The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 26, Number 5
Jul 2003



"The National Training Audit & Thoughts on the Future of Conservation." AICCM National Newsletter No. 87, June 2003, p. 17-18.

This is a report on a survey of 94 public and private Australian institutions in early 2003, to see how they were reacting to the closure of their country's only conservation training center. Colin Pearson's paper examined areas that have an impact on training: specializations involving trade skills (or para-professionals) and the level to which they need to be included in conservation training courses; conservation technicians' training; conservation management and small business skills; exhibitions; collection management; information technology; and ways to quantify and meet the current and future need for specialized professional development courses.


The National Preservation Office, which is supported by the British Library and nine other collections-holding institutions in the British Isles, publishes the NPO Journal, a first-rate source of preservation information, which will be made available to readers without charge, starting next April, on the BL's web page. It will probably be linked to <>, or to the site that lists on three pages of fine print all the NPO's publications, <>.


Effects of Light on Materials in Collections: Data on Photoflash and Related Sources, by Terry T. Schaeffer. Getty Conservation Institute, Sept. 2001. 170 pages. ISBN: 0-89236-645-1. $30.

This volume started out as a guide to setting conditions and policy regarding the use of flashlamps in museums. However, it also appeared to be useful as "a broad-based resource on light exposure of works of art and archival objects.... The resulting publication is designed for museum personnel charged with devising general as well as specifically photographic light-exposure policies."

Technical aspects (e.g., light sources) are explained in Chapter 1. Chapter 2 summarizes the results of the literature search (e.g., for colorants, natural fibers, pulp, paper and wood; fluorescent whitening agents; and photographic and reprographic materials. Chapter 3 gives technical details on these same topics. There are 29 pages of references and a 13-page index.


"Chemical Aspects of the Bookkeeper Deacidification of Cellulosic Materials: The Influence of Surfactants," by S. Zumbühl and S. Wuelfert. Studies in Conservation 46 (2002) 169-180.

"Despite its widespread use in paper deacidification, neither the exact composition of the Bookkeeper reagent nor its time-dependent chemistry are known in sufficient detail. For this reason, our laboratory characterized Bookkeeper reagents by X-ray fluorescence spectrometry and polarized light microscopy. The results clearly show that the fluorinated dispersants contained in the reagent have a decisive influence on the reaction kinetics and probably also on the chemical species forming the alkaline reserve." -Summary


Safeguarding our Documentary Heritage is a CD-ROM produced by IFLA (the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions), with help from the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, in the framework of the UNESCO "Memory of the World" Program. It can be read with Macintosh or Windows computers, with software downloadable from the disk. A booklet issued with the disk gives the table of contents: Environment and storage; Disaster planning; Graphic documents; Photographic documents and films; Mechanical carriers; Magnetic carriers; Optical carriers; and Electronic publications, electronic documents and virtual information. It also has a glossary, website directory and addresses.

The text is in both French and English, and it is very well illustrated, which should help promote awareness among newly recruited personnel, staff, management, and the public. It can be ordered from IFLA PAC <> or <>.


"Development of Humidity Recommendations in Museums and Moisture Control in Buildings," by Jonathan P. Brown and William B. Rose. APT Bulletin, 27/3 (1996), 12-24. Revised and expanded version 1997 <url:>. The printout of the online version fills 27 pages and has a 79-item bibliography.

The authors write clearly and they understand the many aspects of humidity control on objects and in buildings, including the effect of extreme climates. They review the recommendations made over the last 80 years and point out the conflict between humidity specifications for objects and the buildings they are in, especially in cold climates. They cover the performance of early museum buildings, developments in museum practice during the 1930s and 1940s, the spread of air conditioning, the origins of insulation and vapor barriers for moisture control, and recent developments like variable air volume, control of moisture in the building envelope, and humidity levels for organic collections in museums.

They conclude that work done at the Smithsonian lab and at CCI "suggests the following broad picture for organic artifacts acclimated to mid-range humidity: Variation of RH of ±10% RH (whether daily, weekly, monthly or yearly) about a central level between 45 and 55% RH presents a low risk of mechanical damage for almost all organic objects (including paintings and furniture).... Variation ±40% RH about a central level is destructive to most organic objects if the extreme levels are maintained long enough for the object to react."

The authors also give their conclusions on instrumental measurement in preservation, environment for buildings, and technology of humidity and moisture control. They conclude by saying, "The forthcoming ASHRAE Fundamentals chapter on Museums & Art Galleries is being totally revised and it is hoped that the new form of the chapter will provide clear guidance to both conservators and mechanical designers."


"Air Conditioning Small Tropical Museums: A Technical Note," by Steve King, Vinod Daniel and Colin Pearson. AICCM Bulletin, v. 25, 2000, p. 33-36.

Conclusions: "At the Djomi Museum, a potentially intractable external climate is significantly modified by a combination of passive environmental control strategies. It is further modified by some active air conditioning, but the benefits of that further modification are debatable.... This small museum in the tropics, operating in a relatively 'passive' mode, experiences virtually no combination of conditions likely to lead to major problems with mold. When the air conditioning is operational, it experiences slightly greater variability of all internal conditions, but most importantly, has internal humidities consistently in a range considered at risk of mold infestation...."


ASTM Paper Aging Research Program (CD-ROM, 2003; ©2002). Available for $10.00 in North America or $13.00 for foreign orders; prices include shipping. Contact ASTM International, Customer Service Dept., 100 Barr Harbor Dr., West Conshohocken, PA 19482-2959 (610-832-9585; fax 610-832-9555; e-mail: The report's formal reference number is Research Report (RR#) D06-1006.

Three representatives of cultural institutions acted as technical advisors as the research work went on: Susan Lee-Bechtold of NARA, Margaret Byrnes of the National Library of Medicine, and Janet Gertz of Columbia University.

Five research labs in three countries (U.S., Canada and Finland) were chosen to conduct accelerated aging research: the Canadian Conservation Institute and the Library of Congress Preservation and Research Testing Division (heat aging); the Finnish Pulp and Paper Research Institute and the USDA Forest Products Laboratory (aging with light); and the Image Permanence Institute (pollutant gases). The papers used for the work were all made for the purpose, and included 15 types: acid and alkaline, hardwood and softwood, kraft and groundwood, cotton, BCTMP and so on.

Each lab's report is included in this disk. The reports themselves are well written and organized, but the disk is hard to use as a reference work because the pages are not consecutively numbered, except within each report; the reports do not have running heads or report numbers on each page; and the disk has a table of contents that does not provide page numbers.

ASTM has the copyright to the reports, and forbids any copying of the text. This means that each reader will have to read the text while sitting in front of a computer. This will severely limit the number of readers and their understanding of the new and valuable research findings within these reports. There are no plans to publish it on paper, because of the cost. ASTM had to publish it as a compact disk because it is so long, and there was not enough money left to publish it in book form.

This group of reports will revolutionize our understanding of paper deterioration and permanence—but how long this takes will depend on how quickly the publication can be put into a more useful format.


The proceedings of ICOM-CC's 13th triennial meeting can be purchased from ICCROM, while supplies last. For information, contact Gianna Paganelli Putt, Library Assistant, Supervisor/Sale of Pubs., ICCROM, Via di San Michele, 13; 00153 ROMA/ITALY (fax: +39 0658 553 349; e-mail:

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