The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 19, Number 1
Mar 1996



Flash Magazine is all about laser printing, for people who like to print their own material at home or wherever, and subscribers get six little 100-page issues every year, heavily illustrated and full of chatty articles on stochastics, using color, b&w design, laser labels, glass etching with a laser printer, book binding, PostScript and books-on-demand publishing. It might be a good source of information for preservation people who have volunteered to do their group's newsletter, and want to venture into halftones, or who want to know where to get an ISSN number or what's wrong with using remanufactured cartridges. Or where to find clip art, sell their old printer, manage subscriptions or build a light box. Subscriptions are $29.70 per year. Address: Flash Magazine, Riddle Pond Road, West Topsham, VT 05086; e-mail is (1C8)


"The Effective Presentation of Statistics," by Robert DeCandido, is an article about using graphs as "rhetorical tools of considerable power" as well as rational tools for examining quantitative information. He explains how they can be useful for justifying items in your budget requests, among other things. This appeared in The New Library Scene for December 1995, on p. 5-6, 8-10. (1C8)


Two articles have appeared in the New York Times about material appearing on the Internet without the knowledge of the copyright holder. One was on p. A25 of the October 18, 1994 issue: "Infohighwaymen," by Nicholson Baker. He says that articles, essays and book excerpts by him that were originally published in the Atlantic Monthly, New Yorker and Playboy are being offered for sale by The Magazine Index, a service of Ziff Communications, on the Internet. He owns the copyright to all of them, but was never asked. He ordered several of his own pieces, and discovered that the service was very expensive, troubled by typos, and not dependable, as well as being built on piracy.

The other article in the New York Times appeared on p. A1 on March 18, 1996: "Book Publishers Worry About Threat of Internet," by Doreen Carvajal. This is about book piracy on the Internet. One of the first commercial books widely available on the Internet, Le Grand Secret, was banned in France, then popped up on several Web sites in different countries. Some people are downloading the whole book in one or more copies. In this case, the publisher doesn't mind, because he can't sell it anyway, but it shows what can happen.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is already on Web sites in Finland, Australia and Germany. The publishers call this "leakage." Publishers are hiring cybercops, pressing for legislation, and looking for a way to identify their property as such. Sometimes they find the person who has mounted their book on the Internet, and they send a warning letter. But some publishers are running chapter excerpts on their own corporate Web sites, and one (Time Warner Electronic Publishing) is running a serial novel, with no print edition planned, in order to establish an Internet presence. (1C9.5)


"Educational Policy Statement of the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services," ALCTS Newsletter, 7/1, 1996, p. 7-10. This was approved by the ALCTS Board of Directors, June 27, 1995. There is an appendix titled "Knowledge and Skills: Intellectual Access and Information Organization." Eleven areas of knowledge and skill for preservation are listed. Examples:


"Educational Opportunities: Bookbinding & Conservation Training in England," by Keith Valentine. CBBAG Newsletter, Winter 1995, p. 27-29. (1D6)


"RLG's Collaborative Model for Interinstitutional Preservation," by Nancy Elkington. Library Conservation News, Winter 95, p. 4-6. The Research Libraries Group is "a not-for-profit membership consortium of universities, archives, historical societies, museums, and other institutions devoted to improving access to information that supports research and learning." It has done a good job coordinating its member libraries in microfilming projects, and is now getting ready for digital reformatting projects. (1G5)


New and updated sections for Preservation of Library and Archival Materials: A Manual, edited by Sherelyn Ogden, were published by Northeast Document Conservation Center, Andover, Mass., in 1994. Ten new and ten revised sections ("technical leaflets"), available for $8.50 postpaid, will make the 1992 edition of this looseleaf manual into practically the equivalent of the 1994 edition, every section of which has been updated to some extent. People who do not have the 1992 edition can order the 1994 edition for $35 + $5 shipping.

