by the committee and the level of support for the proposals. They told only those elements of the story which suited their purposes."

This Forum contribution should make it very clear to readers that standards work is anything but dull.

Quality Systems Update is a monthly newsletter of 30-50 pages, published by CEEM Information Services (800/669-1567) as "a global ISO 9000 forum and information service." The annual subscription rate is $495. (1B)

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The International Directory of Training in Conservation of Cultural Property. 5th ed. ICCROM and Getty Conservation Institute, 1994. This edition contains 30% more programs than the previous edition. It includes specialized multi-year courses leading to a degree; short-term courses for specialists; and conservation courses offered within programs leading to degrees in other fields. Entries are arranged by country and then by city, and indexed by subject. Contact Getty Trust Publications at PO Box 2112, Santa Monica, CA 90407-2112 (310/453-5352; in the U.S. and Canada, use 800/223-3431). (1D6)

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"Examination and Identification of Photocopies and Photocopiers," by John S. Gorajczyk. American Jurisprudence Proof of Facts, 3d Series: Text and Sample Testimony to Assist in Proving Contested Facts, v. 23. 1993. Lawyers Cooperative Publishing, a division of Thomson Legal Publishing, Rochester. The author is a forensic document examiner. This document reviews the types of photocopiers, history of photocopying, parts of a copier, advantages and disadvantages of various processes, what one can determine by examining a photocopy, where to look for clues, methods used by forgers, and how to present the evidence in court. (1E3)

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"Delta Plan: A Report on the Netherlands' National Pres-ervation Initiative," excerpts from a report by the Netherlands Ministry of Welfare, Health, and Cultural Affairs. Published in Infinity, the Newsletter of the SAA Preservation Section, Fall 1992, p. 7-8.

A 1988 report by the Dutch equivalent of the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) revealed distressing storage conditions and substandard record-keeping in the 17 national museums. As a result of widespread concern, in 1990 the Delta Plan, subtitled Preservation of Cultural Heritage in the Netherlands, was set up, and funds were allocated to preserve all of the Netherlands' cultural heritage, including that in libraries. By 1994, a yearly allocation of about $23 million dollars was planned. A survey was done, focusing on museums and archives, and it "showed that everything appeared to be worse than originally thought." Storage conditions, as well as deacidification, copying of films and tapes, and other aspects of preservation are being given concentrated attention. (1G5)

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The Conserve O Gram series consists of about 56 four-page flyers issued by the National Park Service as a reference on collections management and curatorial issues for its staff at various historical sites. The series is not intended to serve as a manual, but as a way of keeping up to date. Their format permits frequent updating, and new Conserv O Grams are added as required. They are also available to non-NPS institutions and interested individuals by subscription ($56 to start; not clear how much they charge to continue the subscription, which provides "six supplements issued on a semi-annual basis"). Order from the Superintendent of Documents, USGPO, Washington, DC 20402 (fax 202/512-2233). The Colorado Preservation Alliance recently reprinted the one on "How to Flatten Folded or Rolled Paper Documents" to send out with its newsletter.

About half of the Conserv O Grams are relevant to preservation of library and archival materials, including ones on window mats, making mounting corners for photographs, polyester film book supports (reprinted from this Newsletter), photocopying, preservation of magnetic media, and rare books. (1H)

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"Preservation and Conservation in the Elementary Schools," by Karen Williams. CAN No. 52, Jan. 1993, p.4-5, 7, 13. This is a policy statement that has been approved by and implemented in the Westwood Elementary School in Stillwater, Oklahoma. It includes education of the students, staff and administrators; preservation measures including book repair, a survey and environmental monitoring; disaster planning; and integration of preservation into the curriculum. (1H1)

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National Park Service. Museum Handbook, Part I: Museum Collections. Revised Sept. 1990. Looseleaf format, not consecutively paged except within individual chapters; 2.25" thick. Three-ring binder not supplied. $36 from the Superintendent of Documents, USGPO, Washington, DC 20402-9325. Stock # 024-005-01078-5.

