Stabilization of brittle newspaper pages

Funded through the KUR – Programme for the Conservation of Moveable Cultural Assets

Newspapers have been produced with wood-pulp since the mid-19th century. Although wood-pulp paper is ideal for mass production, it has proven quite unstable over time. The acids in the pulp cause the paper to yellow, lose integrity and become so brittle it can no longer be handled – a problem for many libraries, museums and archives which wish to keep their collections open to scientific research.
Several methods are commonly used to neutralize the acidity in acid-damaged books. However, there was no technology available to stabilize heavily damaged, large-format newspaper pages at a reasonable cost. Such measures are necessary so that the brittle pages can be digitalized and the information on them preserved for the long term. This project worked on an innovative approach that stabilizes highly brittle paper. The conservators first laminated the newspaper folios in order to photograph and/or digitalize them. The goal of the project was to develop a practical, cost-effective method to stabilize newspapers en masse.

Project administrator:
Berlin State Library – Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz

Cooperative partners:
Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research, Potsdam
Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design


Carola Pohlmann

Acting Director of the newspaper department

Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz

Westhafenstraße 1

13353 Berlin

Tel.: +49 (0)30 266 436400

Fax: +49 30 266 436299 (external link, opens in a new window)