CONTENTS. The Nature of Paper & Its Deterioration 3 Acidity & Brittleness of Paper 4

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2 CONTENTS The Nature of Paper & Its Deterioration 3 Acidity & Brittleness of Paper 4 The Environment 6 Temperature & Relative Humidity 6 Light 7 Biological Agents and Insects 8 People and Paper 9 The Nature of Preservation: Storage, Care and Handling 10 Good Housekeeping 10 Care and Handling 10 Storage: Folders and Boxes 12 Storage: Shelves 13 Conservation Treatment 14 When Disaster Strikes 16 Water 16 Mold & Mildew 17 Resources 19 Sources on Supplies 19 Local Resources 20 Web Sites 20 Selected Readings 21 is the infinity symbol for acid-free paper 1

3 Even as we are transitioning to an increasingly electronic environment, our lives are filled with paper. Most of us have saved documents and books over the years. Our treasures may be: photographs; letters and diaries; manuscripts; records of genealogical research; newspaper clippings and souvenir issues; business and legal documents; scrapbooks; posters; paper dolls, baseball cards, post cards, comic books, stamps and similar collectibles; children s drawings and school papers; old favorite volumes and books related to our hobbies and work; and large coffee-table tomes. While these materials may not have a large monetary value, they are invaluable to us as remembrances of our lives, work, vacations, family and friends. The older the volumes, the longer these paper materials are subject to varied and continued damages. But with a bit of care and proactive maintenance, it is possible to preserve these items so that you and your family can enjoy them today, tomorrow and into the future. This pamphlet focuses on proper care of family paper documents, including causes and types of damages, pro-active maintenance and storage, preparedness for and recovery from minor disasters, and an introduction to conservation treatment. 2

4 THE NATURE OF PAPER AND IT S DETERIORATION The deterioration of paper is caused by the nature of paper itself, the environment in which it is stored, and everyday use and abuse. Enemies of paper include acids, atmospheric pollutants, biological agents, natural and human-made disasters, and animal pests. Prior to the middle of the 19 th century, paper was mostly made from rags thus the term rag paper. As the demand for paper (and rags) grew and the paper-making process became more mechanized, chemicals were introduced to produce a cleaner, whiter paper and to give the paper a firmer surface to better take the printing and writing inks. Also at this time, paper mills switched to wood pulp as their primary raw material in place of rags. Neither the inherent impurities in the ground wood pulp nor the manufacturing chemicals were good for the longevity of paper, as they contributed to the break down of the paper fibers over time. While earlier rag paper usually remains in excellent condition, the paper produced since the late 19 th century is acidic, becoming yellow and brittle. With the switch to production of alkaline paper in the late 20 th century, many modern papers have a better chance to survive into the future. Writing and printing inks also contribute to the degradation of paper documents. On older documents, iron-gall writing ink is recognized by its characteristic brownish tones which may have faded over time or actually burned through the paper because of its high acid content. Various modern inks frequently contain dyes that fade rapidly when exposed to light, or bleed when they get wet and permanently stain the paper. While printing inks are usually more stable, they also may be sensitive to light and water. Paper may also absorb acidity from materials next to them. For example, a pressed flower or leaf inserted as a bookmark in a book will discolor the pages on both sides. 3

5 ACIDITY AND BRITTLENESS OF PAPER Paper is commonly designated either acid-free (alkaline) or acidic. Measurements are given based on a 14-point logarithmic ph scale with 7 as neutral, numbers less than 7 being acidic, and numbers over 7 as alkaline. Many acid-free papers are buffered to aid in protection against future acidification. PH testing pens are used to indicate whether the paper is generally acidic or alkaline. To use, make a small mark on the paper. If the dried mark stays purple, the paper is neutral or alkaline/acid-free. If the mark turns green or yellow, the paper is acidic. Since the mark leaves a permanent stain, the mark should be very small and in an unobtrusive part of the document. When buying a new book, check for the infinity symbol on the back of the title page. It is often accompanied with the written designation that the book was printed on acid-free paper. While all brittle paper is acidic, not all acidic paper is brittle, although it will become brittle eventually. Brittle paper is indicated by a yellow to brown discoloration, usually first noticeable around the margins, working its way to the center of the page. Over time the paper becomes more fragile, with pieces of paper breaking off. As the process continues, the pages may pop off from the book at the inner edge. Eventually the paper will break into little pieces (the potato chip effect). 4