Most libraries and archives probably prefer handbooks written specifically for their use, but libraries and archives that are part of a historical society, or housed in a historic building, may find that this handbook suits their purposes very well. It is written for the non-conservator and contains a lot of what could be called "appropriate technology." Its 12 chapters and 16 appendices cover a fair amount of material that applies only to the Park Service, and a larger amount that applies mainly to museums and museum objects. The parts that would be most valuable to libraries and archives are:

Ch. 3. Museum Objects Preservation: Getting Started
Ch. 4. Museum Collections Environment
Ch. 5. Biological Infestations
Ch. 9. Museum Collections Protection: Security and Fire Protection
Ch. 10. Museum Collections: Emergency Planning
App. F. NPS Museum Collections Management Checklists
App. G. Protection of National Park Service Museum Collections
App. J. Curatorial Care of Paper Objects (55 pp.)
App. M. Curatorial Care of Cellulose Nitrate Negatives (22 pp.)

Appendices on curatorial care of photographs and of leather and skin objects are planned for the future.

The chapter on cellulose nitrate negatives looks to be pretty detailed and useful, covering identification, enclosures, freezing, monitoring, conditioning upon removal, storage at room temperature, health risks, duplication, shipping, disposition of negatives that have been copied, and long-term storage for larger quantities.

Unfortunately, the 55-page appendix on care of paper objects is not distinguished for its accuracy or usefulness. The author or authors did not know paper history or chemistry very well: interfiber bonds are described as "very weak," and the web of fibers in contemporary papers is said to be held together by the sizing; the quality of paper is said to have started declining only in the mid-1800s, and lignin is called a protein. The advice on storage and care is routine and a bit old-fashioned (it advises an RH of 45%-55%, and says it is OK to replace paper objects in a repainted exhibit case as soon as the paint dries). Books are given scant attention, as might be expected in a museum handbook. There is more emphasis on art and historical records. (2.4)

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Advances in Preservation and Access, edited by Barbra Buckner Higginbotham and Mary E. Jackson. Vol. 1. 300 pp. ISBN 0-88736-787-9. $55 from Meckler, 11 Ferry Lane West, Westport, CT 06880 (203/226-6967, fax 203/454-5840), 1992.

This is a collection of essays. Contributors to Part 2, "Building the Preservation Platform," are John H. Hammer, Patricia Battin, George Farr, Patricia McClung, Condict Gaye Stevenson and Hans Rütimann; to Part 3, "Agendas for Administration," Deanna Marcum, Paul J. Fasana/John Baker, Nancy Gwinn and Margaret Child; to Part 4, "Options and Opportunities," Janet Gertz, Peter Sparks, Anne Kenney/Lynne Personius and Karen Motylewski/Mary Elizabeth Ruwell; to Part 5, "Issues for Archives," Richard Cox and Paul Conway; and to Part 6, "Progress and Unmet Challenges," Susan Swartzburg/Robert Schnare. There is an index. (Information from publisher's flyer). (2.4)

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A 4-page insert in the Commission on Preservation and Access Newsletter #70, Aug. 1994, consists of a "Summary of the Final Report of the Scholarly Advisory Committee on Art History to the Commission on Preservation and Access [CPA], June 1994." This Advisory Committee worked with the CPA to set preservation priorities for art publications. Only the most valuable art publications can be saved, since there will never be enough money to preserve all of them.

The format judged most important was journals, and from a long list of art journals that began publication before 1940, they selected about 170 that deserved a seat in the preservation lifeboat. Of these, 61 began publication before 1900, and one began as early as 1773. Almost half of them are in languages other than English; all have text and pictures; and many pictures may be missing, because people steal them. Most of the journals published between the mid-1870s and 1914 are now brittle. For all these reasons, the journals on the select list will not be easy to save.

The criteria for choosing these 170 or so journal titles, which are listed on p. 2-4 of this insert, were: a) rarity, b) wide usefulness, and c) historiographic significance to the entire discipline regardless of specific content. (2.6)

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"Determination of Some Atmospheric Pollutants Inside a Museum: Relationship with the Concentration Outside," by F. De Santis, V. Di Palo and I. Allegrini. The Science of the Total Environment, no. 127, pp. 221-223, 1992. Four gases (sulfur dioxide, nitric acid, nitrous acid and ozone) and two radicals in particulate matter (sulfate nitrate [sic] and ammonium) were measured in the Uffizi Gallery. Indoor levels of nitrous acid exceeded outdoor levels. For the rest, levels fluctuated, but indoor and outdoor levels were similar. (from AATA Abstract 30-2349; 2C1.1)

