The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 26, Number 2
Aug 2002


Literature

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AIC News for July 2002 has published a page of conservation websites that conservators at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston have found useful.

The "General" section is longest, because it includes websites of almost 40 conservation organizations. "Paper and Photography" has seven sites, including that of Wilhelm Imaging Research. "Disaster Preparedness/Health and Safety" and "Preventive Conservation" have eight sites between them.

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A Conservation Dictionary has been completed, financed by the European Commission. Institutional partners in Athens, Manchester, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Vantaa [Finland] carried out the project. The Dictionary contains around 3000 terms and definitions in English, Dutch, French, Italian, German, Greek, and Hungarian.

This multilingual dictionary of conservation/ restoration terminology will be published in printed and digital format. Copies will be sent without charge, except for the price of postage and handling, to institutions willing to examine the product and send their comments on any aspect. Contact Dr. Vasilike Argyropoulos, Project Manager, Dept. of Conservation of Antiquities and Works of Art, T.E.I. of Athens, Greece, bessie@teiath.gr.

[This information is from PapierRestaurierung, v.3 (2002), No. 2.]

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Presentation Abstracts, IAP Copenhagen 2001, 4th Meeting of the Indoor Air Pollution Working Group, National Museum of Denmark, Conservation Dept., Nov. 8-9, 2001.

These abstracts can be downloaded from the Internet in Adobe PDF format: http://iaq.dk/iap/iap2001/iap2001.pdf.

Two papers sound interesting just from their titles:

"The ventilation of enclosures to reduce internally generated pollutants and simple techniques to measure air exchange rates within enclosures: Report on progress to date" - Andrew Calver.

"Recent improvements in SPME-GC/MS detection of acetic and formic acid in air" - Jens Glastrup and Morten Ryhl-Svendsen.

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The Storage of Art on Paper: A Basic Guide for Institutions, by Sherelyn Ogden. University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science: Urbana-Champaign, 2001. Occasional Paper 210. Softcover, ISBN 0-87845-119-6. 30 pp., $8 from publisher at 501 E. Daniel Street, Champaign, IL 61820.

Reviewed by Thea Burns in JAIC 41, pp. 91-93, who found it vague or incomplete when it dealt with important aspects of the care of art; it appears to be merely a reworking of NEDCC's online Technical Leaflets 4.1, 4.2, and 4.4. At least, she says in her review, references to more complete and technical sources could have given readers access to the information that was glossed over or omitted from the text, information that is essential when caring for works of art, such as the need to monitor the performance of UV filters as they age, and the need to put all chromogenic color prints in cold storage, even if they are frequently consulted.

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Preservation of Library and Archival Materials, A Manual, edited by Sherelyn Ogden. 3rd ed. NEDCC, 1999. 400+ pp. ISBN 0-963-46855-2-9. $55.

Hilary A. Kaplan's review appeared originally in JAIC 40 [3], 277-285, but was condensed for publication in v.3 #1, 2001, of PapierRestaurierung.

Kaplan agrees with some of the points raised by Thea Burns in JAIC (inconsistent identification of the intended audience - that is, whether it is a professional one or not - and vague, incomplete instructions). Kaplan also points out a few not mentioned by her: giving little or no information about the AIC as a source of advice and information, but instead promoting NEDCC's role; ignoring the differences between libraries and archives, as if the same advice and functions fit both equally well; and failing to distinguish between the "truly essential" and the "more ineffectual" reference sources.

In all fairness, we cannot blame Sherelyn Ogden for all the book's faults; she served only as editor of material written by others. But the job of turning a very large book from a collection of leaflets into a coherent, reliable manual should have been attempted only with a clear mandate and adequate support. Even if she had been offered these advantages, the job of turning leaflets into a manual might have been overwhelming.