6 Book has reached the potato chip stage The double fold test is used to determine if paper is brittle, but also causes permanent damage to the paper and should be used with caution. Fold a corner of the sheet of paper or page so as to form a dog ear and bend the paper corner back and forth twice along the fold. If the paper is brittle, the corner will break off after the double fold. Deacidification treatment is used to arrest the continuing effects of acidification. Paper is either sprayed or washed in a solution that neutralizes the acids by increasing the ph above 7% and by depositing an alkaline buffer that will protect it from the formation of acid in the future. However, deacidification will not reverse the damage that has already occurred. Because the sprays may change inks and colors, materials to be treated should be tested first to determine the risks. Spray deacidification products are available from vendors. 5

7 THE ENVIRONMENT The best protection for your materials includes a safe environment with moderate, steady temperature and relative humidity, good air circulation, controlled lighting, and no pests. General Collection Environmental Guidelines at a Glance Temperature 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit Relative Humidity 35 to 50% Light Light Under 200 LUX UV radiation under 75 LUX TEMPERATURE AND RELATIVE HUMIDITY Temperature and relative humidity (RH) have a direct relationship to the deterioration of paper documents. High temperatures speed up most chemical reactions. Relative humidity or RH is the measurement of air s capacity to hold moisture. A low relative humidity causes desiccation and embrittlement; very high relative humidity promotes mold growth and encourages insect infestations. Extreme daily and seasonal fluctuations of both temperature and relative humidity stress paper documents, as they expand and contract rapidly in response to the rapidly changing conditions. Preservation standards suggest that the environment for documents and books should range from 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit and between 35-50% relative humidity. In Colorado the outside environment rarely reaches 50% RH, but our high temperatures in the summer average in the 80s. Our winters are characterized with lower than 35% relative humidity with generally mild, but greatly varying, temperatures. 6

8 Although our air conditioned homes moderate our indoor temperatures and relative humidity and make generally good storage environment, we should make wise choices for locating and storing our paper documents and books. Look for storage locations where temperature and RH maintain steady levels within the recommended ranges: Interior dark closets and interior rooms make ideal sites. Make sure there is adequate air circulation around and behind shelves and other storage units. Avoid attics as they are too hot and dry. Avoid basements and crawlspaces as they are too damp and prone to flooding; if basements must be used, store. materials at least 6 inches off the floor. Avoid garages and commercial storage units for lack of environmental controls. Store materials away from the outside walls, overhead water pipes, and other sources of water. LIGHT Light is measured in terms of intensity (LUX) and exposure time. Damage from light is cumulative and nonreversible. Even if materials are removed from the light source, damages may continue. Light promotes the chemical reactions that degrade paper documents, including the dyes and inks. Although all light affects paper, ultraviolet (UV) light is particularly damaging. Commonly observed light damage is the fading of spines of books; the covers will remain the original color where it is protected by neighboring books. Although it is not usually possible to store materials in a continuously dark room, tips to prevent or lessen light damage, included: Avoid exposure to ultraviolet and natural light except when the materials are in use. Keep the drapes or shades closed 7

9 as much as possible. Ultraviolet filter shields are available for windows and light tubes. Do not continuously or permanently display photographs, paintings or paper documents. The often-used upper exposure limit is three months. Have materials framed to conservation standards, including museum quality mat board. Use a high-quality reproduction or one of several originals for display and keep one original safe in storage. BIOLOGICAL AGENTS AND INSECTS Biological agents is the term used for living organisms that destroy paper, including mold and mildew, insects, mice, and pets. Mold uses paper as a source of food; mice will shred paper to make a nest, and pets use books as toys. Good housekeeping and proper storage help prevent pest problems. Controlling environmental factors will decrease the chance of damage by these pests to your books and paper. Keep the environment less attractive; no creature will remain where there is no food and/or water source or shelter available. Insects fit into two categories: those who feed on books and those that seek shelter during certain parts of their life cycles. A bookworm is not a worm, but insect larvae which burrow through a book causing disfiguring tunnels and exit holes. Other common book loving insects include museum, deathwatch, and spider 8

10 beetles; booklice, house or clothes moths; cockroaches; and silverfish. With its dry climate, Colorado is not known for large insect populations. To be safe: Check your materials regularly as an early detection measure. If you find insects or evidence of their activity (small holes, carcasses, sandy or dark droppings) wrap the object in a plastic bag and clean up the environment removing all potential sources of food. Clean the materials out-of-doors. In case of a major infestation, contact a pest control company. Use insecticides after investigating ALL the alternatives. Do not allow chemicals to be applied directly to books, paper, or photographs. PEOPLE AND PAPER As we use the materials we treasure, we subject them to normal wear and tear. We also abuse or mutilate books, sometimes from ignorance and sometimes willfully. Crayon drawings, spilled beverage stains, dirty fingerprints, cut out pictures from photographs or books, and highlighting are a few examples of damage that can be prevented or lessened through careful handling. Leftover or spilled food and drink can damage and stain paper documents and provide a food source for insects and other pests. Smoke is an air pollutant that can cause discoloration of materials and leave a lingering odor. While it is not necessary to use gloves when handling materials, clean hands are a must. 9