Three of the new sections (10 pages) are on digital imaging. Excerpts: "The source of a digital image's strength is also the source of its weakness.... Today's improved access could easily be tomorrow's unreadable disk." (Peter Jermann, on "Digital Imaging Basics.") "Since libraries and archives can ill afford to become museums of obsolete computer technology, we must work simultaneously with manufacturers and within our own institutions to maintain the functionality of the systems we acquire and upgrade their capabilities as the technology evolves." (Paul Conway, on "The Implications of Digital Imaging for Preservation.") The third section on imaging is a bibliography.

The looseleaf format is ideal for a frequently updated series of leaflets that will be removed individually for photocopying, but it takes a while to put the newly revised sections in order in the book because there are no page numbers.

The purpose of the manual is to provide the basic, practical information needed to help non-conservator staff members integrate preservation principles into programs, or to carry out collections care programs. It is one of the more accurate and reliable manuals of this kind. (1H3)


The Canadian Council of Archives published three substantial guides in 1995. Each is priced at $17.50 in Canadian dollars, prepaid:

  1. The Conservation Assessment Guide for Archives. 85 pp. Covers assessment (by a conservator) of overall preservation situations through assessment of site, collections, policies, practices, procedures, roles and responsibilities.
  2. Conservation Environment Guidelines for Libraries and Archives. 102 pp. Applies to smaller, one-room archives as well as archives housed in dedicated buildings.
  3. Archival Enclosures: A Guide. 68 pp. This is apparently not a guide to construction of enclosures, but to standards and specifications used in ordering enclosures for all kinds of archival materials.

Prices include shipping and handling in Canada (no tax). Make check or money order in Canadian funds payable to the Canadian Council of Archives, at 344 Wellington St., Room 1009, Ottawa, ON K1A 0N3 (613/995-0210, fax 613/947-6662). (2.1)


"Rescuing the Record: A Centennial History of Preservation at the New York Public Library. Part I, 1895-1945," by John P. Baker. Biblion, 4/1, Fall 1995, p. 36-63. This covers the attitude toward preservation through the period, and librarians' awareness of damage from handling, interlibrary loan and so on; also the preservation aspects of dusting and binding, and the beginning of preservation microfilming.

The author reviews the complexities of preservation in a large library, and the tensions that can arise within the organization, "especially if change or remedial action must be introduced piecemeal, as is usually the case given the high costs involved." He describes the kind of library director under whom a preservation program can flourish, despite the inevitable tensions: "A library director endowed with unusual human qualities, leadership and administrative abilities, interpersonal skills, and courage is needed to give direction to the preservation program, to maintain balance between equally defensible values and conflicting goals within the organization, and to deal objectively and even-handedly with the multiplicity of issues and personalities that make up the daily operational environment." (2.5)


"Binding Conventions for Music Materials," by Edie Tibbits. Library Resources & Technical Services 40/1, Jan. 1996, p. 33-40. (2.6)


Bernard Kertesz of the Australian War Memorial reviews May Cassar's book, Environmental Management (available in the U.S. from Routledge--see p. 119 in the Dec. 15 issue), in detail in the AICCM Newsletter on p. 16-18. He says her description of the costs of running an air-conditioned space are sobering: twice those per square meter of unconditioned spaces, and the maintenance costs themselves are equivalent to the running costs. Quoting Cassar: "As a rule of thumb, it costs about four times as much to air-condition a building, even without humidification, as it does to simply heat it." (p. 78) The conclusion she draws from this is that one should know how to work for calculated economies, efficiencies of operation and reliable advice on acceptable parameters. This means establishing collaborative relationships with building management.

Kertesz says that another strong message from the book is that "passive systems are preferable if appropriate and that the least sophisticated solution is usually the most satisfactory one. As anyone familiar with sophisticated systems will acknowledge, no conditions are more extreme than those generated by a malfunctioning fully air-conditioned and humidified system and that no microclimate is more destructive than a malfunctioning active, microclimate control system." (2C1)


New Tools for Preservation: Assessing Long-Term Environmental Effects on Library and Archives Collections, by James M. Reilly, Douglas W. Nishimura, and Edward Zinn. Commission on Preservation and Access, Washington, DC, Nov. 1995.

