Lincoln Cushing - February 2000, not updated
"Call for Papers"
Libraries in some form have been the central repositories of culture and knowledge ever since words were recorded. Originally serving church and state, their holdings took on a new dimension with the birth of modern democratic republics in the 1700's, and were even further transformed with the evolution of truly publicly-accessible libraries at the beginning of the 1900's.› If knowledge is power, books are the batteries. And, like batteries, many books are chemical time bombs.
The paper used to print books is the culprit. Modern industrial papermaking is based on a raw material that is both archivally unstable and environmentally destructive.› This paper summarizes the papermaking process, describes its impact on libraries, reviews the response from the library community, and suggests future directions for change.
Modern Industrial Papermaking
Gutenberg's successful commercialization of movable type precipitated the need for cellulose-based paper as we know it. Paper manufactured from the mid-1400's to the 1800's was made from pulping linen (flax) and canvas (hemp) rags, which were replaced by cotton rags, which became available as a result of the cotton gin in 1794.  › As demand for paper rose, the pulping of rags proved to be an inadequate and expensive source of fiber, and processes for creating paper pulp directly from trees became the dominant method after the 1850's.› The first machine for grinding wood to pulp was patented in 1844  , and Henry Voelter patented an improved version in the United States in 1858.
It is much more difficult to make paper with pulp from wood (known as chemical pulp or groundwood, depending on the process used) than with rags.› First, the raw material has distinct disadvantages. The cellulose content of most wood is about 50% by weight, almost half that of rags. As much as 30% of the balance is a material called lignin, a cell structure component. This is what causes wood-based papers to yellow and deteriorate when exposed to light.  An elaborate series of steps is necessary to mechanically and chemically break down the rigid source material into usable pulp, and further processes are needed to render that pulp satisfactorily white and smooth enough for printing. Wood pulp was attractive because it lent itself to a more mechanized processing and took advantage of a cheap and plentiful supply of virgin raw materials. This new papermaking approach was quite cost-effective, and dramatically reduced to cost of paper. In the United States in the 1860's paper was about 25Ę per pound, and by 1897 it was as low as 2Ę. 
There are two primary methods used to produce wood pulp.› Chemical pulping with sulphate, known as kraft pulping, involves boiling wood chips with caustic soda.› This results in a relatively strong-fiber pulp, and is used in approximately 77% of paper production  (43% bleached softwood kraft, 28% bleached hardwood kraft, 6% unbleached kraft). This is used for cardboard and printing paper. Sulphite pulp accounts for less than 8% of pulp processing, requires boiling in sulphuric acid, and results in a weaker, whiter pulp, mostly used in tissue papers. These processes use huge amounts of fresh water (papermaking requires more water per ton than any other product in the world  and highly-toxic chemicals.›
The tradeoff emerged between paper that was cheap versus paper that was archivally stable.
Consequences for libraries
The emergent dominance of groundwood-based papers created a nightmare for librarians.› These papers were inferior in almost every way to the animal-skin vellum and rag-based papers previously used for book production.› By the mid-19th century it became apparent that the new materials simply could not hold up over time.› Large numbers of books began to crumble, yellow, and fall apart in the stacks.› The problem was not only the acidic nature of the paper - many early papers made from rag were acidic as well - but also it was the acidity coupled with the short cellulose fibers.› Long, unbroken fibers are inherently more resistant to chemical penetration, and wood fibers - especially after the introduction of the Hollander Beater method for pulping - are particularly vulnerable to corrosion.
The dark side of cheap paper had reared its ugly head, and eventually librarians responded.
In 1990 the American Library Association (ALA) appointed a President's Committee on Preservation Policy.› Its charge was to "draft policies that outline explicitly the responsibilities of the library profession for the preservation of library materials of all types in order to guarantee access to the information they contain, both for the current generation of library users and for generations to come".  ›› The ALA's official position is that "manufacturers, publishers, and purchasers of information media must address the usability, durability, and longevity of those products." The Policy suggests that the federal government must provide leadership in developing a more expansive and inclusive national preservation policy in terms of both programs and funding. It also affirms that absent such official national and international standards, the ALA urges publishers to use paper meeting standards promulgated by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) for "all publications of enduring value." 