11 THE NATURE OF PREVENTION: STORAGE, CARE AND HANDLING To maintain our paper documents and books in the best possible condition, we should always follow general housekeeping practices, including proper storage and careful handling. GOOD HOUSEKEEPING Make sure you practice good housekeeping: Schedule routine cleaning of storage areas, looking for the presence of any potential threat to your materials or new populations of pests. Also, check inside the storage boxes to spot any water or pest damage. Use a dust cloth or vacuum to clean the books and the book shelves. Check for dust or mold under and behind the shelf. When cleaning, hold the book tightly closed to prevent dust from falling between the leaves or down the spine. With the spine tipped up, run the vacuum nozzle or dust cloth from the spine to the fore edge and then down the fore edge. Then dust the rest of the book. If possible, reduce the vacuum suction by tying a few layers of cheesecloth over the hose so it will not suck loose bits that may come free. Do not use the vacuum on fragile materials or on single page documents. To clean glass in a frame, spray the glass cleaner on a rag and then clean glass. If spraying directly on the glass, the cleaner can seep around the edges and be drawn up inside the frame by capillary action. CARE AND HANDLING When preparing your paper documents for storage, a few simple preventive measures pay good dividends. The following suggestions outline best practices: Carefully remove all metal clips or staples from documents if possible to do so safely. Page order can be maintained by 10

12 putting the document in a folder. If paper clips must be used, use only stainless steel or plastic clips, and slip a folded piece of good quality paper or polyester film between clip and document to prevent embossing. Remove all rubber bands as they will harden over time, break, and stain the documents. Grip-tites or unbleached cloth tying tape can be used to hold materials together. Remove extraneous materials including blank note cards, pressed flowers, and newspaper clippings. If such items are a vital part of the document, house them separately in a folder or acid-free envelope. Do not leave adhesive notes on the documents as they will leave a residue, will lift the print image or text over time, and may bleed if they get wet. If the information is crucial, write down it on a piece of acid-free paper and store with the item. Refrain from writing your name or other information in books. Do not use an embossing ownership mark as it damages the paper structure. Do not tape book jacket sleeves to the book cover. Do not use any plastic storage materials made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride); use preservation quality inert polyester such as Mylar D or Melinex 516. Even with the best care, many materials may have a limited lifespan. An excellent practice is to make good quality copies on acidfree paper. In fact, copies on good quality paper may be the only realistic option for long-term preservation of newspaper clippings and other items on low grade paper. Quality copies are a good backup for information that is likely to be of lasting interest to your family, such as genealogical tables from a family Bible. When making photocopies handle the document with care; do not force a book open, down onto the photocopy machine or push down with the machine cover to get a better copy. Book-edge photocopiers allow copying more of small inner margins of tightly bound volumes. 11

13 STORAGE: FOLDERS AND BOXES As an additional layer of protection, paper documents should be stored in folders or boxes for the long term. A list of suppliers of conservation quality products is included at end of this pamphlet. The now popular hobby of scrapbooking has introduced conservation quality products to the general public in specialty stores and general merchandise outlets. The terms archival, alkaline, or acid-free have been used to describe a wide variety of materials with varying quality. True archival quality materials do not damage their contents chemically and resist deterioration themselves. Look for papers, folders, mat board, and boxes that have a high percentage of alpha cellulose, are lignin-free (a substance in ground wood pulps that promotes deterioration of paper) and include the description of buffered or non-buffered as appropriate. Non-buffered paper is used for photographs or blue-prints. The best way to store paper documents is to place them in acid-free folders and then store the folders in an acid-free container. Do not overstuff the folder when placing individual documents or small groups of similarly sized documents together. Make sure the documents fit within a folder; do not fold the documents to make them fit. If documents are folded already, unfold them before putting them in the folder only if they will do so easily. Do not allow documents to protrude beyond the edge of the folder. If the document is rolled, gently flatten it if possible do not force it flat. Make sure the folders are stiff enough to protect the contents from tears, breaks, and distortion. 12

