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CPA Newsletter #99, May 1997

Commission on Preservation and Access

The Commission on Preservation and Access


May 1997

Number 99

Catalog Available

The Commission’s updated 1997 Catalog of Publications in Print is available. The 10-page catalog provides abstracts of all reports that can be ordered in paper format. To obtain a copy, send your request to Alex Mathews at the Commission address; or e-mail, If writing, please include a self-addressed label. If contacting by e-mail, please include your full mailing address.

When publications are out-of-print, they are available in microfilm from ERIC, the Educational Resources Information Center, and on the Commission’s Web site.

Choosing to Preserve ECPA Issues Volume from International Conference


he European Commission on Preservation and Access (ECPA) announces the publication of papers from the March 1996 international conference organized jointly by the ECPA and Die Deutsche Bibliothek Leipzig/Frankfurt am Main. The title of the conference and volume, Choosing to Preserve, calls attention to the deliberate action institutions and government agencies will have to take to ensure long-term access to the printed and written materials in archives and libraries.

In the volume, experts from nine European countries and the U.S. present their views on preservation and outline policies, problems, and practices in their countries and institutions. Although the papers describe a variety of approaches, they illustrate that, in spite of the differences between countries and institutions, many shared problems can be addressed through concerted action.

The importance of long-term access to older materials for academic research was brought out vividly in the keynote speech by a representative from the scholarly world, Professor Bernhard Fabian. His contribution is printed as the first of the longer papers and provides a framework for discussion of preservation in terms of access and use. Of the 18 papers, three are in German and the remainder in English.

The Commission is making a limited number of copies of the volume available outside Europe for $20.00, with prepayment by check (payable to the Commission on Preservation and Access) required. Readers in Europe who wish to obtain a copy should contact the ECPA (fax +31 20 620 4941; e-mail 


Preservation Science Research Update

T he Preservation Science Research update from the National Library of Canada beginning on page three was prepared especially for readers of this newsletter. It provides some of the most recent scientific findings from Canada and elsewhere concerning the longevity of papers housed in library and archives collections. The permanence of paper has continued as a major interest of the Commission since its founding, when it worked with other organizations to obtain Congressional funding for the 20-year Brittle Books Program of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Most recently, the Commission’s Preservation Science Council has identified recycling and lignin content as an area of top priority, urging that laboratory results be interpreted, applied, and communicated so as to benefit the decision-making of preservation administrators.

Digitizing Photo Collections


colloquium for the exchange of information among those actively involved in photograph digitizing projects, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Division of Preservation and Access and the Image Permanence Institute (IPI), will be held June 7-9, 1997, at IPI, Rochester (NY) Institute of Technology. Participants will discuss such questions as:

  • How will institutions use digital images?
  • What image quality is required?
  • Do we need standards? And, if so, who should define them?

The colloquium is part of a two-year NEH-sponsored project to investigate the key technical issues and problems of digital imaging for use in library and archive photographic collections. IPI’s project is examining the issue of image quality requirements and their relationship to institutional policies and purposes. Speakers and panelists will include managers of preservation and digitizing projects from libraries and archives, imaging consultants, and representatives of industry. Photohistorians are encouraged to attend, to bring a scholarly perspective to the discussions.

Contact Jane Pestke, Image Permanence Institute, (716) 475-5199.
Fax: (716) 475-7230

AAP Considers Preservation


reservation issues involving historical continuity, the permanence of archival media, the tagging of electronic data for accessibility, and the responsibilities of publishers for ensuring the long-term availability of information are discussed in a new report from the Association of American Publishers (AAP), Professional and Scholarly Publishing in the Digital Age. The 125-page “White Paper II” was developed and written by members of the AAP Professional/Scholarly Publishing Division’s Electronic Information Committee.

