NYU Libraries employs mass deacidification to neutralize acidic paper in general collections books. Selection of books for mass deacidification is done on a collection basis. Currently, collections of foreign publications are targeted for this process. NYU has chosen to concentrate on the Slavic Studies and Near and Middle Eastern Studies collections for the next few years.
Over the past twenty years many different mass deacidification treatments have been developed and tried with varying degrees of success. At the moment the only vendor in North America capable of carrying out mass deacidification on bound and unbound materials is Preservation Technologies, LP, in Pittsburgh, PA. Preservation Technologies uses the Bookkeeper process to deacidify. An alkaline buffer neutralizes acids in the paper raising the pH to a range of 7.5 to 9.5 and leaving a buffer that is equivalent to about 1% by weight calcium carbonate. The process leaves no noticeable odor and independent testing has shown it to be a non-carcinogenic process.
After conferring with curators regarding selection criteria, Barbara Goldsmith Preservation & Conservation Department staff applies physical condition criteria to further select appropriate materials for deacidification. For example, all materials being sent for deacidification must have flexible paper and be able to withstand a minimum of two double folds. The dominant paper in the text block cannot be made of glossy or coated stock. The pH must be below 7 as indicated by the yellow color when a small mark is made on the last page of the text block with a pH pen using chlorophenol red as the indicator and the bindings and text block must be structurally sound.
As there is no nationally accessible database indicating whether a particular volume has been deacidified, each title deacidified will have the following statement entered into the 583 Field:
NYU Libraries is recently participated in a coordinated grant sponsored by the New York Public Research Library and funded by the New York State Conservation and Preservation Program. NYU selected Russian and Middle Eastern literature and deacidified approximately 2,000 acidic volumes as part of this grant from NYS.
Additional information regarding mass deacidification can be obtained from Paula De Stefano, in the Barbara Goldsmith Preservation & Conservation Department (212/998-2563; or, firstname.lastname@example.org. The Preservation Department is located on Lower Level 2, in the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, at NYU.