14 Do not rummage through a box to find a document; take the documents or folders out and replace them with care. Fragile documents can be encapsulated in Mylar D sleeves to further protect them from damage. Encapsulation of a document encases it within two pieces of Mylar, with the two pieces being closed along the edges, usually with archival double stick tape. The document is free in the enclosure and can be removed at any time without damage. This is in contrast to lamination where the plastic is permanently sealed to the document and can only be removed with difficulty, severely damaging the document. If an acid-free storage box is not available, consider a metal deed box with a baked enamel finish. Avoid cardboard boxes or plastic containers. Make sure the box is not stuffed over full or not under filled, causing the documents slump. If books are packed in boxes, follow the shelving guidelines; make sure books are not packed on their fore edge. Large documents, maps, or posters should be stored flat within proper sized enclosures. Large documents may also be rolled around the outside of a lignin free tube at least 4 inches in diameter. To protect the roll and document, wrap it with archival paper or film and gently tie. Tubes can then be stored horizontally one layer deep. STORAGE: SHELVES Book shelves should be sturdy enough to take the weight of the books without sagging and adjustable so that there is at least one inch of air space above the tallest volume. Bookends should be tall and wide enough to support the volumes, have smooth edges, and be sturdy enough to hold up the heaviest volume. Wood book shelves should only be used if the wood is well sealed (i.e., varnished or painted) to prevent any acid from the wood leaching into the books. While books on open book shelves are 13

15 open to the environment, book shelves with glass fronts create a mini-environment that may intensify environmental factors. When shelved, books should stand squarely upright and be firmly supported by other books or bookends be tight enough so they support each other, but not too tight to prevent or hinder removing a book easily be laid horizontally if they are large and oversized, but do not put on top of vertically stored books never be shelved on their fore edge as the gravity effect on the text block may pull it loose from the cover be shelved back far enough away from the back of the book shelf to provide good air circulation. CONSERVATION TREATMENT The Holy Bible, containing the Old and New testaments/ v. Fore-edge paintings. Stored in acid-free archival boxes. From the collection of CSU Libraries. If your family documents and books are damaged, review them in terms of long term survival. The option of leaving the item as is is the first choice; other non-repair options include replacing the item with another copy, having an archival copy made, digitizing the 14

16 item, or putting the item in a protective enclosure. Conservation includes a wide range of treatments from a simple repair of a small tear to reconstruction of a whole volume or having the volume commercially rebound. Types of paper damage that are usually not reversible include acidity and brittleness of paper, foxing, bug or varmint damage, mold stains, water damage including bleeding of colors, and fire damage. Paper damage that is a candidate for conservation treatment include paper tears, holes in paper, missing pages, dirty paper, and rolled paper. Damages to books that are candidates for conservation treatment or rebinding include loose hinges, torn end sheets, missing or torn spine, text block loose from the cover, loose pages, and a damaged cover. Resist the temptation to do home repairs yourself with regular tape or materials. Do not use pressure sensitive tapes (like Scotch-brand) or masking tape as they will cause permanent damage. There are procedure manuals for conservation treatment and supplies available from vendors. However, before you try to make repairs yourself, practice on scrap paper and/or books until you feel confident of your skills. Colorado State University preservation staff is always available to review your documents and discuss possible treatment. Although we cannot treat your document or volume, we can refer you to other professionals. 15

17 WHEN DISASTER STRIKES Disasters, whether natural disasters or human made, are always unexpected. As the saying goes, prevention is the best medicine. Although libraries have experienced all types of disasters, the most common disaster is from water. WATER Although water salvage and restoration procedures are well established, some permanent damage may occur to the paper documents. The traditional treatments include air drying and drying via a freeze dryer. When discovering wet materials, review the conditions: How wet are the materials? Are they just slightly wet around the edges, or totally soaked, or somewhere in between? How long have the materials been wet? Have they begun to dry already? Are there any other damages to the materials? Is there evidence of mold? Are they dirty or smell badly? Has color or ink run over the document? Is the damage from clean or dirty water or from another liquid, for example, soda or coffee? How many items are there? Is just one document damaged, or several books or all the boxes in your basement? What types of materials are damaged? Paper, photographs, or computer disks? Options for action depend on the answers to these questions. A good resource is the Emergency Response and Salvage Wheel which outlines the critical stages of disaster response and practical tips for nine types of materials. If in doubt, freeze the paper materials. Freezing your materials gives you the time to make well informed decisions on further recovery activities. Always handle wet documents with care as wet paper is 16

