DEACIDIFICATION FOR THE CONSERVATION AND PRESERVATION OF PAPER-BASED WORKS: A REVIEW

John W. Baty, Crystal L. Maitland, William Minter, Martin A. Hubbe, Sonja K. Jordan-Mowery

Abstract


Embrittlement threatens the useful lifetime of books, maps, manuscripts, and works of art on paper during storage, circulation, and display in libraries, museums, and archives. Past studies have traced much of the embrittlement to the Brønsted-acidic conditions under which printing papers have been made, especially during the period between the mid 1800s to about 1990. This article reviews measures that conservators and collection managers have taken to reduce the acidity of books and other paper-based materials, thereby decreasing the rates of acid-catalyzed hydrolysis and other changes leading to embrittlement. Technical challenges include the selection of an alkaline additive, selecting and implementing a way to distribute this alkaline substance uniformly in the sheet and bound volumes, avoiding excessively high pH conditions, minimizing the rate of loss of physical properties such as resistance to folding, and avoiding any conditions that cause evident damage to the documents one is trying to preserve. Developers have achieved considerable progress, and modern librarians and researchers have many procedures from which to choose as a starting point for further developments.

Keywords


Deacidification of paper; Conservation of documents; Acid-catalyzed hydrolysis; Calcium carbonate; Alkaline reserve; Mass deacidification; Library collections; Aging of paper

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