Mass Deacidification Reports Issued by the Library of Congress

December 1994

Over the past two years, the Library of Congress continued its commitment to enhance and encourage the development of mass deacidification technologies through a two-part Action Plan that was approved by Congress. Under Phase A of the plan, the Library pursued refinement of the diethyl zinc (DEZ) process. Phase B permitted the Library to offer a program of evaluation and testing to other promising deacidification technologies; under this provision, Preservation Technologies, Inc. (PTI) of Pittsburgh asked the Library to evaluate its Bookkeeper deacidification process. The first 30+ pages of separate reports on these two processes are reproduced following this announcement. Paperbound copies of either report (including all of the appendices not reproduced on Internet) can be obtained from Kenneth Harris in the Preservation Directorate at the address given below.

With the DEZ process, the Library conducted a series of planned test runs in the Akzo Chemicals deacidification plant in Texas and succeeded in eliminating process-related problems that were experienced earlier with the DEZ technology. However, we note with disappointment that Akzo Chemicals withdrew from the deacidification business this past spring and terminated its DEZ license with the U.S. Commerce Department effective in September 1994. The Library has not requested Congressional support at this time for a DEZ initiative because of projected high DEZ capitalization costs and because of encouraging developments with the Bookkeeper process, which affords lower capitalization costs along with other attractive features.

Under the second phase of the Library's Action Plan, as indicated above, a Library-appointed evaluation team studied the Bookkeeper deacidification process. An earlier generation of PTI equipment, known as "Bookkeeper II," was being used by PTI when the Library's evaluation team initiated its examination of the Bookkeeper process over a year ago. Based upon results obtained with that earlier Bookkeeper equipment, the evaluation team concluded that the Bookkeeper process demonstrates the potential for meeting the Library's technical requirements for mass deacidification. The group indicated further that the process already meets many of the Library's specifications. The technical team also recommended that the Library work with PTI to enhance the Bookkeeper process.

While the evaluation team was drafting its observations about the results achieved by Bookkeeper processing and about subsequent accelerated aging and independent lab testing of materials treated with Bookkeeper II equipment, PTI and the Library pursued two important, complementary activities:

In light of treatment results obtained with the Bookkeeper process, the Library presented Congress in December 1994 with a second deacidification Action Plan, consisting of two phases that will run concurrently for two years (1995-97), if the plan receives Congressional approval.

Phase A:
A brief process enhancement initiative with the Bookkeeper process to be followed by a limited production effort. Over a two year period, this demonstration contract would result in treating 72,000 books. The focus will be on achieving an improved product at lower cost. Since the Bookkeeper process does not impart odors or cause physical damages to treated materials, we expect to make rapid progress with process enhancement. We anticipate that most of this effort will be devoted to the limited production initiative, resulting in deacidification of actual books from the Library's permanent collections.
Phase B:
The goal of this phase of the Action Plan, with guidelines to be announced in the Commerce Business Daily, is to encourage and evaluate other technologies that can demonstrate a potential to meet or exceed the Library's deacidification requirements (complete deacidification, adequate alkaline reserve, an increase in the life of paper by at least three times its normal expectancy) without damage to collections. The Library is also hopeful that, during this phase, a U.S.-based company will recognize the potential for commercialization of the DEZ technology and develop a facility for deacidifying books through this process.

The Library's proposed two year plan reflects our determination to support the active development of mass deacidification technologies. We remain hopeful that our dedication to this effort, combined with mutual involvement by other like-minded institutions, will result in fulfilling the continuing interest of the library and archival communities in resolving one of our most pressing preservation challenges.

Please feel free to contact one of the persons listed below if you desire further information or if you would like to discuss the enclosed reports or the Library's proposed deacidification Action Plan.

Kenneth E. Harris
Preservation Projects Director
Preservation Directorate Office
Library of Congress, LM-G21
Washington, D.C. 20540-4500
Telephone: (202) 707-1054
Fax: (202) 707-3434 Internet: KHAR@LOC.GOV
Chandru J. Shahani
Preservation Research Officer
Preservation Research & Testing Off.
Library of Congress, LM-G38
Washington, D.C. 20540-4560
Telephone: (202) 707-1028
Fax: (202) 707-1525 Internet: CSHA@LOC.GOV

*** Last Update 1/20/95 (efm) ***

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