The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 23, Number 7
1999


Literature

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Safeguarding the Documentary Heritage, A Guide to Standards, Recommended Practices and Reference Literature Related to the Preservation of Documents of All Kinds. Edited by George Boston. (Memory of the World Programme) 56 pp. Free copies can be ordered from the UNESCO offices in Paris. Write to Mr. Abdelaziz Abid, Division du Programme general d'information, UNESCO, 1 rue Miollis, 75732 Paris, France.

This publication was announced in Vol. 22 on p. 91b of this newsletter, but could not be described because no copy had been received yet. Mr. Abid sent a copy in March.

Seven contributors from six European countries wrote the seven chapters, the last six of which deal with types of materials or carriers (e.g., paper and traditional materials, or magnetic materials). The first chapter, only two pages long, covers "General Preservation Factors" under four subheadings:

Preservation Masters and Access Copies
Obsolescence of Hardware
Maintenance of Equipment
Climatic Conditions

These topics are also covered, where appropriate, in the other chapters.

It is hard to generalize about this book, for several reasons. The language is sometimes obscure because of the choice of words and sentence structure, so some chapters would be hard for a non-native English speaker to read; but the book will be translated into other languages, and there is a glossary in the back. Some chapters contain large errors of fact or emphasis, while others (e.g., the chapter on photographic materials) are impressive for the soundness of their advice and the knowledge of the writer.

In the chapter on "Paper and Other Traditional Materials," the page on which paper is discussed is full of errors. Only hand papermaking is described; the low quality of 19th century paper is said to be due to the use of wood pulp, although this did not begin until about the time of the Civil War, and the heavy use of acid sizing should take about half of the blame for the brittleness of paper. Additives intended to "counteract the natural acidity of the wood" are said to have broken down the fibers and made paper brittle. There is no mention of calcium carbonate or paper permanence standards.

Preservation methods mentioned do not include temperature or humidity regulation, and the reader is advised to leave "specialist microfilming, copying or conservation work" to trained personnel. Microfilming is not recommended for periodicals. Mass deacidification is described as an expensive process, and is not recommended, though two processes intended for use in countries or institutions where money and technical expertise are scarce were recently invented and described in print. Both were published or described in the Alkaline Paper Advocate:

1. U.S. Patent Number 5,433,827, entitled "Method for the Deacidification of Papers and Books."

The Pulp and Paper Research Institute of Canada (Paprican) owns the patent. It entails interleaving books every six pages with paper containing calcium carbonate, after conditioning the books to a humidity above 85%. They are then placed under pressure for days or months. Chemical stability is achieved not by deposition of an alkaline reserve, but probably by modification of the structure of the acid groups within the paper, making them unable to catalyze hydrolysis of the cellulose. A fuller description is on pp. 33-34, 36 of the October 1995 issue of the Alkaline Paper Advocate (v. 8 #3).

2. U.S. Patent #5,393,562, "Method of Preserving and Storing Books and Other Papers," was awarded to Dr. Donald K. Sebera, who assigned it to the Library of Congress.

Unlike the Paprican patent, this one requires very little hand work but is designed to work in closed or limited-access storage areas, where a very dilute ammonia gas (1-10 ppm) is maintained. This is enough to keep the pH of acidic books up to a pH of 6 or 7 and give them 95% of the benefit they would get from complete deacidification by the usual methods. It is so dilute, however, that the odor is just at or below the detectable level. The full description is on p. 105 of the Abbey Newsletter for Dec. 31, 1996 (v.20 #8), and on p. 12 of the Alkaline Paper Advocate, April 1997, v. 10 #1.

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A detailed comparison of the features of 24 high-efficiency HEPA/ULPA vacuum cleaners, prepared by Chris Stavroudis, ran in the September 1997 WAAC Newsletter, on p. 14. (ulpa=Ultra-Low Penetration Air.) What got him started on this project was learning about the effects of lead on children and adults, and realizing that the conservation lab with its lead weights, not to mention lead in water, air, paint, and calcium pills, all had a cumulative effect on staff, and that it could be controlled or minimized by using the right kind of vacuum cleaner in the lab.

The 12 features covered make up the headings in his table. For each brand and model, he provides figures on

cubic ft/min. tank size wet/dry
distributors weight motor (hp)
# filter stages price/comments manual
filter efficiency (%/microns)    

Prices varied from $230 to $1695. Names and addresses of 16 dealers are listed separately. The Rainbow, a widely advertised wet vacuum cleaner, was not included. Chris himself bought a Nilfisk GS90, though he was also impressed by the WAP SQ10. The Nilfisk GS80, he says, is the museum standard for HEPA vacuums and is also a wonderful machine.

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The ACRL/RBMS "Guidelines for the Security of Rare Book, Manuscript, and Other Special Collections" is posted on the internet at <http://www.princeton.edu/~ferguson/secguide.html>. It is not a skimpy list of do's and don'ts. When printed out in 6 pt. type, it fills four pages.

The abstract says, "In a climate where theft of special collections materials is an everyday possibility, security must be a major concern of the entire library and special collections communities, with special collections administrators addressing it to the best of their abilities within their institutional context.

