January 21, 1998 Library of Congress Awards Second Contract for Book Preservation

Contact: Helen W. Dalrymple (202) 707-1940

The Library of Congress has awarded a contract to Preservation Technologies, Limited Partnership (PTLP), of Cranberry, Pennsylvania, to provide book preservation services to the Library for the next four years using the firm's Bookkeeper mass deacidification process. This contract is an outgrowth of a limited production contract that enabled the Library to deacidify almost 100,000 books in the past 18 months and to work out many selection, shipping, and quality control details of the deacidification program.

Mass deacidification retards embrittlement of paper and is therefore a preservation treatment appropriate for books that are acidic and at risk of loss if no action is taken. So far, books have been treated from the general and special collections and the Law Library. The Library has set priorities for those additional collections slated to receive deacidification treatment under the new contract. Congress approved the Library's proposal to negotiate the new four-year contract to deacidify larger quantities of important, endangered books; to incorporate deacidification into the Library's arsenal of preservation options; and to continue to evaluate other mass deacidification processes. The Library continues to encourage other companies with deacidification technologies capable of mass treatment to come forward, if their processes have the potential to meet or exceed the Library's technical requirements.

Acidity in paper undermines the use and long-term preservation of library collections and archival materials. Millions of deteriorating books and documents in libraries and archives throughout the world attest to this problem. The Library of Congress -- with strong support from the U.S. Congress -- has provided leadership over several decades in the development and evaluation of deacidification processes on a mass scale and their application to increasingly larger volumes of books and other paper-based items to achieve economies of scale.

The primary focus of the new contract is to ensure effective deacidification for about 250,000 books; production incentives in the new agreement could result in deacidification treatment for up to 275,000 books. In an innovative feature of the new contract, PTLP for the first time will provide on-site services within Library buildings in addition to the deacidification treatment that will be performed at the Bookkeeper plant in Pennsylvania. With training and oversight provided by the Library, PTLP is pulling, packing, shipping, and refiling books from collections that have been prioritized for deacidification.

Library staff will oversee the selection and refiling of books and the effectiveness of treatment. Staff are also developing procedures to ensure that information about each deacidified book is part of the Library's bibliographic database. In addition, the Library hopes to perform tests to evaluate the effectiveness of mass treatment of manuscripts and other paper-based materials in nonbook formats.

Given the effective operation of its mass deacidification program over the past two years, the Library will be pleased to act as a demonstration site for managers or technical staffs from other libraries, archives, and cultural institutions who are interested in learning firsthand about administrative and work flow procedures required for mass deacidification programs. Interested organizations should contact Kenneth E. Harris, Preservation Projects Director, Preservation Directorate, Library of Congress LM-G21, Washington, DC 20540-4500. Telephone: (202) 707-1054; Fax: (202) 707-3434. Additional information about the Library's mass deacidification program is available at the following Internet address: http://www.loc.gov/preserv/.


PR 98-008
ISSN 0731-3527