The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 22, Number 2
1998


Literature

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Conservación de libros y documentos. Glosario de términos técnicos. Inglés-español/español-inglés, by J. McCleary. 1997. 174 pp. Ptas. 2.490. [Reference from the Gazette du livre médiéval, #32. No publisher indicated.]

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"A Tale of a Swiss Village: How Scholars and Residents Chose Cows Over Condos." Chronicle of Higher Education, Aug. 14, 1998, p. B2.

Grindelwald is a popular alpine resort which ten years ago appeared to be in danger of gross commercialization, until the chief of planning for the town decided to do something to preserve its natural environment and promote sustainable development. He used persuasion expertly and effectively, involving villagers and farmers in the formation of land use policies that have saved the village.

Since persuasion is a technique that often has to be used in preservation, but is rarely described in print, this article may lend inspiration to those who are trying to save library collections.

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Choosing to Preserve: Toward a Cooperative Strategy for Long-Term Access to the Intellectual Heritage. Papers of the international conference organized by the European Commission on Preservation and Access and Die Deutsche Bibliothek, Leipzig/Frankfurt am Main, March 1996. 165 pp., 1997. $20 from CLIR, 1755 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Ste. 500, Washington DC 20036-2218 (fax 202/939-4765; e-mail: info@clir.org).

About seventeen papers, twelve of which are in English. Speakers included Deanna Marcum, Galina Kislovskaya, Trudy Huskamp Peterson, Winston Tabb, Wolfgang Wächter (in German) and Hartmut Weber. Mirjam Foot coauthored a paper on international cooperation, and Bernhard Fabian gave the keynote speech, "Preservation - A Personal View."

In Fabian's opinion, the usual choices for preservation of endangered texts (microreproduction and electronic storage) are both highly problematic: "...I should like to recommend for consideration the facsimile reprint as a quasi-primary form of replacement. Reprinting is a well-established process and replaces a book by a book. In principle, reprinting is the best method available to counteract the decay of the printed tradition. And it is also the best means we have to ensure that texts to be read will be read and, above all, can be read." But Fabian's thesis was not discussed by others, because the conference was formally organized: each speaker described his or her own approach (or their institution's approach) to preservation policy and cooperation.

This is not a book about preserving library collections by digitizing them. It is a collection of leaders' views on cooperative (and potentially cooperative) preservation policies: selection for preservation with or without the involvement of scholarly societies; microfilming and other means of reproducing text; collecting library materials; resource sharing; deacidification; disaster planning; bibliographic control of preservation records (e.g., NRMM); raising public awareness, and so on.

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Ensuring a Future for Our Past. New York State Historical Records Advisory Board, 1998. 54 pp. As Governor Pataki says in his letter of endorsement, this little book "offers a blueprint for strengthening programs that identify, preserve, and ensure future access to our historical records." Preservation is woven into the priorities, goals and objectives in this strategic plan.

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Conservation Research: Needs and Provisions, Proceedings of the colloquium held on 1 July 1997 at De Montfort University Leicester. Kate Foley and Vincent Shacklock, editors. Distributed by Faculty of Art & Design, De Montfort University Lincoln, Chad Varah House, Wordsworth St., Lincoln LN1 3BP, UK (tel. 44 1522.512912). ISBN 1-85721-250-9. 66 pp.

This colloquium brought together British users and providers of conservation research to define problems and plan the future. Funding, of course, was a major problem, as it had been at the 1988 symposium on conservation research. Research needs of museums, architects, artifact conservators and grant-giving bodies are discussed in the first section of the book, but not in great depth.

The four papers in the second section are written with greater understanding of the total picture and make unexpected and insightful recommendations. They are:

"Vision, Application & Collaborative Action: Factors for Successful Research Programmes" - John Fidler
"Contexts for Conservation Research" - Nigel Seeley
"Attracting Partners: Increasing the Effectiveness of Research" - Clifford Price
"National Museums--Honest Brokers?" - Jonathan Ashley-Smith

John Fidler names and describes, with examples, seven types of problems that beset conservation research in the United Kingdom: 1) Unequal emphasis in types of research and lack of interdisciplinary working; 2) Poor quality of research; 3) Missed opportunities in well-sponsored research; 4) Lack of common test standards; 5) Publication ["Researchers regurgitate basic material in different publishing outlets, presumably to increase their citation indices.... Up to 20% of references are self-citation (Benarie)"]; 6) Funding research; and 7) Lack of oversight of research for conservation. [These problems must also affect conservation research in other countries, to various extents.]

