Sustainability of mass de-acidification of library collections

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

Since wood pulp replaced textile fibres, the processing methods and sizing agents used in paper-making has resulted in acidity that deteriorates the paper with time. “Mass de-acidification” is a process used by libraries and archives since the 1990s which involves neutralizing the acids contained in the paper and creating an alkaline reserve to prevent further damage.
Based on the collections at the German National Library and the Berlin State Library, which underwent acid neutralization between 1994 and 2006 and between 1998 and 2006 respectively, the KUR project scientifically investigated and evaluated the long-term success of the treatment and the sustainability of mass de-acidification.
The results of this basic research will help libraries and archives make future decision when it comes to de-acidifying their collections. In addition to evaluating previous de-acidification measures, the project also examined innovative methods to investigate the chemical processes involved in the decay of paper.

Project administrator:
German National Library, Frankfurt am Main and Leipzig

Cooperative partners:
Berlin State Library – Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz
University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences of Vienna, Chemistry Department
Swiss National Library, Berne


Thomas Jaeger

Deutsche Nationalbibliothek

Adickesallee 1

60322 Frankfurt am Main (external link, opens in a new window)