"The ACRL/RBMS Security Committee's Guidelines for the Security of Rare Book, Manuscript, and Other Special Collections, published here, is the principal ACRL document dealing with the security of library materials. These guidelines identify important topics that collection administrators should address in developing adequate collection security. While directed primarily toward rare books, special collections, and manuscripts, the topics are also applicable to general collections. The RBMS Security Committee strongly urges implementation of these guidelines, including the unique identification marking of materials and the appointment of a Library Security Officer."

Section headings are: The library security officer, the security policy, the special collections building or area, the staff, the researchers, the collections, transfers from the general collection, and legal and procedural responsibilities. Most of these sections have guidelines for implementation. Appendix I, "Guidelines for Marking Books, Manuscripts and other Special Collections Materials," has six general recommendations, a discussion section and a list of other considerations.

Appendix II gives 11 addresses for reporting thefts; and Appendix III lists six related guidelines.

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Quinio, International Journal on the History and Conservation of the Book, is a new journal that will be issued twice a year from the Istituto centrale per la patologia del libro in Rome (fax: +39 06 481 4968; e-mail: patlib@tin.it).

"Quinio" means "quire," a name chosen to symbolize the emphasis on structure and physical aspects of the book. The emphasis will be on preservation and history —medieval and modern—of the book. The editor will be Carlo Federici, and the 20-member editorial board will include Gerhard Banik, Paul Canart, Françoise Flieder, Mirjam Foot, Judith Hofenk de Graaff, Nicholas Pickwoad, Mariagrazia Plossi, Peter Tschudin and Nieves Valentin.

Annual subscriptions will be 51.6 Euros, or about $50 US, payable with credit cards (American Express, Diners club or Visa). ICPL is at via Milano 76, I-00184 Roma; tel. (+39) 06 482911; fax (+39) 06 4814968; e-mail patlib@tin.it.

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"Removal of Pressure-Sensitive Tape and Tape Stains," a report by Ann Spreadbury. Paper Conservation News #92, Dec. 1999, pp. 91-92.

PCN often publishes long, knowledgeable reports of significant presentations at conferences and workshops. This presentation was a five-day workshop by Linda Stiber Morenus and Elissa O'Loughlin at the University of Northumbria in September.

It has only been 20 years since the use of pressure-sensitive tapes was advised against in the conservation literature. Today tapes are being manufactured especially for collectors and conservators. Filmoplast tapes were tested for water-removability during the workshop, but did not pass. The 3M tapes introduced recently are advertised in terms that strongly imply that they are archival (stable, non-damaging, removable), and the adhesive is water-soluble while it is new, but the product information sheet says they cannot be recommended for archival purposes.

Other topics covered were the historical types of adhesives used in tapes, and their components (Post-it Notes, for instance, have an acrylic adhesive that is cross-linked with zinc. This adhesive increases in strength over time, just as other acrylic adhesives do); stages in degradation; theories of adhesion; removal techniques for both the carrier and the adhesive residue; safe solvent mixtures; determining solvent parameters; difficult materials; poultices; and removal of adhesive stains and tidelines.

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"Rice Paper Caper," by Ken Grabowski. Hand Papermaking, v. 9 #1, Summer 1994, p. 18-22.

The author is known as a person who likes to get to the bottom of mysteries, apparent contradictions, and any question for which there appears to be no answer. In this article, he tackles the question of rice paper: Is it something you eat? Is it just Japanese paper? Is it made from something called the "rice paper plant"? What are all the substances that have been called rice paper? Actually, he says (speaking as Sherlock Holmes, explaining to Dr. Watson), the term has been applied to all these concepts, and more. True rice paper, he says, is paper made from rice straw (Oryza sativa), just as Mathias Koops said about 150 years ago, but the dictionaries were slow to catch on. New meanings were invented and adopted as time went by, and the whole situation would be hopeless by now if we didn't have the author's four-cell table of "Categories of Rice Paper," summarized below:

RICE NOT RICE
1. PAPER: rice paper (rice straw paper made from grass fiber of rice plant) 2. PAPER: "rice" paper (Japanese paper made from bast fiber of kozo plant)
3. NOT PAPER: rice "paper" (springroll skin made from grain of rice plant) 4. NOT PAPER: "rice paper" (Chinese rice paper made from pith of chinese rice-paper shrub/tree; or edible rice paper made from tuber starch of potato plant)

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"Victorian Album Structures," by Jane Rutherston. Paper Conservator, v. 23, 1999, p. 13-25.

This article began life as part of a thesis submitted for the Master of Arts in Conservation. It is well researched, with footnotes; diagrams of gatherings, guards, stubs and endpapers; photographs of carte-de-visite albums; and a chronology (1820s to 1890) of events relevant to development of Victorian album structures.

Not all albums held photographs; most were used for a variety of other purposes, e.g. scrapbooks, stamp albums, post card albums, and "commonplace books." In fact, for a while the author even considered omitting photograph albums altogether, because they had been so well covered elsewhere

Until the manufacture of albums became commercialized in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the materials and structure of albums were sound, and they have lasted well. Case binding of these heavy structures, use of adhesives or staples instead of sewing, and use of poor quality paper and cloth gave them a short life and made them hard for conservators of today to repair.

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