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Introduction on the Standard Progress in China for Ancient Books Preservation & Conservation and Paper Deacidification


China is one of four great ancient civilizations in the world, which has a long history and splendid culture. China has rich and numerous archives and books which can well record its history. With the inheritance and protection of those precious cultural heritages, the diligent and wise Chinese people have accumulated valuable experience. Nowadays, with the rapid development of standardization, ancient books preservation and conservation also needs to take into consideration. Chinese conservators of ancient books have done a lot of work on it. This paper mainly introduces the standards of Chinese ancient books conservation and the paper deacidification from the following three aspects:

1. Advances in Chinese TC46/SC10 (Document Storage and Conditions for Preservation Technology Subcommittee)

China is one of the 25 members of the ISO/TC46. ISO forty-sixth Technical Committee-Literature and Information Technology Committee is responsible for the formulation and promotion work of international standards related to documentation institutions and libraries.

ISO/TC46 has a subcommittee named SC10 Technical Committee (Document Storage and Conditions for Preservation).The TC46/SC10 Technical Committee of China established in 1995, while the Secretariat is in the National Library of China. It is responsible for drawing up, examining and revising, submitting approval, and promoting the document protection standards in China.

In 2009, The TC46/SC10 Technical Committee of China drafted GB/T 24422 - 2009 information and the paper archives durability and durability requirements, by modifying ISO 11108:1996 Information and documentation- Archival paper- Requirements for permanence and durability. Besides, it also drafted GB/T 24423 - 2009 information and document -Paper for documents-Requirements for permanence, by modifying ISO 9706:1994 Information and documentation - Paper for documents - Requirements for permanence. In GB/T 24422 - 2009, the indexes of main items, such as fiber composition, quantitative, tearing strength, folding endurance, cold extraction pH value, alkali reserve and oxidation resistance of archival paper, have shown full specific requirements. According to the actual situation of paper in China, fiber component is partly modified, and the content of Test Methods is separated as an independent chapter according to the normal compiling practice of Chinese standards. The standard of GB/T 24423 - 2009, has listed special requirements of strength properties, alkali reserve, antioxidant and water extract pH values of document paper sampling, as well as authorized symbols for the paper complied with this standard. According to the China formula expression method, the formula of strength properties is modified. The appendix B, relating to identification, storage and other contents, is adjusted to Clause Eight, with the increased storage requirements. Test Methods in this standard is also separated as a an independent chapter.

In 2011, the technical subcommittee drafted GB/T 27703-2011 Information and Documentation –Document Storage- Requirements for Archive and Library Materials, by modifying ISO 11799:2003 Information and Documentation - Document Storage-Requirements for Archive and Library Materials. This standard proposes the requirements of the construction, temperature and humidity, air quality, lighting, fire protection, security, pest control, boxes and exhibition. Compared with the original international standards, the requirements such as seismic design, fire protection design, the total thermal resistance of retaining structure, waterproof design, underground document stacks, air quality testing methods, fresh air ratio, lighting design, safety protection system design, safety protection level, chemical disinfection of waste treatment, acid free paper and cardboard, have been modified to comply with the relevant national standards of China. At the same time, the tightness parameter of the doors and windows, fire resistance rating, firewall refractory limit, the total thermal resistance of exterior walls and the roof, luminance of document stacks, UV content value, and other specific numerical requirements are adjusted to suit the relevant national standards. The appendix A and appendix B are moved to clauses 6.3 and 5.2. Besides, document annual exposure requirement is added.

In 2013, the Technical Subcommittee drafted GB/T 30108-2013 Information and Document - Requirements for Binding for Books, Periodicals, Serials and Other Paper Documents for Archive and Library use Methods and Materials, by modifying ISO 14416:2003 Information and Documentation - Requirements for Binding for Books, Periodicals, Serials and Other Paper Documents for Archive and Library use Methods and Materials. This Standard proposes the binding principle, specific requirements of binding material, the basic requirements of book binding, and requirements of book block binding. Compared with the original one, this standard firstly deletes some contents, such as those are already cancelled or not appear at all, the crinoline terminology, the requirements of strengthening paper and strengthening cloth. Then it modifies the fabric breaking requirements and breaking strength unit. It increases requirements of headband and thread. Finally, the term of “rounding and backing” is divided into two terms.

In 2014, the Technical Subcommittee has drafted Chinese national standards Information and Documentation - Permanence and Durability of Writing, Printing and Copying on Paper - Requirements and Test Methods, by modifying using ISO 11798-1999 Information and documentation - Permanence and Durability of Writing, Printing and Copying on Paper - Requirements and Test Methods. This national standard is in the process of approval. The standard proposes requirements and test methods of permanence and durability assessment for long-term preservation on writing, printing, and photocopied materials in library, archives and other storage organization. This standard is applicable to all the writings on paper (except the provisions of ISO/TC 42 photo file) and colorful handwritings (just retain the content to retain, not all the characteristics of Art); it is not suitable for files and regulatory documents which are persevered in a bad environment. It mainly includes requisite properties of handwriting on paper documents, such as optical density, appearance, light resistance, water resistance; it includes requirements of preparing test samples, test methods, steps and precautions, the content must be in the test report. In addition, it includes detailed description of three appendices and the test.

