Important legal notice
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Cultural heritage
Cultural heritage - Conserving our common legato
“Assessing deacidification treatments that can prevent the decay of Europe’s print heritage.”

The problem

Paper production technologies that emerged in the 19th century contained a hidden menace which is now causing considerable problems for the world’s libraries, archives and museums. The use of certain chemicals in the production process has caused a pH shift in paper, making it more acidic. Unfortunately, the high levels of acidity are eating away books and documents, making them brittle and in need of urgent treatment. The scale of the problem is huge: for example, 70% of libraries and archives surveyed in the UK and Ireland said that acid deterioration was a significant problem for their collections.

PaperTreat  The ‘acid test’ that could save Europe’s books and documents


The PaperTreat project will develop model materials and methodologies that will help to evaluate the various deacidification treatments that are available to protect paper products.

The project will also:

  • Provide a comprehensive comparison of new and traditional treatments
  • Develop useful quality control procedures
  • Address the environmental and health aspects of using deacidification treatments
  • Provide costings for using the different treatments

The project should encourage European institutions to make greater use of deacidification treatments. The results will also help conservators decide which treatments work best in different situations.

Contribution to policy development:

  • The project supports EU policies which stress the importance of preserving and enhancing cultural heritage.
  • Through evaluating the environmental and health aspects of traditional and new deacidification techniques, the project will contribute to healthier environment, in accordance with the Clean Air for Europe programme.
  • PaperTreat supports the international co-operation objectives of the EU, thanks in particular to the Russian State Library’s participation in the project.

Project deliverables

  • Defining relevant material found in archives and libraries, such as paper composition, PH values, inks etc. – July 2006
  • Database showing the effects of deacidification treatments on various books and model paper samples – July 2007
  • Report on light stability and increased lifespans of treated material – October 2007
  • Health safety guidelines – October 2007
  • Guidelines on best treatment options and report on standard quality control procedures and cost of treatments – January 2008


  • Project book, along with a CD containing a “pictorial damage atlas” – July 2008
  • Conference and workshop, to be held in Ljubljana, Slovenia – July 2008
  • A website to present project findings to both scientists and non-specialists – ongoing

Technical information

Project acronym: PaperTreat
Project’s official full title: Evaluation of mass deacidification processes
Research priority: 3.6.The protection of cultural heritage and associated conservation strategies
Specific webpage:
Proposal/contract no: 6584
Start date: 1 August 2005
Kick off meeting: 12 September 2005
Completion date: August 2008
European Commission scientific officer: Michel Chapuis, and Ellen Schraudolph,

Name: Narodna in univerzitetna knjiznica
Abbreviated name: NUK
Address: Turjaska 1
Country: Slovenia
Tel: +386 1 2001 110
Fax: +386 1 4257 293


Name: Univerza v Ljubljani
Abbreviated name: UNI-LJ
Country: Slovenia

Name: Uniwersytet Jagiellonski
Abbreviated name: UNIJAG
Country: Poland 

Name: TNO
Abbreviated name: TNO
Country: The Netherlands     

Name: Nationaal Archief
Abbreviated name: NA
Country: The Netherlands

Name: The British Library
Abbreviated name: BL
Country: United Kingdom 

Name: National Archives
Abbreviated name: RA
Country: Sweden 

Name: European Commission on Preservation and Access
Abbreviated name: ECPA
Country: The Netherlands 

Name: Russian State Library
Abbreviated name: RSL
Country: Russia 

Name: Slovak National Archives
Abbreviated name: SNA
Country: Slovakia 

Name: Bibliothèque nationale de France
Abbreviated name: BnF
Country: France 

Name: Koninklijke Bibliotheek
Abbreviated name: KB
Country: The Netherlands