The new archival standards
The standards that the ALA refers to are currently known as ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1997, "American National Standard for Permanence of Paper for Publications and Documents in Libraries and Archives", the successor to earlier ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992, "Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials" and ANSI Z39.48-1984.› These are "voluntary consensus standards", codified agreements between interested parties and dependent on the willing compliance of strangers.› A summary of the standards provides these specifications for coated and uncoated stocks:
It is interesting to note that these standards are not readily available public information. The full standard, "Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials", is a copyrighted publication, and costs $30.  › It is also significant that no standard for fiber length is included.
Another standards organization, the International Organization for Standardization also produced a set of guidelines in 1993, "ISO 9706 -Information and Documentation - Paper for Documents - Requirements for Permanence".› Its specifications closely follow those of the ANSI/NISO set, with slight differences for tear resistance and maximum Kappa number (5 rather than 7).  The ISO standards have been accepted as the European Norm, compulsory for all European countries.
There has been a gradual cross-Atlantic convergence of methods and standards, exemplified by the ISO adoption of "the NISO symbol", an infinity symbol set inside a circle, as representing essentially the same set of technical specifications. 
A fourth organization, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has produced four standards for permanent office papers since the mid-1970's.› Unlike the other, more universally adopted standards with a single threshold of acceptability, the ASTM standards define three levels of permanence, with minimum pH values ranging from 5.5 to 7.5.
Responses to the problem
Several other approaches emerged to stem the flow of archivally-unstable papers.› These included advocacy, State legislation, and Federal legislation.
The organization primarily committed to improving the situation for libraries and archives was the Alkaline Paper Advocate (1988-1997), which under the leadership of Ellen McCrady published a monthly newsletter promoting archival paper.
The ALA's Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS) Preservation and Reformatting Section (PARS, formerly the Preservation of Library Materials Section) is involved with public relations and outreach on the topic. One of their targeted "areas of action" is public relations and outreach, which includes efforts to highlight the impermanence of contemporary primary source documents and to include preservation in National Library and Banned Books Week under the concept that "deterioration as a form of censorship"  ›
Two other change agents include the ALA's Legislation Committee  and The Commission on Preservation and Access.
2. State legislation
Starting in the late 1980's, several states enacted laws aimed at requiring the use of acid-free, alkaline-based or permanent type papers to be used in the production of certain state publications. These include AZ, CO, CT, FL, IL, IN, KA, KY, MA, MO, MT, NE, NE, NM, NC, RI, SD, TN, VA, WA, WV, and WI  ; legislation has been pending in DE, MN, NY, SC, UT, and VT.› It should be noted that governor Pataki vetoed this in New York in 1995 because it was believed that "the proposed bill would establish a preferred method of recordkeeping which fails to recognize the necessity and validity of electronic storage of State records."  › This perceived tradeoff, between preserving old media and promoting the new, is one of the uphill policy battles faced by conservationists.
3. Federal legislation and regulation
In October of 1990 Public Law 101-423 was passed, "A Joint Resolution to Establish a National Policy on Permanent Papers (Section 3)" It stated that "The Library of Congress, the Archivist of the United States, and the Public Printer shall jointly monitor the Federal Government's progress in implementing the national policy÷regarding acid free permanent papers and shall report to the Congress regarding such progress on December 31, 1991, December 31, 1993, and December 31, 1995"  .›
Interestingly enough, the most significant factors contributing to improved paper permanence were two key environmental regulations. In 1993 the Environmental Protection Agency issued CFR430› "Pulp, Paper, and Paperboard Point Source Category", a regulation intended to reduce toxic emissions from paper mills and requiring them to convert from acid to alkaline processes.› A year later Executive Order 12873 "Federal Acquisition, Recycling, and Waste Prevention" was signed which set minimum content standards for postconsumer recovered materials to 20% as of December 1994 and 30% as of December 1998.› These two laws resulted in the greatest change in the practice of papermaking since the continuous-feed Fourndrinier machine was invented.