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International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation, Oct. and Dec. 2000 (v.46 nos. 3 and 4) carry the papers from the International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation Symposium in Arlington, Va., Aug. 1999. The only way to see them is to go to a library that subscribes, if they allow access to the stacks, because the papers are not on the Internet for nonsubscribers to read. The publisher is Elsevier, whose IBB subscriptions cost over $1,000 a year.

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ASTM Standards on Indoor Air Quality, 2nd ed., 2002. Soft cover; $89 North America; $98 elsewhere.

Contains 33 standards. Order from ASTM International, 100 Barr Harbor Dr., W. Conshohocken, Pa. 19428 (610/832-9585; fax: 610/832-9555; e-mail: service@astm.org; website: http://www.astm.org/).

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"A History of Encasements: Technology Preserving the Charters of Freedom," a conference originally scheduled for September 2001, was rescheduled and actually took place April 23, 2002 at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Md. The program and the list of attendees can be obtained if you know who to ask, but NIST is not very good at making information publicly available, because their mission is to do research for the government, not to serve the information needs of the public.

However, vol. 36 #2 of AATA has the abstract of a big story on these documents that ran in the New York Times September 12: "New Homes for the 'Charters of 'Freedom,'" by Warren E. Leary. It describes the documents and the airtight cases that protect them, which can be opened and resealed, and which are filled with argon gas at a relative humidity of 40%. The iron-gall ink will be examined for flaking, the article says, and reattached with collagen glue.

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The Evidence in Hand: Report of the Task Force on the Artifact in Library Collections. Washington, DC, Council on Library and Information Resources, Nov. 2001. Stephen G. Nichols, Chair of the Task Force; Abby Smith, Director of Programs at CLIR. 114 pp. Soft cover. $20 per copy through CLIR's website, http://www.clir.org.

Kathlin Smith's cover letter was enclosed in this book, which we received over a year and a half ago. It summarizes the report eloquently:

"The Evidence in Hand: Report of the Task Force on the Artifact in Library Collections addresses a critical problem facing libraries and archives today. Paradoxically, at a time when more material is made available virtually—online—there is a growing demand for access to original materials for scholarly use. Yet libraries and archives have never had enough funds to collect and preserve everything of potential research value. Librarians and archivists must make difficult decisions about how much and what can be acquired, preserved, and made accessible in meaningful ways. Yet with the proliferation of information in numerous formats, the complexity and potential cost of keeping materials fit for scholarly use grows each day.

"The report conveys the findings and recommendations of a task force of scholars, librarians, and archivists formed in 1999 to consider this problem. In five sections, the report presents the central questions and their implications; a discussion of the term 'artifact'; an examination of the problems associated with particular media, from print and paper to audiovisual and digital; five case studies; and a summary and recommendations."

In this context, artifacts are defined as "original, unreformatted materials."

The Task Force, which was made up mostly of professors and academic administrators, included Henry Petroski, who wrote the history of the pencil. It was chaired by Stephen G. Nichols of Johns Hopkins University. Members were asked to articulate a framework for making or evaluating institutional policies for the retention of archival or unpublished materials in their original form, as well as published materials.

The publisher's news release notes that there are five case studies in the report: The Five-College Library Depository (in New England), The Emperor Jones (restoration of a movie in order to save it), JSTOR (a journal-archiving database), The Rossetti Archive (a comprehensive database of text and images by Dante Gabriel Rossetti), and the AFS-AFC folklore project, which will look into the difficulties inherent in collection and preservation of recorded sound.

There are seven useful appendices:

  1. Current Library Practices in Collection Development and Preservation
  2. Charge to the Task Force
  3. Selection for Preservation Criteria from RLG, Cornell, and Harvard
  4. Expenditure Trends in ARL Libraries, 1986-2000
  5. Non-print Holdings in ARL University Libraries
  6. Comparative Costs for Book Treatments
  7. National Recording Preservation Act of 2000

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"Position Paper on Conservation and Preservation in Collecting Institutions," by the American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works, is a two-page statement distributed to AIC members in June 2002. It has the potential to be quite effective in encouraging consensus on major (and minor) points of good preservation practice in libraries, archives and museums. The first page explains the significance of conservation and preservation as the core of the institution's reason for being. The second page answers two questions: 1. How does an institution demonstrate preservation awareness and well-integrated policies? and 2. How does preservation awareness influence activities within an institution?

