The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 24, Number 4
Dec 2000


Relative Costs for Three Preservation Modes

by David Walls

Gay Walker's 1985 preservation survey of Yale University's Sterling Memorial Library showed that as much as 50% of the collection could be brittle or in danger of becoming brittle within a relatively short period of time. This survey was a call to action and resulted in Yale's active participation in consecutive microfilming grants. Over the last twelve years alone, grant projects and Yale's own use-based microfilming program have preserved more than 60,000 books on film.

During these same twelve years though, Yale was adding nearly 150,000 volumes each year to the Sterling Library collection. While Yale collects most of the significant scholarly monographs and journals published in North America and Europe, more than 65% of the new titles selected for the SML collection are published in areas of the world where alkaline paper is virtually unknown. It is likely than that more than 97,000 acidic volumes are entering the SML collection each year.

Examining the cost per volume of the available reformatting and treatment options makes a sobering case for mass deacidification treatment. Our microfilming costs an average of $120 per volume. Scanning costs, using Cornell's model, are approximately $80 per volume; however, this is for digital reformatting only and does not include future costs of refreshing or migration. Our cost for mass deacidification or mass alkaline treatment using Preservation Technology's Bookkeeper III process is approximately $17 per volume.

Yale has chosen to begin a deacidification effort targeting newly published acquisitions printed on acidic paper. Treating even a fraction of the 97,000 potentially acidic volumes entering the collection each year reduces the need for expensive microfilming in the future.

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