Acid-free paper: so words don’t fail you
November 14, 2007
Discussion and research continues on how to make digital archives available into the distant future. Meanwhile “old technology” still has much to offer. Paper, specifically acid-free paper, can last for hundreds of years.
Not quite an eco-symbol in the sense of being environmentally-friendly in material or production, but at least acid-free paper and permanent paper is made to last a very long time, which cuts down on long-term production and maintenance costs.
Wikipedia says – in a useful article covering how acid-free paper is made, as well as the background story (see resources below) -,
The scope of the standard is to cover publications and documents bought and maintained by libraries and archives. Such works include scholarly journals, periodicals, monographs, government documents, original documents, and significant works in fiction and non-fiction.
I wonder how (or who) actually decides that a work is significant? Is there any risk of creating a canon of “superior” works: “This must be a good book, just feel the paper.”
More speculatively, do or should paper engineers use acid-free or permanent paper in their constructions?
This entry is part of the Infomancy Eco-Symbols Series.
Sources and resources:
- Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books – A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology acid-free paper, permanent paper
- ISO 9706:1994 Information and documentation – Paper for documents – Requirements for permanence
- NISO Standards (National Information Standards Organization) ANSI/NISO Z39.48 – 1992(R2002) Permanence of Paper for Publications and Documents in Libraries and Archives
- Selections from North American Permanent Papers
- Wikipedia, Acid-free paper