Sunday, January 13, 2008

Urgent Task of Preserving and Restoring Old & Rare Books

Book rare store used

Don't listen to the “paperless office” rhetoric. If it's that “paperless” how come printer sales are going through the roof and an ever increasing number of books are published every year?
Just like TV did not replace radio, digital media and computers will never replace books. These two media, paper and digital, will continue to exist side by side just like TV and the radio.
Just like the digital media faces the peril of getting wiped away and thus need to backed up regularly, paper also has its enemy – time.

Millions of rare and valuable volumes are crumbling away in the nation's libraries and museums, and are attacked by mold, mildew, humidity, bugs, rats, and worse.

The chief culprit is the WOODEN PULP which has a very high acid content.
Did you know that most of the books published between 1840 and 1980 are printed on high-acid paper manufactured from wood pulp?

That's why about 120 million volumes are getting cracked and brittle with every passing day. Some just disintegrate when you lift them up and open their cover. They are like very old patients that need to be handled and treated extremely gently.

There are various book restoration centers and programs around the United States and one good one is at Sheridan Libraries Preservation Department of Johns Hopkins University. Here, trained students and curators do their best, resources and funds permitting, to bring some of decaying treasures of the past back to life.

However, a change of mentality across the land is probably what's needed to save this precious link we have to the recorded past. Most of us do not think of a book as something that needs “service.”

“To have a library without an active preservation department is like buying a Rolls Royce and never taking it to be serviced,” is how Johns Hopkins faculty member Stephen G. Nichols put it in the latest issue of the JOHNS HOPKINS Magazine (June 2006, pp. 32-28). “For some reason, people think books don't need to be serviced, but that is just not the case.”

Given the lack of adequate resources to save all the rare books facing extinction, someone suggested that “perhaps encapsulating a little-used damaged book in mylar could be the best way to preserve it until it's needed by a user” (ibid, p.38).

I also have a suggestion:
Since most of the damage occurs due to the presence of humidity, mildew or certain other microorganisms in the AIR, can these books be saved by keeping them in VACUUM

No air, no decay, it seems to me. And in the meanwhile average users can access these treasures through their digitized copies on the Internet.

Ugur Akinci, Ph.D. is a Creative Copywriter, Editor, an experienced and award-winning Technical Communicator specializing in fundraising packages, direct sales copy, web content, press releases, movie reviews and hi-tech documentation. He has worked as a Technical Writer for Fortune 100 companies for the last 7 years.

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Book rare store used