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Re: [BKARTS] Itchy hand syndrome and old childrens books



The first thing that popped into my head— Acid paper.

Twenty-five years ago in another life, when I worked in the catalog dept of our university library, there were two people in that department who had developed a skin sensitivity to certain kinds of paper. The culprits seemed to be NCR paper AND OLD PAPER of various kinds. One of these people cataloged (or re-cataloged) old materials, and he also used some NCR forms. The other, the binding clerk, seemed to have a problem only with the NCR processing forms that she sent off with each bundle of journals. She had intermittent problems; the cataloger wore protective gloves all the time when working with either kind of material. My thought was that their problems were the result of either acid chemicals or acids in the papers. Or perhaps the dust (which is considered acidic) from the paper/books.

Early on, I had been told by some preservation guru (which one is forgotten) that the odd smell of an old book is characteristic of high-acid paper, noticeable even before the paper is especially brittle. She/he was not talking about musty smell of mildew or dampness. That's a different odor.

This is only conjecture. I'd like to hear theories that other conservator types might have. It's also possible that NEDCC (New England Document Conservation Center) or CCI (Canadian Conservation Institute) might have some answers.

Carol
Eugene, OR
-----

On Aug 17, 2006, at 7:25 PM, Stuff@Peabodypdx wrote:

Hello,

I've received a call from a customer who mentions that each time they start
opening books her husband had as a child, their hands start to itch. I
haven't seen the books, she says they are in good shape but have the itchy
hand problem.


Can mould be causing this issue? What other questions should I pose to her?
I plan on wearing gloves when handling the books that's for sure.


My first reaction is to refer her to a conservationist. In no way do I want
to get close to providing the kind of services I think she is needing. I'll
gladly defer to the conservation professionals as I do with other books that
are obviously in need of advanced specialized care.


How should she box them up to send off?

First I'd like to understand what the process will be to fix her problem so
I can explain to her what she is facing.


Thank you in advance for your postings on the possible causes of the case of
itchy hand syndrome.


Connie Peabody

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***********************************************
Guild of Book Workers' 100th Anniversary Exhibition Now Online - Catalog Available
<http://palimpsest.stanford.edu/byorg/gbw/>
Flag Book Bind-O-Rama and Exhibit
Entry Deadline, September 15, 2006
For all your subscription questions, go to the
Book_Arts-L FAQ and Archive.
See <http://www.philobiblon.com> for full information
***********************************************



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