The report covers changing roles in publishing, user issues, business models/economics, publishing alternatives, and marketing and sales. Preservation is addressed at most length in a section on “Trends,” from which the following passages are taken:

There are many concerns about whether … a pragmatic inducement [for publishers] is enough to guarantee access for generations of scholars in the future. Some have questioned whether there is enough standardization of archival techniques among publishers…

Others have wondered whether or not a publisher facing bankruptcy, for example, would have the foresight or resources to transfer its archival files to a more stable institution without legislative mandates.

These are thorny questions of a social nature. Publishers alone will not resolve them, but the debate is one in which publishers have an important role.

Available from PSP Publications Department, 71 Fifth Ave., 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10003. Phone (212) 255-0200 for ordering information. 

The Web version of the Council on Library Resources publication PublicLibraries, Communities, and Technology. Twelve Case Studies is available on the CLR Web site: You can reach it through both the “What’s New” and the “Leadership Program” pages.
The Library of Congress National Digital Library Program (NDLP) has made available the full content of the RFP that supports all paper scanning activities within the program. It appears as part of the LC American Memory/NDLP web site at the Background Documents and Technical Reports page, under Technical Operations Documentation. URL:


The RFP is entitled “Digital Images from Original Documents, Text Conversion and SGML-Encoding” and is approximately 206 pages in length.

A Science Research Update from The National Library of Canada The Permanence of Paper

–by Jan Michaels, Preservation Policy and

Michaels is Project Coordinator, Permanent Paper Research Project: Impact of Lignin on Paper Permanence, and Chair of its management team. She is also a member of the ASTM/ISR Paper Research Advisory Committee, representing the Canadian Cooperative Heritage Research Project.


or the last two and a half years, Canadian researchers have undertaken an ambitious research project to examine paper permanence. Funded jointly by the Canadian and Alberta governments and the private sector, the researchers examined the effect of lignin on paper permanence in both benign and polluted environments.

This subject has been of primary concern for several years. The heritage sector, including libraries and archives, has long observed that lignin seemed to cause paper yellowing — and that both lignin and yellowing seemed to be connected to paper deterioration. Meanwhile, industry has carried out research, mostly physical tests, that indicates alkaline buffering may make even ligneous papers permanent. In other words, paper may yellow but may not be deteriorating at the same time. The implications of this research offer some hope. If paper simply needs to have a certain amount of alkaline buffer to be permanent, then most books now coming into libraries may indeed have long life expectancies, and we can concentrate preservation efforts toward the already-brittle books in our existing collections.

The research work of the “Permanent Paper Research Project: Impact of Lignin on Paper Permanence” is scheduled to finish soon. The project should provide well-documented results to facilitate discussion and decision-making concerning the lignin issue. The work is being carried out by scientists at the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) and the Pulp and Paper Research Institute of Canada (Paprican), and though much of the analysis has not been completed at the time of this writing, the research already has produced some notable results.

Broadly stated, the research can be divided into two parts. A comprehensive set of papers, including handsheets made from 6 pulp types and 10 commercial papers, was measured before and after accelerated aging (Phase 1). A second group of papers (composed of the same papers as the first set) was exposed to pollutants and then similarly aged (Phase 2). Results from the first phase of the tests are emerging as this article is written. They indicate that acidity is the most significant factor affecting the stability of paper during accelerated aging, and that buffering improves stability. There are indications that in benign environments lignin does not have a negative impact on the mechanical and chemical stability of paper. The results of Phase 2, polluted environments, are expected late this month.

There has been very strong collaboration throughout the project, demonstrated by sharing of expertise and skills. Scientists from the Paprican and CCI labs have noted that, as one of the largest joint projects conducted between industry and the heritage and arts community, the team effort has been marked by thoroughness, exact planning, and careful development of reliable procedures. The collaboration also has been apparent on the Management Team, where everyone pitched in their skills, knowledge, and effort to ensure that the project came to completion on time.

