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3. The situation in the libraries
Nowadays it is no longer questioned that the decay of library materials is an international problem. Differing attitudes on the extent of the damage do not contribute much to solving the problem. The collections in our libraries are just as much a part of our cultural heritage as historicals monuments, paintings and archaeological discoveries. In contrast to them, books are used daily, this means that they must be mechanic ally and functionally in order. If the quality of the paper or the book-binding materials worsen, then the lifespan of the book will be shortened accordingly.
More than 90% of the books stored in our libraries and archives originate from the 19th and 20th centuries. The famous William J. Barrow Research laboratory discovered in a comprehensive study on the contents of modern libraries that more than 50% of the books printed between 1900 and 1945 sill no longer exist by the year 2000.
This basic hypothesis was confirmed by research carried out by the British Library and the Bibliotheque Nationale. The following to unanimous results were arrived at on the constant ageing process of book paper:
About 97% of all paper produced since 1850 is acidic. 50% of paper manufactured since 1850 contains lignin. The loss of endurance in this paper or specifically the fold endurance of this paper will drop by 82% in 21 years. From this can be calculated an average rate Or 4. 66%. II books containing acidic mechanical wood pulp lose 82% of their original strength in the space of 21 years, then their further use is of high value from the point of view of preservation. Only through the most careful treatment can damage and material loss be avoided. Special instruction should be provided For the use of these categories of the book-stock so that the mechanical damage can be reduced to a minimum .
In 1986 a UNESCO/IFLA/ICA survey on the preservation and conservation of library and archival material was carried out on 300 archives and 550 libraries. The following report was compiled from the answers that were received:
- 66% of the establishments which were consulted stated that the climatic conditions in their buildings were regularly checked - only 45% analyses the results.
- 34% of all establishments have structural and climatic problems.
- 50% of the establishments stated that conditions had not changed in the last decade, 36% spoke of improvements and all of deterioration.
- In 88% of the establishments negative changes in the stock caused by usage where registered. The four main factors in question there frequent use, improper instructions for use, improper photocopying and the lack of facilities in the production of microfilm.
- About 60% of the establishments had a restoration work shop at their disposal. Subsequent visits showed that the workshops did not correspond to their needs in the sense of space, personnel and technology.
The results of the UNESCO/IFLA/ICA survey showed some aspects of the state of "preservation" of cultural heritage on an inter national scale. It is evident that both the state of the stock in the libraries as well as the organisational and material conditions of preserving it through effective action must be very rapidly improved.
The situation of the libraries forces one to consider have the printed and written cultural heritage can be preserved. In the 70s' IFLA to established a number of central programmes. In 1984 to special project group recommended the supplementing c: the three groups already in existence (UAP, UBCIM, UDT) with further programmes, amongst then the new central programme for "preservation" and conservation (PAC). he activities of this programme (PAC) are directed at the cooperation between IFLA and other organizations, the work-out of strategies, studies end research projects, the training and further education of qualified employees as well as pilot projects. The international centre for PAC was its seat in the preservation office of the library of Congress in Washington and is supported by regional centres an Sable Bibliotheque Nationale. in France), Leipzig (Deutsche Bücherei, DDR) and Caracas (National library, Venezuela). he PAC probe was brought into being at the first International Conference on conservation and library stock (in Vienna, 7 10 April 1986), which was organized by the Conference of D rectors of the National Library (CDNL) in cc-operation with IFLA and UNESCO More than 120 directors of National Libraries and specialists from all over the world took part in this conference which was followed by a seminar on questions about training in the field of conservation in library schools. This was also promoted by the UNESCO. The PAC central programme began its work with important selected projects. The 45 projects and recommendations from the Vienna conference were published by the international centre and published in the IFLA publication series. The regional centres started off with the training of conservationists.
Furthermore, agreements were made on the publication of an information circular, the "Internal Preservation News by the International Centre witch the help of the regional centres. Various studies on the following subjects, also promoted by UNESCO are now being worked on:
- a study on the problem of mould in archives and libraries.
- a study on the problem of In protection from disaster.
- a study on the problem of mass "preservation" techniques.
- a study on the problem of repelling insect attacks on library and archive stock.
Steps are being taken to establish a data bank which will collect information on the worldwide situation of conservation and restoration of library material. In the regional centres IFLA is possible to borrow French, Spanish and German versions of slide shows on subjects such as "the treatment of books in general stocks" and "planning a conservation programme", which have been made by the Library of Congress. In this way, considerable work towards realizing the PAC programme has been initiated so that the main aims:
- to make sure that published and unpublished library material of all sizes can be retained in a useable form for as long as possible.
- to encourage ways of solving the serious problem of the physical wear and tear of library materials.
- to encourage the working-out of national and international standards of production, conservation and treatment of library materials, which from now on will be achieved with the help of a unified plan.
A pre-condition for the achievement of each preservation strategy is a social conscience - that society is aware of the problems of libraries and archives. It is unrealistic to believe that a library is able to preserve its contents on its own . A national preservation strategy in connection with international co-operation is seen as an indispensable way of successfully; preserving the cultural heritage of mankind. The setting-up of a national programme is being worked on in many countries. Also in the GDR there are ideas to develop activities on a national scale to solve the problems which have to be faced in the field of conservation and restoration. A programme has been worked out for the development of mass-preservation methods in GDR libraries.
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