This publication is a response to preservation administrators' request for a guide to setting environmental conditions for libraries. Its approach is like Don Sebera's isoperm, being based on the rate of chemical deterioration rather than mechanical damage or mold. However, it introduces two new concepts: the Preservation Index (PI) and Time-Weighted Preservation Index (TWPI). The PI gives an idea of life expectancy in years at a given temperature and RH, while the TWPI shows the life expectancy in years, under the conditions it experienced over a certain period of time. The assumption is that the average book or document will last 50 years at 72°F and 35% RH; cooler and drier conditions are assigned higher values, while warmer and moister conditions get lower values, all the way down to 3. There are tables giving these values for every set of conditions.

These two concepts or tools (PI and TWPI) may need some tweaking to make them fully useful to preservation administrators both for their daily work and for promotion of better conditions at budget time. Questions that come to mind are:

There are four appendices. The first briefly discusses the forms of deterioration in organic collection materials: pollutant-induced deterioration, light-induced deterioration, biological deterioration, and physical (i.e., dimensional changes in response to changes in RH) deterioration. The last kind is not important in collections of organic materials. The second appendix discusses the Arrhenius equation and accelerated aging, and has a nice long table summarizing about 50 studies on activation energies of various materials.

The third appendix covers the technical basis for the PI concept, and the fourth covers temperature and RH equilibration in TWPI analysis, that is, how long it takes for the material inside a box or between book covers to reach the same temperature or RH of the environment. Temperature equilibrates in 24 hours, but RH takes a month or so. (2C1.7)


"Sick Library Syndrome," by R.J. Hay. The Lancet, v. 346, Dec. 16, 1995, p. 1573-1574. The author is at St. John's Institute of Dermatology, Guy's Hospital, London, UK. He says that there has been a flurry of medical interest lately in health threats from microorganisms in libraries, fueled by a study of the colonization of library books by bacteria, mainly Staphylococcus epidermidis. In a comment on that report, another writer in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology argued that fungal infections were more likely than bacterial infections. This writer agrees, saying that fungi and their mycotoxins do make people sick. Mycotoxins include aflatoxins, ochratoxin A and patulin, which cause irreversible cellular damage in different target organs, especially the liver or kidneys. Patulin is one that also causes neurological damage.

In his last paragraph, the author becomes flippant, as if trying not to depress his reading audience, playing with the idea that fungi could cause permanent mental impairment among scholars and literati, and suggesting that some writers may have found enlightenment and inspiration from hallucinations caused by inhaling the metabolites of certain fungi. There is a bibliography of mostly recent articles from the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology and other relevant medical journals. (2C1.8)


"New Trends in Coatings Technology: Coatings for the 21st Century," by Clifford K. Schoff. ASTM Standardization News, Oct. 1995, p. 24-27. This is an overview of coatings, including several types that are used on storage cabinets and shelving for libraries, though they are not identified as such: solvent-borne high solids coatings, powder coatings, and radiation cure coatings. The industry is rapidly changing its materials and methods, because of health and environmental concerns. Powder coatings, it says are well established in the metal furniture market and elsewhere because they are very efficient to use. The initial powder coating chemistry was epoxy-based, but now there are acrylics, polyesters, polyester-epoxies, acrylic-epoxies, polyurethanes, fluoropolymers, vinyls, and nylons. So when powder coatings are specified for library furniture, perhaps one should specify which kind of powder coatings are acceptable. (2C2.2)


Ontzuren vanboeken en archivalia met het Battelle-proces/ Deacidification of Books and Archival Materials with the Battelle Process. (In Dutch and English) Coördinatiepunt Nationaal Conserveringsbeleid, Den Haag, Netherlands, Feb. 1996. 48 pp. ISSN 0926-2938. Available at the price of 25 Dutch guilders from the CNC secretariat: p/a Prins Willem-Alexanderhof 5, Postbus 90407, 2509 LK Den Haag. The CNC is a joint association of the National Library and the General State Archives of The Netherlands.