We are hopeful that this research work will indeed provide the scientific certitude that we have sought for the lignin issue. The library, archives, and fine art communities will still need to define acceptable yellowing to help in the standards development process, and this definition will likely vary by community. However, standards development has moved a step forward since the last round. As a result of free trade and GATT, standards being required are increasingly function-based, rather than content-based. For example, in past ANSI and ISO permanent paper standards, lignin or calcium carbonate could be specified to be included or excluded as components of permanent paper. In the future, standards need simply state that a paper behaving in a certain way can be deemed to be “permanent.”

  • How should permanent paper behave?
  • How can we avoid waiting 500 years to know, with hindsight, that a paper is long-lived?

We hope that the answers will lie in current research work being carried out for the Institute for Standards Research of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Among others, the National Library of Canada (NLC), the National Archives of Canada and the Department of Canadian Heritage participate on the ASTM steering committee through the NLC representative. Some research has already started:

  • The Image Permanence Institute, under James Reilly, is investigating the effects of atmospheric pollutants on paper aging. They are using sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and ozone as the pollutant gases at various exposures.
  • The Library of Congress, under the leadership of Dr. Chandru Shahani, is exploring accelerated paper aging through the use of elevated temperatures in the presence of a normal moisture content in paper. They are also studying degradation products that are created by aging. Evaluations are being made of both naturally and accelerated aged papers.
  • Aging in the presence of light is being investigated by the USDA Forest Products Laboratory, under Dr. Rajai Atalla. They are exploring the degree to which the processes of natural aging can be simulated by photoreactors as a possible means to accelerate aging reliably. Natural daylight, fluorescent light, and halogen light sources also are being used to create a database on the effects of natural-light aging processes on the control papers.

These projects will clearly help to develop new accelerated-aging test methods. But there are also additional aging questions that have yet to be resolved:

  • CCI is carrying out Arrhenius studies of the effects of temperature and humidity on paper in both single sheets and stacks. These studies began in April.
  • Several federal government heritage departments are participating in the ASTM work by sharing research results of the Canadian Cooperative Research Project into the Effects of Lignin, and providing straregic direction.

If funding is available:

  • The Finnish Pulp and Paper Research Institute will conduct a fundamental study of the effect of humidity on colour change in papers.
  • The Mechanical Pulps Network, part of the Network for the Centres of Excellence in Canada, will undertake fundamental physics and chemistry research associated with paper aging and degradation in areas that are not currently understood.

ASTM is trying to raise funds among a variety of corporate and institutional organizations. We are hopeful that we can complete this research, which we believe will answer fundamental questions concerning paper deterioration and permanence.

The National Library of Canada (NLC) is involved in an additional permanent-paper effort, with the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). IFLA is leading an initiative to promote the worldwide use of permanent paper. A draft resolution to UNESCO, asking that body to encourage its member states to promote the use of permanent paper in their respective territories and urging UNESCO to use permanent paper in its own publications, has been prepared.

Under the authority of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, NLC convened a meeting in October 1996 in Ottawa to finalize the draft resolution, and this draft resolution was approved at the 11th Session of the Intergovernmental Council of the Programme for General Information of UNESCO in November 1996. The resolution will be submitted formally to the UNESCO General Conference late in 1997. 

Commission on Preservation and Access
1400 16th Street, NW, Suite 740
Washington, DC 20036-2217
(202) 939-3400 Fax: (202) 939-3407

The Commission on Preservation and Access was established in 1986 to foster and support collaboration among libraries and allied organizations in order to ensure the preservation of the published and documentary record in all formats and to provide enhanced access to scholarly information.

The Newsletter reports on cooperative national and international preservation activities and is written primarily for university administrators and faculty, library and archives administrators, preservation specialists and administrators, and representatives of consortia, governmental bodies, and other groups sharing in the Commission’s goals. The Newsletter is not copyrighted; its duplication and distribution are encouraged.

Deanna B. Marcum–President
James M. Morris–Vice President
Maxine K. Sitts–Program Officer, Editor


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