The answers to that first question include all the ways awareness and well-integrated policies can be demonstrated, e.g., "The incorporation of conservation issues and concerns into ongoing institution-wide planning and decision-making processes, as well as expansion and new construction plans. This should be accomplished in consultation with conservation professionals."

The position paper will soon be on the AIC web site, http://aic.stanford.edu/.

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Contributions to Conservation Science: A Collection of Robert Feller's Published Studies on Artists' Paints, Paper, and Varnishes. Edited by Paul M. Whitmore; commentaries by Robert Feller. Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2002. 665 pp. ISBN 0-88748-374-7. Distributed by Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY (607/277-2211). (Note: The book will be listed under Feller, not Whitmore.) $49.98.

The book is beautifully produced. The paper is alkaline, cream-colored, and smooth; the book lies open for the reader; the typeface is clear and easy to read; and the text is well arranged and indexed. (There is even a separate index to "Three Fundamental Aspects of Cellulose Deterioration," by Feller, Lee and Curran, which was published in an AATA supplement 17 years ago.)

A Robert Feller bibliography, arranged by date from 1951 to 1997, is on pp. 647-658. Only those publications of his that were judged to be of greatest value were chosen for inclusion in the book, especially if they were also hard to find or out of print. An effort was also made to show the breadth of his interest as well as the depth of his research.

He began work at the Mellon Institute in Pittsburgh in 1950, and spent his entire professional life heading the research group there, first at the Institute, and 25 years later, at the Research Center on the Materials of the Artist and Conservator when it was founded. He retired 14 years ago, but has remained active, contributing fundamental, influential research.

The book has nine sections:

Traditional Varnishes: Dammar and Mastic
Deteriorating Effects of Light
Light-Induced Color Changes of Pigments
Pigment Volume Concentration and Chalking
Polymers
Paper Degradation
Paper Darkening and Bleaching
Overviews

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The International Institute for Conservation met in Baltimore in September 2002, for its 19th international congress. Some of the 45 or so papers scheduled to be given there are listed below:

Explorations of the role of humidity fluctuations in the deterioration of paper - John Bogaard & Paul Whitmore
Using microfocus X-radiography and other techniques to create a digital watermark database - Jean Brown & Richard Mulholland
'A serious and universal evil': The early scientific study of paper deterioration - Thea Burns
The rate of washing paper - Vincent Daniels & Joanna Kosek
The role of gelatine/alum sizing in the degradation of paper: A study by size exclusion chromatography in lithium chloride/N,N-dimethylacetamide using multiangle light scattering detection - Anne-Laurence Dupont
A new method for paper deacidification based on calcium hydroxide dispersed in nonaqueous media - Rodorico Giorgi et al.
Going, going, gone—who bids the highest conservation output for archives and libraries? - Anna Haberditzl
Insertion-accelerated aging test of paper for conservation: increase in discoloration of acid and alkaline paper interface - Masamitsu Inaba et al.
The Archimedes Palimpsest: conservation treatment, digital imaging and transcription of a rare medieval manuscript - Abigail Quandt (Jane Down and others have a paper on the analysis of this same manuscript.)
Spontaneous formation of acids in the natural aging of paper - Chandru Shahani & Gabrielle Harrison . (Shahani and 6 co-authors also had a poster on "A new accelerated aging test for comparing the permanence of different papers".)

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ICCROM has improved its web site. They described the changes made and appended a note about scheduling of events:

"ICCROM are pleased to announce the launch of their redesigned website (http://www.iccrom.org). The re-design is the result of collaboration between the EVTEK Institute of Art and Design in Finland and ICCROM staff and consultants. As before, the site contains up-to-date coverage of ICCROM's current programs, events, courses and visitors, and a link to the ICCROM library catalog and four current databases: the training directory, the conference directory, the directory of periodicals, and the image archive.