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There have been seven messages on the Cons DistList since August 17, all about storage cases with environmental control. Various systems, experts, suppliers (with addresses and telephone numbers), principles and experiences are discussed, with good input from knowledgeable people. Apparently the environmentally controlled storage case (as opposed to display case) is coming into its own now. Tom Chase of the Freer Gallery said August 22, "I think that this sort of approach is more widely needed, especially with utility prices going up all the time!" Ed Southern of the North Carolina Division of Archives and History said, "Don't overlook the obvious alternative: constructing a wall and installing a door to create a small, environmentally controllable space.... I maintained temperatures of 70-73° and an RH which varied from 40 to 50 percent, the latter figure occurring in the summer." (2C2.3)

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"Selection for Conservation," by Helmut Bansa. Restaurator 13, 1992, p. 193-197. The author advises not sorting out books for deacidification treatment at all, except to include all books published between the early 1800s and the future year when all paper will be made alkaline; he says the selection procedure is lengthy, and treatment does not harm the binding material.

He says it is useless to try to assign priorities for reformatting and restoration of brittle and damaged materials. Instead, they should be selected by use, since books do not literally "crumble to dust." In fact, paper in the last stages of decay is ideally suited to restoration by paper splitting, by hand or by machine. Cool, dry and dark storage conditions are indispensable; also needed are staff trained to detect brittle books and a lab for reformatting books in a matter of hours before giving it to the reader. If the policy is to put off reformatting or restoring the book until it has been requested by more than just one person, he recommends phase boxing after the first use, in a box with a conspicuous color to facilitate later retrieval. (2D)

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"Opto-Electronic Storage--An Alternative to Filming?" (translation of a chapter from the article "Verfilmen oder Instandsetzen? Schutz- und Ersatzverfilmung im Dienste der Bestandserhaltung"), by Dr. Hartmut Weber. A 6-page insert to the February 1993 Commission on Preservation and Access Newsletter.

He discusses the merits of different kinds of optical disks for preservation purposes, ruling out the CD-ROM, which cannot be made inside the library, then ruling out the other kinds (WORM and magneto-optical or MOD) as well, because the medium does not last very long and the equipment to read the disks becomes quickly obsolete. "If opto-electronic media are to be used as durable storage units for information, all media have to be converted immediately as soon as a new generation of devices appears on the horizon. This is the only way to avoid the danger that these media become technically outdated and thereby incompatible.... The optical storage disk can therefore be recommended only for applications in which frequent, timely access to a limited information base is essential, provided that the preservation of these data is solved in another way and there are no high demands for quality. It is an access medium, a medium for use." He recommends microfilm. (2E3)

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"Gray Matter" (a sidebar on p. 114 of the May 1994 Scientific American) describes "glyph codes" invented by a Xerox scientist: software that can embed digital data in graphics on the page itself, using marks so small that they appear to human eyes as a gray patch. To show what it looks like, the author (W. Wayt Gibbs) reproduces a gray patch giving the digital version of his story. It takes up only a quarter of the space that the printed version takes. Glyph codes, he says, might one day play an important role in the grand unification of office electronics and of paper.

Xerox is working on ways to embed glyph-packed graphics into documents produced by the most popular business software packages, and to provide scanning software so that you can read the printed paper like a disk. (2E4)

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"Disaster Planning in the '90s: Getting it Right," by Helene Donnelly. CAN No. 52, Jan. 1993, p. 10-11. The author is the founder of the Data and Archival Damage Control Centre, which operates in England and the U.S. (The American telephone number is 219/422-7444.) In these two succinct pages, she gives pointed advice, tells what to expect, and debunks a few myths. This is not thirdhand stuff.

For instance, she tells how human error, not nature, caused the Arno to flood in 1966 and damage or destroy an incredible amount of art, books and records in Florence. Untrained staff at the city reservoir, apparently filling in for the regular staff just before a holiday, had opened the doors of the reservoir instead of closing them, and it took them a long time to find out how to undo their mistake. The level of the river rose sixteen feet overnight, falling again 24 hours later. "The truth is," she says, "that most disasters are caused by human incompetence."

