Today, hundreds of years of cultural heritage are at serious risk of destruction. Paper produced industrially since the mid-19th century presents a somewhat different but equally serious challenge. With increasing age, acids break up the molecule chains of the cellulose fibres, causing all paper to become brittle and brown. If left untreated, the paper can eventually no longer be handled. The deterioration process is auto-catalytic; more acid is released during the process and the process is thus accelerated. This acidic destruction is responsible for up to 90 percent of all damage to books and documents. While the symptoms of the damage to books and documents have been known for a long time ago, the process itself was only fully understood a few decades ago. As a result, acidfree paper production started in the 1980s in an effort to avoid the otherwise inevitable destruction of paper.
Traditionally, stock preservation has been carried out by hand, making the process expensive, time consuming, and not suitable for large collections.
Experts at the PAL PRESERVATION ACADEMY GmbH Leipzig have been involved in the development and application of mass de-acidification processes for many years and they have been instrumental in the development of an industrial method for large scale de-acidification which allows for stock preservation of large collections at reasonable costs and with a much short time commitment.
PAL Booksaver®, developed by and proprietary to PAL, is an excellent, modern, and efficient aqueous-phase de-acidification process, which raises the pH values of acidic paper and effectively protects the cellulose molecules against the effects of acidic airborne contaminants. The PAL Booksaver® puts the services of the PAL PRESERVATION ACADEMY at the cutting edge in the area of mass de-acidification. Due to the successful reduction of undesirable side effects, the PAL Booksaver® process is also suitable for particularly sensitive materials.
Prof. Dr. Gabriele Beger, Director of the National and University Library Hamburg
about cooperation with the PAL company
Our employees were curious and partly skeptical how such a task can be managed in the framework of our daily jobs, yet we could convince ourselves that the cooperation from the retrieval and returns, to the coordination of transports and to finding solutions for occurring problems was excellent.
We knew that our holdings were in the best hands, we received professional consulting and thus we could achieve a measurable contribution for the preservation of our holdings. I hope that we will still have the necessary resources at our disposal in the future, so we can fulfill our function of preservation and so we can continue these tasks.
BuB, 2010, 09, p.589
Jörg Räuber, Head of Department Consultation, Archiving and Holdings Conservation – German National Library Leipzig
Scientific Research regarding sustainability of mass deacidification in the context of the KUR program for the preservation and restauration of movable cultural assets confirmed the increase of the life expectancy of books as a result of the applied deacidification method.
Although the own expense should not be disregarded, as PAL offers professional preparation measures all emerging questions and problems will be settled immediately, so that from a logistical point of view there is a only a minimal interference of the library routine. An important factor to still guarantee the status of the holdings conservation will be to secure the provision of necessary resources to preserve the media.
BuB 2013, 09, p.181