A sample of books drawn from the National Union Catalog (735 titles) for analysis in terms of imprint date, reported in 1962, showed that73.05% of all titles (7,665,800) and 57.34% of the pages of those titles (1,720,570,000) were printed after 1869, when the “poorer paper” era began and so will not likely last into the twenty-first century.               (Source)


A survey undertaken in 1972 of preservation efforts in academic libraries with collections of 500,000 volumes or more (sample size: 115; responding: 86 [75%]) showed that62 of responding libraries (72%) reported some preservation procedures.                   (Source)

        Ibid…. showed that40 responding libraries use stack checks to discover items needing preservation attention, 20 libraries use inventories, and 25 rely upon staff reports.                    (Source)

        Ibid…. showed that32 responding libraries reported treating less than 300 volumes a year for preservation purposes, 4 libraries treated more than 1,000 volumes annually, and 1 library processed more than 1% of the collection annually.                       (Source)

A survey reported in 1976 of large (over 500,000 volumes) U.S. academic libraries showed that72% have an independent preservation department or specific mechanism to deal with library materials.            (Source)

A study reported in 1980 of a systematic sample of English, German, French, Italian, and Spanish literary materials at the University of Michigan investigating deterioration (sample size: 2,000 volumes; available for inspection: 1,731 volumes) showed that:

                44.9% of the materials were rated 2 or less (where “a typical 2 might be a book with original hard binding firmly attached but with brittle paper that was either discolored or had inadequate margins”);

                24.5% of the materials were rated 1 or less (where “a book rated ‘1’ might be securely paperbound, with fair paper and inadequate margins, or it might have a hard binding, insecurely attached, and brittle paper. If that last book also had discoloration or inadequate margins, it rated ‘0’”).                      (Source)

A study reported in 1983 at the University of North Carolina investigating the quality of paper in French books dealing with French literature and criticism and history that were published during the period 1860-1914 (1,349 imprints held in the Wilson Library of the University of North Carolina examined) showed thatfor 5-year periods on the basis of the paper in the book, the number of books in “good” condition declined from 94% in 1860 to 56% in 1894, while the books in “bad” condition increased from 4% in 1860 to 17% in 1894. Thereafter, the number of books in “good” condition generally ran about 40% up to 1914, while the books in “bad” condition generally ran between 22-28% up to 1914.              (Source)

        Ibid…. showed thatfor the period 1895-1914 the number of books in “good” or “bad” condition (based on their paper) by major publishers of the period were as follows:

                Calmann-Levy                                     51% good;   12% bad

                Champion                                            36% good;   23% bad

                Charpentier                                          19% good;   72% bad

                Hachette                                              16% good;   39% bad

                Mercure de France                              24% good;     5% bad

                Perrin                                                   31% good;   26% bad

                Plon                                                     61% good;   13% bad

For all publishers sampled (77) the overall average of “good” books for this time period was 39%, while the overall average of “bad” books was 24%.                  (Source)

        Ibid…. showed thatbetween 1860 and 1914 the paper in the history had generally held up better than the paper in the literature books. Specifically, 66% of the history books were in “good” condition, compared to 55% of the literature books, while 12% of the history books were in “bad” condition, compared to 20% of the literature books.                          (Source)

Dr. David Kohl

 "Libraries in the digital age are experiencing the most profound transformation since ancient Mesopotamian scribes first began gathering and organizing cuneiform tablets."

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