The current situation
At present, libraries and archives have achieved a sort of equilibrium.› The quality of some papers has improved to some degree. A few studies have been conducted to quantify the changes, most notably one by staff in the preservation Department of Northwestern University Library in 1995, which found that 89% of new acquisitions tested for pH were printed on acid-free paper. The study also found that 30% of softcover acquisitions were acid-free, and also noted that Z39.48 compliance self-reporting by presses was very erratic.  › U.C. Berkeley's own assessment is that only approximately 50% of new book acquisitions are alkaline, and most popular press materials have not improved.  › One consideration in assessing when and how to intervene is the non-linear timetable of document deterioration.
The above chart is an approximation of document decay.› Although different documents stored under different circumstances would result in a shorter or longer time scale, the chemical and physical processes affecting fiber deterioration are not linear.› From a conservation standpoint, documents that have already reached a certain point (the last third of their life) do not demand urgent measures to halt further deterioration.  With the exception of works identified as particularly important or valuable, the U.C. library copes with document deterioration on a user-driven replacement basis, currently numbering approximately 1,000 books a year. The first option is to look for commercially-available copies in better condition.› The next is to produce photocopies on archival paper. U.C.'s policy is that it is always preferable to keep a document in its original form; books remain as books, merely reproduced on a more stable paper. Only books that are of particular intrinsic value are actually deacidified.
Some members of the library community are relatively optimistic about the situation.› Bobbie Pilette, acting Chief Librarian for Preservation at the Barbara Goldsmith Preservation Division of the New York Public Library, states that "Over the past 15 years there has been a significant increase in the use of alkaline paper in the publication of American, especially North American, and Western European titles.› In fact, it is safe to say that almost all publishers in the U.S. use alkaline paper for book publication."  › Ellen McCrady, Editor of the Alkaline Paper Advocate, the only publication devoted to the issue between 1988 and 1997, stated in the final issue that "Now that most U.S. consumers know they have access to a wide variety of alkaline papers, and now that the historical transition to a new kind of papermaking has been recorded, the ApeŪs mission has been accomplished." 
Other dimensions to the problem
Ultimately, though, archival permanence of virgin-pulp papers meant for use in trade book publishing is only one of several significant issues concerning the mass production of documents.› All of these issues are ultimately interrelated, and the progress that has been accomplished can in no way be seen as a comprehensive solution to the overall problem. The major remaining issues include, but are not limited to:
1. The political economy of virgin pulp sources
2. Reduction of paper products in the municipal solid waste stream (MSW)
3. Environmental impact of pulping and bleaching processes
4. Methods of printing and their specific uses of different paper types
5. Alternative sources of cellulose pulp
6. Public policy in a private-sector environment
 It is important to remember that these numbers represent trees. One common conversion factor is 17-31 trees per ton of pulp. Of course, the actual relationship is affected by a range of factors, including tree size, species, and type of paper to be manufactured.
The papermaking industry is very large.
Figures from 1997 United States census data
Recently, market consolidation and globalization have been a dominant phenomenon in the paper industry. The largest paper company in the world is International Paper (a U.S. firm), which boasted revenues of $25 billion dollars in 1999. The second-largest worldwide manufacturer is the Finnish corporation Stora Enso, which bought U.S.-based Consolidated Paper in February 2000 for $3.9 billion, resulting in combined sales of $13.2 billion. At about the same time UPM-Kymmene, another Finnish corporation, bought U.S.-based Champion International  .