This summarizes and presents test results for the CNC's evaluation of the Battelle deacidification system. They found that it inhibited degradation in 84% of books and 2 out of 3 archival materials, and protected against acid air pollutants. However, it had a number of shortcomings. Many (40%) of the books and 2 out of 3 archival materials lost strength as a result of the treatment; some were not protected. There were side effects: discolorations, white deposit, Newton rings, bleeding of inks and dyes, odor and a different feeling to the paper. It is thought that the high pH of treated materials and the titanium compounds used may catalyze alkaline and photooxidative deterioration. More research and development is recommended. (2D5.9)


"Selection for Preservation: A Digital Solution for Illustrated Texts," by Janet Gertz. Library Resources & Technical Services 40/1, Jan. 1996, p. 78-83. From the abstract: "At least for the present, we need to combine digitization with analog preservation methods...." The author refers to the 1994 project undertaken with CPA funds, to test the hybrid approach on illustrated materials, and says, "Scanning the microfiche can, in fact, produce digital images with legibility equal to the images made directly from the original printed maps." (2E)


Preservation Microfilming: A Guide for Librarians & Archivists, 2nd ed. Edited by Lisa L. Fox for the Association of Research Libraries. Chicago and London: American Library Association, 1996. xxx, 394 pp. ISBN: 0-8389-0653-2. Cloth, $70; ALA members $63. To order, call 1-800-545-4233 & press 7; or fax 312/836-9958. ALA order code 0653-2-2036. (The flier from ALA says the book has "about 480 pages," and was published in 1995, but it is wrong.)

This is a hardcover book, the same height and width as the softcover 1987 edition that was edited by Nancy Gwinn, but about 185 pages longer. It makes an attractive and easy-to-read book, well laid out and printed, with a detailed table of contents, comprehensive text and a 15-page index (as opposed to a 5 page index in the old one). It is clearly written, informally but precisely, like its predecessor. In fact, in the new edition, the best features of the 1987 edition have been kept, and made even better.

Digitizing was not even mentioned in the first edition. The 1996 edition, however, compares digital and microform image capture both in the text (p. 17-20) and in Appendix C (p. 308-309). It favors preservation microfilm for first capture, with the possibility of making a digital copy from it, because microfilm is a well-established, archival preservation medium that is supported by national standards and that does not require a "zealous commitment to data refreshing."

In the Appendixes section, there is a 21-page glossary, a long worksheet for estimating project costs, ARL guidelines for bibliographic records, target sequences for monographs, serials and archives and manuscripts, an unusually thorough list of preservation options for deteriorated books (p. 305-309), an annotated list of service providers and funding agencies, and lists of ANSI standards, technical reports and specifications and guidelines. (Among the published guidelines one finds listed the two recent RLG manuals, which cover preservation microfilming and microfilming of archival materials. They are referred to on p. 26 as the primary sources for written documentation on all aspects of preservation microfilming.)

There are lists of suggested readings at the end of each major section, and a generous number of footnotes, but no unified list of either footnoted references or suggested readings. (2E1)


Digital Collections Inventory Report, by Patricia A. McClung. Washington, DC: Council on Library Resources and the Commission on Preservation & Access, Feb. 1996. 26 [36] pp. $20 from the CPA 1400 16th St. NW, Washington, DC 20036.

This is a godsend for anyone who is confused about who is doing what kind of digitizing project with what kinds of materials, as well as for the people who cannot keep up with the activities of the Digital Preservation Consortium, the Digital Archiving Task Force, the National Digital Library Federation and all the rest. McClung's report is an effort to bring some order to this confusing situation. As she says in her Preface, "The idea was to take a first cut at sketching the nature and extent of efforts to make traditional, retrospective collections available in digital form, rather than to produce a comprehensive inventory." She discovered a surprising variety of projects, done for different purposes, and had to decide which to include, and how to group them. Included are projects which are planned, underway, or completed (many of them experimental).