"New features include a downloadable version of the ICCROM Newsletter (PDF format). Two more databases will soon be available: a comprehensive list of conservation website links, and a publications database that offers a search function for ICCROM publications on sale. Also, for the first time on the ICCROM site, there is a site-wide search function from each page. Simply type in a topic and the related pages will appear."

Now that ICCROM's comprehensive conference directory is available on the Internet, it will be possible to avoid scheduling conflicts. Andrew Oddy wrote to the IIC Bulletin about this, saying:

"Conferences on conservation are proliferating—in September 2001 there were three during the same week in different countries. To avoid a clash of dates, conference organizers are encouraged to consult the ICCROM Conference Directory database before fixing dates for meetings."

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art hosted "Art, Biology, and Conservation 2002: Biodeterioration of Works of Art" June 13-15 in New York City. Below are some of the papers presented:

Collateral Damage: Anthrax, Gas, and Radiation - David Erhardt, et al.
Microbiologically-caused foxing on paper: 25 years of studies - Hideo Arai
Studies of fungal infestations of Tiffany's drawings: limits and advantages of classical and molecular techniques - Maria Pia Di Bonaventura, et al.
Enzyme treatments for fungal stain removal on paper - Fernando Nieto-Fernandez, et al.
Fungi and paper - Hanna Szczepanowska
Conservator as product developer - Norman Weiss
Detection of life in art and discussion of anoxia eradication of insects and fungi - Frank Pohleven et al.
Results of a novel germicidal lamp system for reduction of airborne microbial spores in museum collections - Harold W. Rossmore et al.
Deterioration and conservation issues associated with Antarctica's historic huts - Benjamin W. Held, et al.

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Some papers given at the ICOM Meeting in 2002, in Rio de Janeiro:

The effect of iron gall ink on the discoloration of lead white - A. Derbyshire et al.
Deacidification without equipment and money—dream or reality? - Josef Hanus et al.
The influence of paper based filing enclosures containing alkaline loadings on pH-sensitive works of graphic art and photographs - Roland Damm and Gerhard Banik
New sources of cellulose for the production of paper to be employed in conservation and restoration - Clara Landim Fritoli
Application of the Albertina poultice for lining removal from water-sensitive Japanese woodblock prints - Regina Schneller et al.

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"Emission of volatile organic compounds from paper objects affected with iron-gall ink corrosion," by John Havermans et al., Preprints of ICOM's 12th triennial meeting, Sept. 1999. Pp. 513-516. [English]

The emission of VOCs during artificial aging was measured by using a static headspace sampling technique and gas chromatograph/mass spectrometric analysis. The main volatile organic compounds formed were identified as formic acid, acetic acid, and furan derivatives. The rate of formation of these compounds was seen to be greatly accelerated by the catalytic action of iron in the ink.

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"Experiments in Deaccessioning: Archives and Online Auctions," by Michael Doylen. American Archivist, v.64 (Fall/Winter 2001, p. 350-362).

Archival materials of unknown origin are already appearing in online auctions, where they may be sold for commercial uses. The author explores the legal, ethical, and practical issues that come up when archives use online auction sites to deaccession unwanted material. He suggests that archivists should prepare a response to individuals considering selling records or manuscripts online or elsewhere, emphasizing the benefits of donation to an institution where they will be preserved and utilized.

Deaccessioning was accepted as legitimate collection management activity in the early 1980s, but selling was not practical as an option until online auction sites appeared in the mid-1990s. Its appropriateness depends on several factors, among them: the ethics of the sale, including the impact that selling will have on public access to the material or the information it conveys; the legal probity of the sale according to donor agreements, and state and federal laws; the political consequences of the sale for the archives and its parent institution; and the financial cost of the sale versus its benefits.

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