The economic basis for cutting down native forests to make paper has long been predicated on displaced costs of production. In the early days, forests were simply there for the taking, at no cost beyond the effort to harvest. Vast tracts were purchased at low cost. Later on, land ownership became socialized by the State. Currently some 22% of United States wood harvest comes from public lands. Investigations into the financial relationship between the U.S. Forest Service and the timber industries have concluded that fees for timber sales do not even cover the government's expenses for road-building, reforestation, and other consequential expenditures. According to the Wilderness Society, during FY1990, U.S. taxpayers effectively subsidized the timber harvest from 98 of the 120 national forests in which sales were conducted at a cost to the federal treasury of $257 million.  Although forestry practices vary from company to company, clear-cutting is still a common method used to maximize profits, and many regions - especially in the Pacific Northwest - have suffered significant environmental damage as a result.
2. Paper in the waste stream
Paper in various forms constitutes approximately 40% of the volume (or weight) of material going into U.S. landfills.  This is unfortunate, since paper is a relatively easy material to recycle. The main technical problems associated with recycling paper include the disposal of the de-inking residue and the separation of paper types. As with many other processes, the ability to recycle effectively depends largely on separating high-quality from low-quality material.
The environmental movement started in the early 1970's brought general consumer awareness to the American public about the growing volume of solid waste in this country. By the mid 1980's many major paper companies began introducing papers with "recycled content" as an effort to present an environmentally-benign product. Unfortunately, the lack of adequate labeling standards allowed a wide range of materials to be calculated as "recycled", including sawdust from lumber mills and trimmings from envelope conversion. It was not until further pressure from environmental organizations resulted in Federal labeling standards that defined some level of "postconsumer waste" (material that actually went out into the world and returned through recycling efforts). However, papers meeting the most minimal standards do not represent much more than 7% of U.S. paper produced  . It is helpful to know that the ALA "firmly supports the goal of addressing our nation's solid waste problem by using recycled paper products", as long as that paper complies with Z39.48. 
3. Environmental impact of pulping and bleaching processes
Conventional processes for turning trees into paper require large volumes of toxic and caustic chemicals. Elemental (gaseous) chlorine is the most common compound used to bleach paper pulp (a step required by the presence of lignin in wood pulp) and produces dangerous chemicals such as dioxin, which when released into waterways is a source of carcinogenic pollution. An average of 110 to 176 pounds of chlorine is used to produce a ton of conventionally-produced kraft pulp  . This translates into worldwide usage of over 4.5 million tons a year, accounting for about one-seventh of all industrial chlorine consumption  . Although most U.S. mills use chlorine to bleach paper pulp, there are alternative methods. Several countries in Europe have adopted a method of bleaching pulp using hydrogen peroxide, which is more environmentally benign.
The papermaking industry has not bonded with operating in ways that minimize damage to the environment. One recent example was the Simpson Paper Company's decision to close down their pulp mill near Eureka, California in March of 1992. The plant is located on the Pacific coast, and local surfers had complained of skin rashes and nausea after swimming near the effluent. Simpson argued that the EPA's Clean Water Act did not apply to waste dumped into the ocean, only to freshwater bodies. The surfers sued. The EPA agreed, and fined Simpson $2.9 million and required them to upgrade their plant. Simpson responded by closing down the mill, laying off 262 workers  and eventually moving their operation to Chile, where environmental controls for manufacturing and processing are far less stringent than in the U.S.
Another example of the political clout of manufacturers to challenge state and federal regulations occurred in 1991, when California adopted a set of water quality standards designed to bring the state into compliance with federal requirements. The regulations were immediately challenged in court because of their "adverse economic impact", and were struck down in 1994. It was not until April 2000 that new standards were issued, resulting in several years of California being the only state in the nation without water quality criteria for some of the most dangerous toxics, including the papermaking effluent dioxin. 
Because bleaching has the effect of making wood-based papers more archivally stable by removing lignin, the policy position by conservationists is to support its use. However, a broader view of papermaking that questions the use of trees also makes it possible to challenge the widespread use of chlorine as well.
4. Methods of printing and their specific uses of different paper types
Not all pulp is used for paper that ends up in publications. Figures for 1990 show that the majority of pulp (42%) went into paperboard production, followed by Printing and Writing (29%), Newsprint (15%), and the balance going to Tissue, Packaging, and other materials.  Paper for printing is segmented into two distinct markets - paper for web printing and paper for sheetfed printing. The former is a high-volume process uses paper on giant rolls, usually of relatively low quality (such as the newsprint in newspapers). Sheetfed printing uses cut sheets of stock, and is typical of low and mid-volume production. Most books are produced on sheetfed presses.