It turned out, in the course of her survey, that even the central terms--scanning, digitizing, and electronic conversion--are defined and used differently by different people, and no two projects were exactly alike. She sorted them out and focussed on two types of digital imaging projects: those with accompanying metadata for describing, structuring, and indexing the image database; and those with additional text-searchable files generated from the images. She lists and describes them under the following headings, giving a contact person, with e-mail and telephone number:

  1. Very large projects featuring national literature, history, and/or politics
  2. Examples of broad subject areas with significant activity (e.g. law; literature, history, and culture; and science and technology)
  3. Examples of special, archival, and manuscript collections
  4. Infrastructure projects and other sources of information about digital collections.

Appendixes I-III are the actual lists of projects compiled by other organizations: the ALA/RLMS's 1994 Survey of Imaging Projects (66 items, plus some planned and new projects); an Arizona-based list of image databases, plus a two-page description of the clearinghouse that maintains it; and an Emory University-based list of electronic text projects, including some in other countries. There is some overlap among the lists. (2E3)


Preservation in the Digital World, by Paul Conway. Published March 1996 by the Commission on Preservation and Access, 1400 16th St., NW, Suite 740, Washington, DC 10036-2217. 24 pp. $15.

The first part of this publication is like a philosophical guidebook to the world of digital preservation, explaining how familiar concepts have to be redefined for use with this new kind of material, and identifying the aspects that will stay the same. On page 12, with the section "Preservation Management in the Digital World," Conway gets down to business, spelling out the implications for preservation with the new materials; and some of them are surprising. Possibly others would see a different set of implications, but his seem realistic and defensible. Here are a few excerpts, from the section "Context for Action," which comments on nine preservation concepts and describes how they will need to be modified:

Custody: In the digital world, a library, archives, or museum cannot make a decision to adopt imaging technologies for long-term conversion and storage of research collections in digital form without a deep and continuing commitment to preservation by the parent institution. The preservation mission that was once largely the prerogative of the library must become the preservation mandate of the parent institution....

Structure: Organization for preservation in the digital world is... an ongoing process of risk management, where the cost of digital file migration is judged against the cost of failure to preserve the files in terms of the patrons who need the information....

Choice: ...It is a rare collection of digital files, indeed, that can justify the cost of a comprehensive migration strategy without factoring in the larger intellectual context of related digital files stored elsewhere and their combined uses for research and scholarship....

Integrity: A commitment to the physical integrity of a digital image file has far less to do with the media upon which the data are stored than with the loss of information that occurs when a file is created originally and then compressed mathematically for storage or transmission across a network.... The preservation of intellectual integrity also involves authentication procedures, like audit trails, to make sure files are not altered intentionally or accidentally.

Access: ...Administrators who have responsibility for selecting systems for converting materials with long-term value also bear responsibility for providing long-term access to the digital versions. This responsibility is a continuing one.... Digital image conversion in an operational environment requires a deep and longstanding institutional commitment to preservation, the full integration of the technology into information management procedures and processes, and significant leadership in developing appropriate definitions and standards for digital preservation.

The last section, "A New Framework for Effective Leadership," summarizes key aspects of digital imaging technology that are important for long-term access to digital image files, and distinguishes between the ones for which preservation personnel must be responsible, the features over which they can have some influence, and features that must be accepted as they are. (2E3)


"Selecting Microfilm for Digital Preservation: A Case Study from Project Open Book," by Paul Conway. Library Resources and Technical Services 40/1, Jan. 1996, p. 67-77. (2E3)


Oversize Color Images Project, 1994-1995: A Report to the Commission on Preservation and Access, by Janet Gertz. Washington, DC: Commission on Preservation and Access, Aug. 1995. 22 pp. $10 prepaid from the CPA. The full text of the final report and almost 300 images of the maps are available via Columbia's Web server, at

Oversize materials folded into bound volumes are common in architecture and many of the sciences, and are often damaged from use and embrittlement. To minimize handling of the originals, it was preferred to handle the materials only once while making a preservation master (color film) and then to make the digital master from the film, if possible. The project showed this to be quite feasible.