18 very fragile and tears easily; do not try to separate paper or books stuck together. Wrap the item in freezer paper with the coated side inside, next to the material, and place it in the freezer. If the item is also moldy, seal it in a plastic bag and mark the package appropriately. If the documents are only slightly wet, they can be air dried. Single sheets can be placed flat on white blotting paper or paper towels and allowed to dry. For pamphlets or very thin paperbacks, place flat on the blotting paper and interleave with a paper towel every 20 pages or so. Turn the pages frequently and replace the paper towel when it becomes damp. When air drying books, place them upright on blotting paper or paper towels with the pages fanned open. Do not force any pages open. If the book is moderately wet, a paper towel can be interleaved between the cover and the text block and between pages. To increase air circulation, a fan set on low can be placed in front of the books. If the book has a few glossy pages, interleave them with waxed paper while the book is still wet to prevent the pages from sticking together. If the volume is very wet, it also can be air-dried, but it will take considerable time with the possibility of mold growth after hours. It is best to freeze the volume and contact a professional on alternative drying methods. MOLD AND MILDEW Mold and mildew are among the worst disasters that can occur to paper documents. Not only does it damage the paper documents, some molds may present a serious health risk to people. As mold 17

19 spores are present everywhere, the key to the prevention of a mold outbreak is the maintenance of a good environment. If you find mold growing on your collection, determine the source of the mold. Has it been an ongoing problem or triggered by a specific event, such as a water pipe leak? After removing the source of the problem, set up a preventive maintenance program to keep the area dry and to improve the air circulation. Because mold damage on paper is very difficult to treat, seriously consider discarding books that can be replaced or making duplicates of damaged documents. If an important document or book is heavily damaged, isolate it in a plastic bag, freeze it and seek the assistance of a professional. Do not try to clean mold that is wet. For dry materials, the powdery mold growth can be gently tamped off with a soft cloth, clean brush, or vacuumed. This operation needs to be done under controlled conditions and with proper precautions for the worker. Use of chemicals to treat mold is not recommended. Be aware that certain molds are health hazards. Moldy materials often have an unpleasant odor with them. The materials can be placed in a well ventilated room or outside to allow the odor to dissipate. An alternative method is to put materials in a container with kitty litter or activated charcoal, which will absorb the odor. Place the litter or charcoal in the bottom of a tub, arrange the volumes fanned open on top of something to prevent the volumes from touching the litter or charcoal, and cover the tub. Since you are creating a mini-environment, check the condition of the materials daily. 18

20 RESOURCES SOURCES OF SUPPLIES The following preservation supply companies have web sites and will send a catalog upon request: Gaylord Brothers P.O. Box 4901 Syracuse, NY Light Impressions P.O. Box 787 Brea, CA Metal Edge, Inc Bendini Boulevard Commerce, CA University Products P.O. Box Main Street Holyoke, MA Emergency Response and Salvage Wheel Heritage Preservation th Street NW, Suite 1200 Washington, DC

21 LOCAL RESOURCES Colorado State University Libraries Preservation Services Phone: Denver Bookbinding Company 2715 Seventeenth Street Denver, CO WEB SITES Colorado State University Libraries Preservation Services CoOL (Conservation On-Line) A Great Place to Start -- THE preservation web site with links to most other preservation organization web sites. Northeast Document Conservation Center (NDCC) 100 Brickstone Square Andover, MA Major preservation resource with an online manual Preservation of Library & Archival Materials. 20

22 SELECTED READINGS Greenfield, Jane. The Care of Fine Books. New York: Nick Lyons Books, Aimed at the librarian and collector of rare books, but with good basic information Kyle, Hedi. Library Materials Preservation Manual. Bronxville, NY: Nicholas T. Smith, Practical methods for preserving books, pamphlets and other printed materials. Lavender, Kenneth. Book Repair: A How-To-Do-It Manual. 2 nd ed. New York: Neal-Schuman, An illustrated manual for care and repair of your collection. Morrow, Carolyn Clark and Carole Dyal. Conservation Treatment Procedures. 2 nd ed. Littleton, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 1986 A manual of step-by-step procedures for the maintenance and repair of library materials Ritzenthaler, Mary Lynn. Preserving Archives and Manuscripts. Chicago: Society of American Archivists, Manual for archival collections with excellent information for the general collection. 21

23 Colorado State University Libraries connects Colorado State University to information and knowledge critical for research and learning. With a diverse collection of more than 2 million items and a broad range of research services, the Libraries provides faculty and students with opportunities to develop projects and ideas. These services include library instruction, research assistance, archives, electronic reserves, desktop resources delivery, and interlibrary loan. The University Libraries is a member of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), Greater Western Library Alliance (GWLA), and the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries. These memberships enable the Libraries to participate in preservation, resource sharing, and collection development programs on a national scale. Resource sharing is further enhanced by the Libraries locally developed RAPIDILL system now linking the collections of more than 90 research libraries around the world. Prepared by Diane B. Lunde Metadata and Preservation Services Rev. January

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