Jonathan Ashley-Smith's views are always worth reading. He writes well, has a good understanding of the management aspects of museums and conservation, articulates problems and solutions clearly, and expresses his ideas with refreshing frankness. His conclusions: "If there is going to be research that is multidisciplinary, it should be problem-related or decision-enabling. This doesn't mean that it has to be an individual local problem--it could be generic. Best value for money would come from solving generic problems.

"Collaboration must be genuine. This works best with relevant local partnerships.... The concept of a 'Centre of Excellence' is good.... If we can't get the government to change its mind and start funding research, then sectors of industry that benefit from conservation expertise could be persuaded to support us...."

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In 1996 the National Park Service issued six new "Conserve O Grams," of which four are on books and paper:

Storing Archival Paper-Based Materials
Housing Archival Paper-Based Materials
Handling Archival Documents and Manuscripts
How to Care for Bound Archival Materials

The first three can be recommended without reservation, but the fourth one is not completely in step with current practice in book conservation. All four seem easy to use, though they are not meant for use by the general public: they were sent to Park superintendents and center managers and to non-NPS users who subscribe to the series through the Superintendent of Public Documents. The fifth and sixth are on care of archival compact discs and archival digital and magnetic media. One-quarter of the 80 or so published Conserve O Grams are on archival and manuscript collections and rare books. They are numbered 19/1 through 19/20.

The complete set costs $56 from the Superintendent of Documents, PO 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954 (fax 202/512-2250). Use processing code 3128.

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Selecting Research Collections for Digitization, by Dan Hazen, Jeffrey Horrell and Jan Merrill-Oldham. Council on Library and Information Resources, Washington, DC, Aug. 1998. $15. vii + 19 pp. ISBN 1-887334-60-2.

This is a clear, easy-to-read guide that answers all the important questions in the mind of the person or people who are trying to get a digitization project off the ground. It is full of common sense, but it is not oversimplified.

The chapters are:

Copyright: The Place to Begin,
The Intellectual Nature of the Source Materials,
Current and Potential Users,
Actual and Anticipated Nature of Use,
The Format and Nature of the Digital Product,
Describing, Delivering, and Retaining the Digital Product,
Relationships to Other Digital Efforts, and
Costs and Benefits.

There is a flow chart ("decision-making matrix") on a foldout page just inside the back cover, for the steps involved in selection for digitizing. It can help avoid moves into blind alleys, as well as encourage economical projects that bring maximum benefit.

The second through the eighth chapters all start with a bit of background, then list some "Questions to Ask," with answers immediately following each question, e.g., "How do scholars use the existing source materials? What approach to digitization will facilitate their work?" The answer is discursive, considering in turn the goal or purpose of the digital product, various ways to digitize, aspects of processing textual materials (indexing, etc.), the usefulness of ASCII texts, SGML and EAD for searching the material, and ways in which earlier choices can make the material difficult or impossible to use later on. This all illustrates the concern for the user, a topic that comes up in several of the chapters.

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"Compliance in Recovery: Regulatory Requirements in the Aftermath of Disaster," by Monona Rossol. AIC News, Sept. 1998, v.23 #5, pp. 1, 4-7.

Local, institutional, and national regulations can stymie disaster recovery efforts for extended periods of time, but are seldom adequately described in the literature of disaster planning and recovery. This article brings together as much as it can in five pages, and offers recommendations that can help museums prepare for an encounter with these regulations:

Provide up-to-date OSHA surveys of chemicals or toxic collection materials (because, for instance, firefighters may want to merely contain the fire rather than enter a building with unknown hazards).

Comply with all fire, OSHA, EPA, and other health and safety regulations before the disaster (because fire departments, OSHA, EPA, health departments, building inspectors, insurance adjusters and others may all be involved in investigation of a disaster; tests and cleanup may have to be done, and lawsuits and bad press may follow).

All museum recovery workers must be safety trained.

Cleanup of highly toxic substances require licensing and/or certification of workers. This includes lead, asbestos, PCBs and other substances.

Structural and fall hazards must be eliminated before institutional staff can be admitted.

The building must be fire protected. This means that fire extinguishers, fire escape routes, exit signs, fire doors and alarms must be in working order, and employees must have annual training in use of fire extinguishers; otherwise, fines and citations may result.

Workers must be informed about the hazards of addressing the collection; this means hazards in the collection, contaminants from the disaster, soot of all sorts, and mold.