It is partly because of the different papers used in different printing processes for different types of publications that only a portion of the total document stream has been upgraded to higher archival standards. Despite the success of efforts to improve the quality of the cream of the crop - books produced primarily for libraries - a vast amount of published, photocopied, and laserprinted material is still going onto paper that has significantly lower archival characteristics.
5. Alternative sources of cellulose pulp
Historically, many sources of cellulose fiber other than trees were used for papermaking. Many of them offer distinct advantages over wood. Some, such as bagasse (crushed sugar cane) are a natural agricultural by-product. Others have excellent qualities for strong long-fiber papers, such as hemp. Some grow very quickly and produce easily-grown biomass for pulping, such as Kenaf, which is exceptionally suitable for papermaking and would most likely be the candidate for a new raw material by the U.S. pulp and paper industry  . In recent years environmental concerns have spawned a renewed interest in these alternative feedstocks.
Some of these crops exhibit remarkable characteristics. Hemp, for example, contains natural compounds that make it totally free of insect pests. Kenaf has a very low lignin content and is composed of an excellent balance of bast (bark) and core that makes the entire stalk suitable for pulping. In some countries nonwood pulp (usually straw or bamboo) is the dominant source; China relies on such sources for over 80% of its paper, other countries include India (61%), Peru (95%), Vietnam (40%), and Egypt (100%). 
The paper industry has responded to U.S. consumer pressure for tree-free alternatives by introducing paper made from bamboo  . Although it is technically a tree-free source, the industry has embraced the production of this material because its hard and brittle physical characteristics allow it to be processed with the same equipment as is used for wood  .
6. Public policy in a private-sector environment
Oddly enough, despite tremendous effort put into improving the environmental impact of papermaking, little information is available about a formal strategy for improving the overall archival quality of paper. One study that shed some light on the subject came from the National Library of Canada, which hired a private consulting firm to look at the "paper chain" (paper producers à paper distributors à printers à publishers à book retailers àbook buyers) to determine the most productive point to effect change. They concluded that although publishers and papermakers would be the place to start, it turned out that printers and paper distributors were extremely important, if not dominant, participants.  Unfortunately, in a private-sector environment, social good and market forces are often travel separate paths.
What are the considerations that affect the choice of paper at the publisher and printshop level? Book printing constitutes only about 5% ($4.4 billion) of the $83.2 billion U.S. printing industry.  Publishing is a business, and some form of cost-benefit analysis occurs when any document is about to be reproduced. The following chart provides some clues as to the range of costs involved in using conventional and "alternative" papers (those with some environmental or archival feature). Other factors being equal, the cost of good-quality archival paper can add approximately 15-20% to the cost of printing a book.
Prices of uncoated book papers (CWT=price per hundredweight, as of 2/2000)
*ECF= Elemental Chlorine Free, meaning bleached with chlorine compounds but without elemental chlorine gas.
**PCF= Processed Chlorine Free, meaning no secondary chlorination
***Totally Chlorine Free, bleached with Hydrogen Peroxide or similar methods
Conclusions and suggestions for further areas of research and advocacy
The historical record of archivally-unstable paper and its consequences is a sorry one, and the sum of the responses that have been mounted to address the problem do not bode well for future battles. The current situation can be compared to applying a band-aid to a seeping wound.
How can the broader spectrum of issues be assembled into a comprehensive strategy? Is it possible to achieve the best of all worlds, where almost all paper documents are archivally-stable and manufactured from environmentally-benign pulp and/or high post-consumer content that are processed without chlorine and other toxic chemicals? More research needs to be done on several issues:
1. Technical limits and workarounds for improving the archival quality of high-postconsumer papers and paper made from high-yield alternative fibers.
