Title: News from the Preservation Office
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00083040/00020
 Material Information
Title: News from the Preservation Office
Physical Description: Book
Creator: University of Florida Libraries. Preservation Office.
Publisher: University of Florida Libraries
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00083040
Volume ID: VID00020
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text

Cleaning Frenzy!
"Have you ever sniffed air-plane glue? Gets you high as a chimney swift
in an insect cloud!" He exclaimed, his fingers reaching toward his lips as
if attempting to moor his words to the body from which they flew. "But,
it doesn't do a thing for you." This was the man, let's call him XT, who
taught me conservation early in my career. XT was known in the field as
the "father of kitchen chemistry." One could argue with his methods, but
he made conservation as popular as Louisiana chefs on early-morning
weekend TV have made Cajun cooking. "If you're gonna learn how to put
'em back together," he advised new apprentices, "you have to learn to rip
'em apart first." In a macabre way, it made as much sense as a medical
student dissecting a cadaver. But, this story isn't about anatomy, it's
about cleaning frenzy.

Someone recently sent me a box containing a can of Bada Furniture
Polish, no doubt lifted secretly from a housekeeping staff cart. The slogan
on the can promised to "dust, clean and shine," to "remove smudges,
smears, fingerprints and water stains." The note in the box read, "should
our bookshelves (& Books) be polished with this stuff?" XT might have
answered the question, "nevei wash an elephant with a hose when its
trunk will do." Let me translate ...

The answer is found as much in knowing how to clean a bookshelf as in
knowing what the chemicals in the can will do. Here are some guidelines
which I will communicate to housekeeping staff with the assistance of the
Facilities Planning Office.


* Whenever possible, use dry cheese-cloth or other loose woven fabric
to clean shelves supporting library materials.
* When they must be used, cleaning sprays/liquids should be applied
lightly to a wipe-cloth, never directly to the bookshelf unless the shelf is
* Cleaning sprays/liquids should not contain acids, ammonia, bleach,
or oils. A simple solution of 50% to 80% rubbing alcohol and water
dispensed from a mister into the wipe-cloth is a handy and affordable

These are simple precautions. Cleaning sprays/liquids may damage
library materials they contact. Applying the cleaning fluid directly to the
shelf or saturating the wipe-cloth may result in accidental damage -even
accidental spraying of books; these guidelines are designed to avoid
accidents. Cleaning fluids and polishes containing oils, though capable of
producing fresh smells and great shines, may stain materials and make
mold or mildew growth on them more viable. Remember that cleaning
fluids and polishes containing oils leave residues which will contact
volumes when they are removed from the shelves. It is important, by the
way, to clean bookshelves. Dust contains particulates which will be
stirred back into the air when volumes are removed from shelves; and
these particulates may either damage library materials or support some
types of insect or mold/mildew growth.

XT would have pondered the necessity of using Bada Furniture Polish.
"Is it just air-plane glue?" He might have demanded of me with the
electricity of an anti-drug slogan. "Does it make you feel good," he would
have persisted, "but do nothing for you?" That's the question. What does
it do?
continued on next page

SBada Company never answers its telephone nor, apparently, its mail;
nor does it list the chemicals contained in the can on the can. (Isn't there a
chemical disclosure law?) Despite this set back, I've been able to determine
that Bada Furniture Polish is primarily ethyl alcohol with minute oil
residues. (More specific information will be forthcoming when the Bada
Company answers its telephone or mail.) Since we do not know exactly what
the oil residues are or how much of them there are in the polish, we can say
neither what kind of damage or how damaging the polish may be to library

Various types of alcohol are components of some of the chemical compounds
used in conservation. Alcohols are found in our deacidification spray and
synthetic glue, as well as the solution of OPP we use to clean mildew from
books. Sometimes, we use alcohol to separate pasted pages inscribed with
water soluble inks. On the whole, it acts as a solvent and dispersant for
mixing chemicals. Because it evaporates so quickly and so completely, it does
little harm to library materials. "Was the wicked Witch of the West water
soluble?" XT would have deliberated like a teacher taking the mystery out of
Oz. "Use alcohol!" In Bada Furniture Polish, alcohol probably serves to
dissolve oils used for polishing and other chemicals used for cleaning. The
alcohol, itself, presents little risk to library materials, though it may contrib-
ute to damage over a period of continuing, direct exposure.

All things considered, I would not use Bada Furniture Polish or any
commercially available cleaning spray/liquid. I would use the alternative
described above. This "wisdom," however, has little to do with supply
procurement. Housekeeping staff may not be able to switch to that
alternative. Until Housekeeping can switch, we'll concentrate upon the
application. If you see staff spraying shelves supporting books, don't assume
that they are being expedient, kindly ask that they lightly spray the wipe-
cloth instead. Thanks!
-Erich Kesse

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