She suggests sitting down with management and having a serious talk about financial implications if a disaster were to put the organization out of commission for three months; whether the library is covered by insurance; who will be in charge in case of disaster; and so on. She warns of hazards (PCBs liberated from capacitors [ballasts?] in fluorescent fixtures, water contaminated with bacteria) and unnecessary expenditures (freeze-drying of books and papers when less expensive alternatives exist, or salvaging of low-priority material). (2F)

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"Restoring Book Paper and Drying Books after a Disaster," by Larissa B. Shapkina et al. (eight authors). Restaurator, v.13, 1992, p. 47-57.

The "restoring book paper" section describes a process of dry leafcasting, using airborne dry fibers that have on them droplets of a very stable acrylic/silicone thermoplastic. Air instead of water carries the fibers as it is drawn through the lacunae in the paper. The fibers are subsequently bonded to the paper and to each other by application of heat and pressure. This process can be used for moisture-sensitive documents, and the treatment is reversible using solvents. [In the paper industry there is a similar process, called dry forming or air felting.]

After the 1988 fire at the Library of the USSR Academy of Sciences, several million books, many of them rare books, were damaged by moisture, smoke or heat. The drying job was immense, and money was short. The Library and cooperating institutions used a variety of drying methods, including (for 200,000 books) freezing, followed by an innovative method of drying, which is described in the second section of this paper, and which should qualify as "appropriate technology" by anybody's definition. Ten to 15 frozen books of a similar size were wrapped up very tightly with an absorbent cloth (such as towelling) that had pockets sewed into it, covering each of the six sides of the package. They put sawdust into the pockets to absorb the water. This took a week, sometimes longer, under the conditions in the Library's Drying Room (30°C, 30% RH, with vigorous circulation of air). Three thousand to 4500 books could be dried in one cycle. Books were straightened and fumigated after drying.

This is probably the most detailed description in English of this remarkable process. (2F3.4)

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"Preventing Patron Theft in the Archives: Legal Perspectives and Problems," by Vincent A. Totka, Jr. American Archivist, v.56, Fall 1993, p. 664-672. The author (who holds degrees in history and library science, and works as a correctional officer) says, "Many archival repositories in the United States have a disaster plan to cope with a flood or fire, but few have a formalized plan to deal with theft." He reviews the problem of theft prevention, describes the survey to determine security awareness among member repositories in the State Historical Society of Wisconsin's Area Research Center (ARC) Network, and evaluates the situation.

He makes four recommendations on the last page:

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ArbeitsblŠtter des Arbeitskreises Nordrhein-WestfŠlischer Papierrestauratoren, 4. Ausgabe, 1992, contains eight illustrated articles (all in German, because this is the newsletter/journal of a regional organization of book and paper conservators), including the fashioning of book clasps, map conservation and treatment of water-damaged materials.

(3.3)

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Der Bucheinband: seine Technik und seine Geschichte, by P. Adam. München, London, Paris: K.G. Saur, 1993. 268 p. (Seemans Kunsthandbücher, 6) This is a reprint of the 1890 edition, which was published by Seemans from Leipzig. (3A1)

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"Salzschäden an Buchbeständen: Analyse und Möglichkeiten der Behebung," by Ulrike Hähner and Peter Zeisler. (In German) Restauro 3/94, p. 166-169. In late summer of 1944, a large part of the book collection of the University of Marburg was stored for safekeeping in a pit under a country house. Six months later, a fire broke out in the book storage area. The usual firefighting methods did not work; they saw that the only way to contain it was to wall off the area. Six months later they opened up the pit and found that 15% of the books had been consumed by the fire, others were heat-damaged, and all were wet. Salt crystals formed in the paper when restorers dried the books out, forming big lumps. The books had to be restored again, beginning in 1993. This article describes the process, including the salt removal methods. (3A3)

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The "Open Forum" department of the February 1993 New Library Scene goes into the issue of flat-vs.-rounded and backed spines pretty thoroughly, with contributions from Stephen P. Heckman, Gregor Campbell, and Paul Parisi. (3A4)

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"The Solander Box: Its Varieties and its Role as an Archival Unit of Storage for Prints and Drawings in a Museum, Archive or Gallery," by Niccolo Caldararo. Museum Management and Curatorship, v.12, p. 387-400, 1993. This is a review of what is known about Solander boxes as containers for housing artifacts: their history, research on their protective effect, evaluation of materials, design of construction, security aspects, cost, suppliers, alternative storage containers, everything. It is a gold mine of relevant information for any institution that is considering purchase of such containers for safe storage of artifacts. (3A8.1)

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