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The British Library, London, England


Dr. David W. G. Clements, Director of Public

The British Library has supported the development of a process initially intended to strengthen paper. The method consists of impregnating paper with a liquid mixture of acrylic and methacrylic monomers and causing them to polymerize using low intensity gamma rays. The end result is a paper/polymer composite in which some of the polymer is chemically attached to the cellulose. The process has been modified to neutralize the acid in paper.

Testing shows that strength increases up to 5-10 times for paper containing 15-20 percent by weight of polymer deposited in them.

A laboratory scale study was conducted in a treatment chamber which could take five books at a time. The study was completed successfully, and a brief for commercial operation has been prepared. The British Library is in discussions with industrial firms on implementing the technology on a commercial scale. They are not funding additional research for the process.

This is a promising process, and the Library is looking for ways to support and encourage its development.


- Combining strengthening and deacidification is a strong advantage. - The process is at the laboratory stage of development pending a commercial firm developing it.

- Alkaline reserve is low.

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- Some changes in the appearance of paper occur.



Union Carbide, Clear Lake, Wisconsin


Bruce J. Humphrey, Conservation Research, Union
Carbide Nova Tran corporation

Bruce J. Humphrey is the program director for Union Carbide's gas-phase Parylene paper strengthening process. Parylene is a polycrystalline polymer derived from xylene. In a heated chamber, the parylene is deposited onto paper fibers forming a uniform film on all surfaces and creating a parylene cellulose composite that has the appearance of paper but the properties of parylene, i.e., extreme resistance to chemical attack, a waterproofing characteristics, and resistance to tearing and elongation.

Parylene is not a deacidification process. The parylene process is used to consolidate ancient fragile ethnographic and natural history specimens. Its use for strengthening books is hampered by the cost per book based of the cost of the parylene itself by concern for the permanent alteration of the paper. The process is irreversible. In addition there is significant gain in weight. Parylene is deposited non-uniformly in bound books, tending to concentrate at the outer and not in the gutters. This causes distortion of treated books.


- Parylene has limited application for the mass preservation of book collections.



Karpov Institute of Physical Chemistry, Moscow,


Professor Igor Kardash, Assistant Director,

Professor Igor Kardash is developing a technology for strengthening paper. The process uses a high vacuum technology to introduce a polymer to the paper. Increase in strength has been demonstrated, but very limited other testing has been done on treated papers.

This is not a deacidification process. The process as described is very similar to the Parylene process patented by Union Carbide.


- The process is at the laboratory scale of development.
- The process may duplicate Union Carbide's Parylene process.
- Development may be slow for lack of resources.


Mr. HARRIS. The third page shows a graphic representation of the action plan. It has a time-line for a seven year proposal for the mass deacidification program, which is divided into three phases.

Our conclusion, based upon the recommendations of our evaluation panel and the decisions that other major research libraries throughout the United States are reaching about granting contracts, is that, in fact, some problems such as introduction of odor in books that Akzo had during our procurement are problems that can be resolved. So we have concluded that we should give them a one-year opportunity to resolve these remaining technical problems.


The action plan, as proposed, is divided into three phases, two one-year phases that would be at least for now, exclusive to Akzo. There is a one-year window of opportunity for them to eliminate the problems that existed last fall when we canceled our solicitation.

If and only if Akzo resolved the problems that remained last fall, we would proceed, with your approval, at the end of the first year to awarding of the second one-year contract to demonstrate limited production. This would utilize the full potential of the pilot plant at Dear Park, Texas. The plan for treating 50,000 books in one year is slightly in excess of the capacity of that plant.

If they could operate the plant, at full production level, with fulltime operation cycle after cycle and give the Library good production, we would come back and ask for funding for the third phase of our action plan. This would be a five-year, competitive procurement effort that would allow Akzo and other companies to bid on deacidifying 300,000 books a year for a five-year period.

During the two years between now and then, there is a window of opportunity for any other company to come forth and demonstrate that they can meet all of the Library's preservation and technical requirements. We would be enthusiastic about considering giving them the same opportunity that we are proposing for Akzo.

Mr. Fazio. So you are open to new ideas?
Mr. HARRIS. Yes.


Mr. Fazio. Do you know of any additional private sector investment in development of these technologies? Are we going to benefit down the road from others who think they have a better mousetrap?

Mr. HARRIS. I don't think we know of new initiatives about which we were not previously aware. On page 7 of our survey report you will see a laundry list of 25 firms, national libraries and archives, and consortial institutional efforts that we have touched base with and gathered intelligence on for our benefit and yours.

One thing that is encouraging, particularly in the last six

United States, such as Johns Hopkins, Harvard, Yale, et cetera, are awarding contracts to one of the vendors—Akzo.

We are hopeful that the other bidders that participated in our procurement will get additional contracts. I am not currently aware that any of them are being shown the same level confidence that the Akzo process is at this time.

Mr. Fazio. We will be monitoring their experience very closely.

Mr. HARRIS. Yes. The Librarian is asking you to unfreeze $375,000 so that we can proceed as vigorously as possible in the next few months to pursue the resolution of the problems with the Akzo process.

Mr. Fazio. We will certainly try to make a decision on that soon.

Dr. BILLINGTON. That is, of course, not part of the appropriations request this year.

Mr. Fazio. That is not fiscal year 1993 funds?

Dr. BILLINGTON. This is an authorization of money already appropriated.

Mr. HARRIS. In the first one-year phase, we are asking you to unfreeze $375,000. We estimate that only $72,000 of that amount would go directly to Akzo to pay for approximately 12 test runs.

Mr. Fazio. Where would the rest go?

Mr. HARRIS. The remainder of the $375,000 would go for technical support and consultant fees and supplies such as buying demonstration sets of books that we have to have in the first round of procurement, laboratory analysis, transportation back and forth a dozen times.

We have a breakdown which we would be glad to give you.
Mr. Fazio. We will take a look at it and give you our response.
[The information follows:]

Library of Congress-Mass deacidification program
Phase A estimates:
Consulting services ....

$150,000 Deacidification testing contract

72,000 Equipment/supplies ..

25,000 Travel........

15,000 Laboratory analysis...

36,000 Evaluation panel.

5,000 Clinical panel......

30,000 Shipping....

12,000 Documentation services.

5,000 Administrative support

25,000 Total

375,000 We will leave it at that. We need to digest this. I appreciate the fact that you knew we would be interested in the action plan and had one prepared. Ed is developing a tremendous amount of expertise in this area. I am not going to make any statements until I have had time to talk to him because he will just correct them. I appreciate your presentation. We will get into this a little more and let you know. Thank you.

I have a question I will submit for the record and also a question from Mr. Porter.

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