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Hurricane! Surviving the Big One: A Primer for Libraries, Museums, and Archives, by Michael Trinkley. 2nd ed. A copublication of SOLINET and Chicora Foundation, 1998. 102 pp., accompanied by a free packet of information on recovery from water damage, provided by Heritage Preservation. $15 postpaid; prepayment required. To order call Alicia Riley at SOLINET (800/999-8558 or 404/892-0943, ext. 205).

This guide seems to cover all the angles reasonably well (in reasonably nontechnical language): developing a disaster plan, the nature and effects of hurricanes, making buildings stormproof, preparation for the storm, whether to stay or leave, what to expect after the storm, recovery procedures for various materials, dealing with mold, and rebuilding. It has several pages of sources for more information, and three appendices. There is no index.

The section on mold in the chapter on recovery is weak. (This is not unusual in preservation literature, because there are so few bridges between it and the specialties or organizations that generate applicable information, including mycology, occupational and environmental medicine, industrial hygiene, toxicology, indoor air quality and immunology.) The mold-related definitions and terminology in this book seem arbitrary and sometimes made up. "Mold," for instance, is defined as "fungi that grow in filamentous forms." But in Alexopoulos's Introductory Mycology, this distinction is not made. At the recent bioaerosols conference in Saratoga Springs, mycologists and other professionals from 14 countries used the terms mold and fungi synonymously. And why does the author define the Ascomycetes and Fungi Imperfecti as "the two most common 'problem' molds for preservationists"? Those are not molds; they are classes of molds. In the taxonomy of fungi, this is three steps above the genus and species, which for practical purposes is the significant level because methods of prevention, recognition and cleanup depend on the species involved, not the class to which they belong.

The author of the hurricane manual defines conidia as bodies used for asexual reproduction, implying that spores are not used for asexual reproduction (most fungi use both sexual and asexual means). Actually, conidia are a kind of spore. The mycology textbook quoted above says, on p. 18, "Fungal spores produced asexually are either borne in sporangia and are then called sporangiospores, or produced at the tips or sides of hyphae in various ways and are then called conidia." A mycology professor at the aerosols conference confirmed that conidia are a kind of spore. The great majority of speakers used only the word spore, and this guide should have done the same, not only because the experts do, but because it is especially important to use common terminology when trying to reach a wide audience.

One more point: Under "Health Risks of Mold," molds are described as being "not particularly good for people," because of the likelihood of respiratory symptoms and allergies, especially if mold poisons (mycotoxins) are present. The possibility of dying or being disabled for life by heavy infestations of molds like Stachybotris Chartarum (formerly Atra), and the advisability of checking for mold growth within surface-contaminated walls is not mentioned. Neither is the fact that continued or massive exposure can affect the brain and nervous system of people whether or not they are constitutionally predisposed to allergies and whether or not their immune system is suppressed.

Grossly contaminated areas should not be cleaned up by library staff, but by qualified occupational health or other specialists working under contract and using special equipment. The chapter on mold covers the hiring of contractors, and Appendix II, "Suggested Scope of Work for Mold Clean-up," covers this fairly well, but the health issues in mold cleanup are better covered in the lead article in the September 1998 AIC News, "Compliance in Recovery: Regulatory Requirements in the Aftermath of Disaster" on p. 6-7.

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The proceedings of the last international conference of the Institute of Paper Conservation have been published. Contact Clare Hampson, IPC, Leigh Lodge, Leigh, Worcester WR6 5LB, England (+44 (0) 1886 832323, fax 1886 833688, e-mail <clare@ipc.org.uk>).

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The British Library Guide to Bookbinding, by P.J.M. Marks. London: British Library, 1998. 96 pp., 25 cm. £9.95. [Reference from the Gazette du livre médiéval, #32, p. 60.]

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Paper Coating Additives: A Project of the Coating Additives Committee of the Coating and Graphic Arts Division. Robert J. Kane, Task Group Chairman. TAPPI Press (tel. 770/446-1400, fax 770/446-6947), Atlanta, 1995. 142 pp. $46, hardcover, alkaline paper.

When flood recovery is held up by fire department or insurance investigations, it may be several days before conservators can get in the building, and blocking may already have occurred by the time they get in. Little or no research has been done on this problem, possibly because there was no way to learn the composition of the coatings.

This book describes the additives used in coatings, including colorants, lubricants, insolubilizers, preservatives, foam control agents and water retention and rheology modifiers. The chapters are written and reviewed by experts on these separate topics. They are well written and edited, despite the inevitable chemical formulas and terminology.