This was a well-planned project that broke new ground. Three vendors scanned the fiche, working to specs furnished by the project, and determined the level of resolution needed to capture at least as much information as the color fiche. Images were mounted on the Web and their availability announced; users evaluated them for ease of access and image quality. Large-scale printouts were made and systematically evaluated. Other aspects were explored: bibliographic control, costs, working with vendors, and organizational issues. The project continues. (2E3.5)


"Disaster Prevention, Response, & Recovery: A Selected Bibliography - Part II," by Susan E. Schur. Technology & Conservation 3/95, p. 23-31, 34. This is a big bibliography, because there will be at least three parts, and it has about 40 items per page. It was compiled for the conference held in October 1992 on disaster prevention, response, and recovery, cosponsored by Technology and Conservation. Part I appeared in the Summer 1994 issue, and Part III will be in the next issue. Most items are from 1965 to 1992. Besides publications on prevention and mitigation, and guidelines for recovery, it also includes publications that focus on underlying mechanisms of fire initiation, propagation, and control; flooding and water control; seismic activity; wind-related phenomena; and threats to cultural property posed by smoke, fire, water, vibration, and wind, as well as by civic unrest. All the references are listed alphabetically. (2F)


The National Fire Protection Association has recently published its Recommended Practice for Disaster Management (NFPA 1600 - 1995), which presents minimum criteria for disaster management and development of a program for effective disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. It is available from NFPA, 1 Batterymarch Park, PO Box 9101, Quincy, MA 02269-9101. (2F3)


Library Disaster Planning, by Maria Skepastianu, with the assistance of Jean I. Whiffin. Prepared for the IFLA Section on Conservation and Preservation, 1995. 8 pages. The actual guidelines are only four pages long. There is a three-page bibliography, nearly all of which is in English. For information, write the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, P.O.B. 95312, 2509 CH The Hague, Netherlands. (2F3.3)


Mista Fire Minutes is a quarterly newsletter from the Reliable Automatic Sprinkler Co., Inc., 525 North MacQuesten Parkway, Mt. Vernon, New York 10552. Issue #3 came out in the fall of 1995. It provides news and information about the use of water mist for fire suppression, a system still undergoing testing but giving amazing results. It has been tested at the University of Maryland and the Library of Congress, and will be tested at Canterbury Shaker Village, New Hampshire and the National Park Service, if it has not already been. Kathy A. Slack is the editor (914/662-4407). (2F7)


"Anoxic Microenvironments: A Simple Guide," by John Burke. SPNHC Leaflets, A Technical Publication Series of the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections. Vol. 1 #1, Spring 1996. 4 pp., 10 refs. Editor of the Leaflets is Sally Shelton, San Diego Natural History Museum, PO Box 1390, San Diego, CA 92112. The author says that the use of anoxic environments for treating infested objects in museums has become much more common lately, now that inexpensive barrier plastics and oxygen absorbers are available. The guide is clearly written by someone with firsthand knowledge and experience. (2H3.4)


Barbara Appelbaum announced on the Conservation DistList March 18 that Art & Archaeology Technical Abstracts (AATA) has published a 15-year (1974-1988) cumulative index, edited by herself and Jessica Brown. There are "29,000 irresistable abstracts" in this two-volume work, which can be ordered for $135 from the Getty Sales and Distribution Center at 1-800/223-3431. (3.1)


"Phytate: A Potential Conservation Agent for the Treatment of Ink Corrosion Caused by Irongall Inks," by Johan G. Neevel. Restaurator 16: 143-160, 1995.

Iron-gall ink first discolors the paper it is on, and ultimately eats its way through the paper. The discoloration may be due to cellulose-oxidation products, or iron (III) hydroxide, formed by oxidation of iron (II) ions. A treatment to halt this corrosion has been sought for many years. Sodium phytate, an antioxidant, gives very promising results in an aqueous solution, increasing the pH of the ink and strength of the paper after aging, compared to the controls. (Magnesium phytate may have a similar effect, but may cause fewer brown stains during drying.) Extra deacidification may not be needed.

This work was done at the Central Research Lab in Amsterdam. Future research will focus on developing a nonaqueous treatment with phytate and a comparison of phytate with ammonium caseinate, which also protects paper against ink corrosion, possibly by complexing iron ions. (3B1.9)

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