The formulation, issue and implementation of those standards not only improve the durability of paper, handwriting and binding of the document, but also has important significance in making standard for preservation conditions of library and other collection units, as well as in extending life of all kinds of literature with important historical value. At the same time, it has very practical significance in promoting the production of paper, handwriting, and other document preservation materials in China, and in improving the technology level of the book-bingding enterprises in order to reduce the pollutions.

2. Standards development progress of ancient books preservation in the National Library of China

In 2007, the General Office of the State Council issued General Points on Ancient Books Preservation(Document of State Council [2007] No. 6), proposing to vigorously implement Chinese Ancient Books Preservation Project. Accordingly,, National Library of China, cooperated with Shanghai Library, Capital library , Tianjin Library, was commissioned by the Ministry of Culture, to draw up six prefessional standardsAmong those standards, three are related to Chinese ancient books preservation affairs: WH/T 24-2006 Basic Requirements for Ancient Book Stacks, WH/T 22-2006 Standards for Ranking of Damage and WH/T 23-2006 Techniques and Quality Standards of Conservation. In WH/T 24-2006 Basic Requirements for Ancient Book Stacks, the requirements of temperature and humidity,air purification, light and UV protection,and book stack construction, fire protection, security and other basic conditions associated with the document preservation are provided. In WH/T 22-2006 Standards for Ranking of Damage, the ranking standards for five damage grades are listed. In WH/T 23-2006 Techniques and Quality Standards of Conservation, it contains the requirements of repairing and binding specification of ancient books, basic requirements of establishing restoration archives, work sheet and work stuido, quality requirements of restoration materials, machine and the after- restoration quality, as well as all kinds of binding styles, quality grades, test content. The formulation and implementation of those standards provide guidelines for ancient books preservation work.

In 2008, Chinese national standard GB/T 21712-2008 Techniques and Quality Standards of Conservation was developed from the professional standard of the Ministry of culture, on basis of the WH/T 23-2006 Techniques and Quality Standards of Conservation, led by the National Library of China. It lists the different grades of repairing process, technical requirements, inspection and quality control of ancient books restoration.

In 2013, the standard of GB/T 30227-2013 Basic Requirements for Ancient Book Stacks is drawn up. The standard provides reliable scientific basis of books stacks construction and ancient books preservation work for all levels of Libraries and other holding institutions. Updated with the external and international latest technology and ideas about the ancient books preservation , the standard upgraded and modified the original professional standards. It not only relys on the experience of the latest development of related profession work, but also fully considers China's national conditions. The standard is accordance with China's national technology development level, thus can ensure the implementation.

In 2014, the National Library of China has set up two national standard projects within the National Library Standards Committee: Technical Regulations of Frozen Treatment to Kill the Insect and Technical Requirement of Protective Box for Ancient books. The standard of Technical Regulations of Frozen Method to Kill the Insect will provide technology condition, operation method and safety protection. This standard is applicable to freeze books to kill the insect for all kinds of library, archives and other the organizations with ancient literature collections. The standard in the appendix also will provide technical parameters including pest lethal temperature and time, effect on frozen treatment, influence of low temperature on paper property and moisture content, in order to provide reference for library staff in the book frozen treatment.

The national standard Technical Requirement of Protective Box for Ancient books is a recommended technical regulation, servicing for all types of books collection institutions and manufacturers. This standard will mainly provide technical requirements of the parameters and indexes for the production materials, with description on the making process. Specific requirements of the indexes are given here, such as the pH value, potassium permanganate value, alkali reserve, physical strength and organic compounds emissions of the paperboard, pH value, color fastness and physical strength of the fabric, as well as pH value, organic compound content of the binder. The standard effectively combined the traditional production process and advanced science and technology, thus could enable researchers to monitor production process by the more advanced and scientific detection means.

3、The progress on paper deacidification in China

The surveys of paper acidification and the studies on deacidification method in China started rather late. In 2004, National Library of China tested samples of its paper collections, and issued the report named Investigation and Analysis of Acidification and Preservation Condition for the Paper Collections in the National Library of China. The report pointed out that there were different grades of the acidification, and the document produced in the period of the Republic of China were in the most serious condition. In 2014, the General Office of ”The Republic of China Period Docuemtn Preservation Plan” of the National Library of China authorized Nanjing Library to investigate acidification condition of the document in the period of the Republic of China, as well as the worldwide technology research on deacidification. Nanjing Library has detected pH value of the document in its own library and Chongqing Library. The result shows that the document produced in the period of the Republic of China, both in Nanjing Library and Chongqing Library are very serious acidify.

Deacidification practice in China began in the mid 80's of the last century. Nanjing Museum, Shaanxi Provincial Archives, the National Archives, Guangdong University of Technology, Zhejiang University, other institutions have carried out research on Deacidification. The deacidification agent used mainly are diethyl zinc, morpholine, magnesium carbonate, magnesium bicarbonate, barium hydroxide, plasma, nanometer magnesium hydroxide. But until now, there has not yet a viable mass deacidification process accepted.

In the process of deacidification study, researchers realized that they should draw up some standards and specifications. Paper deacidification standards mainly include the following aspects:

1) The evaluation criteria of acidification, including the identification of acidification, standard of collections to be deacidified and those cannot be deacidified.

2) deacidification effect evaluation standard.

3) deacidification technology guide and specification.

The standards of acidification and deacidification are on-going now.