The additives that modify the binding agents (starch, protein, resins) in the coating may hold the key to a solution, if there is one. Chapter 8 is on insolubilizers, which confer water resistance and may also strengthen the binder to help the paper make it through a printing press (with its aqueous fountain solution) without experiencing surface damage. This helps explain why it doesn't help to soak pages in water to separate them. Whether the action of the insolubilizer can be reversed is hard to say.

The Abbey Publications office purchased a copy of Paper Coating Additives so that it could be announced in this column. Since it will not be used for editorial purposes, it is offered for sale at $40 plus postage, or best offer.

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"Effect of Accelerated Fading on the Stability of Inks Marked on Different Types of Papers," by H.R. Hamed et al. International Journal of Forensic Document Examiners, July-Sept. 1997, p. 229-236.

This is subtitled "A study to determine the stability of different writing inks to fading on different paper products." All of the five authors work in Egypt.

Eight inks were subjected to accelerated fading for 100 hours and color changes in the ink observed. Brand names of the pens used, and 12 variables for the paper were tested before and after aging. Both paper and ink were analyzed for 20 different metals. It seems to be a very thorough study. The type of paper did affect the fading rate of the inks, but not uniformly. On white writing paper with a pH of 8.51 and a high ash content, the "alkali blue fountain pen ink" (Makson) changed radically and the "aqueous black ink" (Pelikan 4001) hardly at all. Stability of the ink, they conclude, depends on the pH and composition of both the paper and the ink. Fountain pen inks were less stable than ball-point pen ink, possibly because they include more Cu, Mn, Ca and Al, which promote oxidation.

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Care and Conservation of Manuscripts. Proceedings of the first international seminar on the care and conservation of manuscripts, held at the University of Copenhagen 25-26 April 1994. Ed. by G. Fellows-Jensen. Copenhagen: Royal Library, 1995. 85 pp. DKr 75.

The third seminar in this series was also held at the University of Copenhagen, on October 14-15, 1996. The proceedings were edited by Gillian Fellows-Jensen and Peter Springborg. ISBN 87-7023-074-9. Two or three of the papers were on digitization (by Jonas Palm, Wolfgang Undorf and Robert Fuchs); one was on blue colorants; and two on the physical archaeology of the book (Erik Petersen and Nicholas Hadgraft).

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"Ringing up a Coffee Stain." Science News, v. 152, Nov. 8, 1997, p. 298. This is an example of minor research (originally reported in the Oct. 23, 1997, Nature), on a topic, tidelines, that has already been explored in conservation, most recently by Elmer Eusman. It was done by Robert D. Deegan and colleagues at the James Franck Institute of the University of Chicago. They explained the tideline from a drop of coffee as the result of "a particular type of capillary flow," which they demonstrated with suspended polystyrene spheres, 1 micrometer in diameter, on a microscope slide. They regard all such rings, according to the report in Science News, as the result of the movement of solids to the edge of the wet area.

Deegan's work may actually be complementary to research done in conservation.

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"Utilizing Cellulon® Cellulosic Fiber for Binding in Nonwoven Applications," by Frank J. Miskiel. Tappi Journal v. 81 #3, Mar. 1998, p. 183-186.

Cellulon is a bacterial cellulose made by a strain of Acetobacter in an agitated culture. It is composed of extremely fine (0.1 mm in diameter) reticulated fibers with a high surface area. These are well pictured in the paper's four photomicrographs at 3500x and 8500x. It has a great affinity to water and hydrogen bonds easily, which makes it valuable as a binding agent and retention aid in the forming of paper and polyester nonwovens (such as Hollytex).

Monsanto bought the product from Weyerhaeuser in 1995. The particular strain of Acetobacter selected by Weyerhaeuser is unusual, if not unique, in being able to produce cellulose in an agitated solution.

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"When did Chrome Tanning Start?" by R.S. Thomson. Leather Conservation News, v.13 #1, 1997, p. 1-3.

Standard textbooks on leather manufacture have historical introductions that are written to the same low standards of accuracy as historical introductions in other fields, where their function seems to be merely to awaken the attention of the nonspecialist reader. The author is at the Leather Conservation Centre (334 Guildhall Rd., Northampton, NN1 1EW, UK), where chrome tannage has to be identified so conservators can treat artifacts properly. He summarizes the usual wrong dates, inventors and processes, then gives the real ones, documenting the corrected version with 32 references.

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