2. Policy approaches to encourage transition away from dependence on timber-based pulp manufacturing
3. Strategies for closer collaboration between archival activists and other external constituencies with related interests, such as environmental protection, public health, and globalization of trade.
4. Strategies to assure that efforts to improve paper are in collaboration with, and not in opposition to, broader archival challenges such as digitization and media migration.
5. Methods for increasing the political clout of the library community at the state and national level.
Notes and references
 Fiber Facts, by John Koloski, http://www.toad.net/~koloski/penink.html
 "The Introduction of Wood Pulp to Papermaking after 1844", Alkaline Paper Advocate, October 1997
 Recycled Papers - The Essential Guide, by Claudia G. Thompson, MIT Press, 1992, p.31
 A History of Paper Manufacturing in the United States, 1690-1916, by Weeks, Lyman Horace, 1916
 The Greenpeace Guide to Paper, 1990, pg.10
 Worldwatch news release "Cutting the Costs of Paper: Saving Forests, Water, Energy, and Money", 1990
 Council of the ALA Preservation Policy, adopted June 30, 1991
 Selections from North American Permanent Papers, Ellen McCrady, 1998 http://palimpsest.stanford.edu/byorg/abbey/napp/std.html
 Standards for Permanent Paper by Hoel, Ivar A.L., presented at the 64th IFLA General Conference, August 16-21, 1998
 Report on Implementation of the ALA Preservation Policy, June 1993
 Repeated requests to this body for information on their advocacy efforts have so far been unanswered
 Final Report to Congress on the Joint resolution to Establish a National Policy on Permanent Papers, Alkaline Paper Advocate, July 1996
 "New York's Proposed Law", Alkaline Paper Advocate, October 1996
 Final Report to Congress on the Joint Resolution to Establish a National Policy on Permanent Papers, Alkaline Paper Advocate, July 1996
 "The Acid-Free Paper Pledge Six Years Later", Alkaline Paper Advocate, October 1995
 Interview with Barclay Ogden, Head of the Preservation Department, U.C. Berkeley, 3/23/00
 Chart drawn per an interview with Barclay Ogden, U.C. Berkeley, 3/23/00
 E-mail correspondence 3/2/00
 "This Is The Final Issue", APA Volume 10, Number 4, 1997
 Recycled Papers - The Essential Guide, by Claudia G. Thompson, MIT Press, 1992, p.43
 Worldwatch News release "Cutting the Costs of Paper: Saving Forests, Water, Energy, and Money", 1990
 ReThink Paper, 1999 figures; from Pulp-Non Fiction, Independent Press Association, 1999
 Twenty-five Years of Global Progress in Nonwood Plant Fiber Repulping, Atchison, Joseph, TAPPI Journal October 1996
 News item in business section of San Francisco Chronicle, 2/23/2000
 Recycled Papers (ibid), pg. 65
 ibid, pg.6
 Figures from the American Paper Institute for 1995, as reported in Recycled Papers - The Essential Guide, by Claudia G. Thompson, MIT Press, 1992, p.16
 "Preservation Policy - ALA, 1991
 The Greenpeace Guide to Paper, 1990, pg.13
 ibid, pg.15
 "Simpson Paper Cutting 262 jobs on North Coast", S.F. Chronicle, 12/13/92
 "EPA Sets Limits for Pollutants in State Waters", S.F. Chronicle, 4/12/00.
 ibid, pg. 12
 "Twenty-Five Years of Global Progress in Nonwood Plant Fiber Repulping", by Atchison, Joseph E., TAPPI Journal, October 1996
 "Twenty-Five Years of global Progress in nonwood Plant Fiber Repulping", by Atchison, Joseph E., TAPPI Journal, October 1996
 Rubicon, by Fox River
 As of January 2000, Fox River announced that it was ending production of its bamboo paper, Rubicon.
 "Promoting the Use of Permanent Paper in the Private Sector", Alkaline Paper Advocate, December 1996
 "The U.S. Domestic Printing Industry", Printing Industries of America, 1994
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