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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter November 19, 2015

Cellulose Acetate Lamination: A Literature Review and Survey of Paper-Based Collections in the United States

Molly McGath, Sonja Jordan-Mowery, Mark Pollei, Steven Heslip and John Baty

Abstract

Cellulose acetate (CA) lamination, a technique to strengthen documents by sealing them between sheets of thermoplastic film, was widespread from the 1930s to the 1990s. Its use gradually stopped in the 1980s amid concerns about the physical and chemical instability of the laminate and the degradation risks posed to the treated document. Despite concerns about CA lamination, no coordinated effort has taken place to establish the various materials and techniques used in cellulose acetate laminations or to determine the number and present condition of CA laminated documents in US collections. In this paper, we review the chemistry and methods used in CA lamination. We then report results of a survey of 52 US institutions with significant laminated collections. We find that at least 2.9 million laminated documents exist in US collections, and most of those documents are observed to be in stable condition. A majority of the institutions used cellulose diacetate (CDA) as the laminating film and as few as 0.6% CDA laminated documents have been delaminated. The results should aid institutions in determining the cost benefit in the management of these significant collections.

Zusammenfassung

Celluloseacetat-Laminierung: Literaturübersicht und Umfrage in Archiven und Sammlungen in den USA

Bei der Celluloseacetat(CA)-Laminierung wurden Dokumente zwischen thermoplastischen Folien versiegelt, um sie dadurch zu verstärken. Die Technik war von den 1930er bis zu den 1990er Jahren weit verbreitet. Allerdings führten Zweifel an der physikalischen und chemischen Stabilität des Laminats und Untersuchungen zu Risiken für die behandelten Dokumente in den 1980er Jahren zu einer schrittweisen Einstellung der Laminierung. Trotz Bedenken an der CA-Laminierung wurde bislang kein koordinierter Versuch zur systematischen Beschreibung der verschiedenen Materialien und Techniken, die dabei zum Einsatz kamen, unternommen. Auch gibt es keine Schätzungen, in welchem Umfang Dokumente in Sammlungen in den USA laminiert wurden und in welchem Zustand sich diese befinden. In dem vorliegenden Beitrag werden Materialien und Methoden der CA-Laminierung beschrieben und die Ergebnisse einer Befragung von 52 Institutionen in den USA, in deren Sammlungen sich eine große Anzahl an laminierten Dokumenten befinden, zusammengefasst. Laut unserer Studie existieren ca. 2,9 Mio. laminierte Dokumente in Sammlungen in den USA, wobei sich die meisten dieser Dokumente in einem stabilen Zustand befinden. Ein Großteil der Institutionen verwendete Cellulosediacetat (CDA) als Laminierfolie, und nur 0,6% CDA-laminierte Dokumente wurden bis zum gegenwärtigen Zeitpunkt delaminiert. Die Ergebnisse der Studie können Institutionen im Umgang mit laminierten Sammlungsbeständen und bei damit verbundenen Kosten-Nutzen Rechnungen unterstützen.

Résumé

Laminage à base d’acétate de cellulose: examen de la littérature et vue d’ensemble des collections à base de documents papier aux États-Unis

Le laminage à base d‘acétate de cellulose, une technique de renforcement des documents par scellement entre des feuilles de film thermoplastique, a été généralisée entre 1930 et 1990. Son utilisation a progressivement cessé dans les années 1980 à cause des préoccupations au sujet de l‘instabilité physique et chimique du stratifié et des risques de dégradation du document traité. Malgré les inquiétudes concernant le laminage à base de cellulose d‘acétate, aucun effort coordonné n’a eu lieu pour établir une vue d’ensemble des différents matériaux et techniques utilisés pour le laminage à base de cellulose d‘acétate ni pour déterminer le nombre et l‘état actuel des documents stratifiées à l’acétate de Cellulose dans des collections américaines. Dans cet article, nous examinons la chimie et les méthodes utilisées pour le laminage à base de cellulose d‘acétate. Nous rendons compte ensuite des résultats d‘un sondage dans cinquante-deux institutions des États-Unis possédant d’importantes collections de documents laminés. Nous constatons qu’au moins 2,9 millions de documents laminés existent dans les collections américaines et que la plupart de ces documents sont dans un état stable. La majorité des institutions ont utilisé du diacétate de cellulose comme film de laminage et que seulement 0,6% des documents laminés avec du diacétate de cellulose ont été délaminés. Les résultats de cette étude devraient aider les établissements dans leur analyse coût/bénéfices pour la gestion de ces importantes collections.

Acknowledgements

We thank the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for funding this research. We are grateful to Vicki Lee at the Maryland State Archives; Sarah Koonts and Emily Rainwater at the North Carolina State Archives; and Paulette Schwarting, Stacy Rusch and E. Lee Shepard the Virginia State Library for beta-testing the survey and allowing us to visit their collections. We thank Mike Reese of the Sheridan Libraries and University Museums, Johns Hopkins University for his input on the survey process. We thank Patricia McGuiggan for extensive editing. We thank the conservators and conservation scientists of the Department of Conservation & Preservation, the Sheridan Libraries and University Museums, Johns Hopkins University.

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Received: 2015-8-13
Revised: 2015-10-23
Accepted: 2015-10-29
Published Online: 2015-11-19
Published in Print: 2015-12-1

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