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Microfilm has vinegar smell! (3 messages) SERIALST Moderator 16 Jul 2007 21:11 UTC

3 messages:

Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2007 15:27:10 -0400
From: "Sadowski, Frank" <>
Subject: RE: [SERIALST] Microfilm has vinegar smell!


Someone else can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that's diazo
film.  The "infection" will not spread, but it will corrode your
cabinets.  Take the reels out of the cabinets unless you want the
cabinets to become quite rusty. We inherited a cabinet which has two
nastily rusty looking drawers due to this film.

It's been years since I studied the problem, but I think it will also
deteriorate the boxes in which they're stored.  And I believe the films
will become less readable over time.

IMHO the best thing you can do is to have them copied to silver film.  I
don't think they'll ever entirely lose the odor, and housing them as
they are is a problem.
Frank E. Sadowski Jr.
Principal Cataloger
River Campus Libraries
University of Rochester
Rochester, NY 14627-0055

(585) 275-4496

-----Original Message-----
From: SERIALST: Serials in Libraries Discussion Forum
[mailto:SERIALST@LIST.UVM.EDU] On Behalf Of Kate Hood
Sent: Monday, July 16, 2007 2:52 PM
Subject: [SERIALST] Microfilm has vinegar smell!

What are your experiences with "vinegar syndrome"?  We have just
discovered it in some of our microfilm.

Questions I have:

1)  How urgent is it to have the film copied once the smell is first
detected?  (It is old film of our Greensboro newspaper, and the public
library - not our library, is the permanent depository.)

2)  Can the "infected" reels be isolated in drawers, or does it spread
from drawer to drawer?  We have noticed it in certain types of boxes only.

Thanks for any information you can supply.

Kate Hood
Library Associate for Serials and Binding
Guilford College, Serials Library
5800 W. Friendly Ave.
Greensboro, NC  27410
336-316-2362; 336-316-2449 fax

Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2007 15:22:37 -0400
From: "Stone, Evalyn" <>
Subject: RE: [SERIALST] Microfilm has vinegar smell!

>>From the Heritage Microfilm Co.

"Most microfilm created prior to 1980 has a backing made of acetate
plastic. These acetate films are subject to an additional kind of
degradation called "vinegar syndrome". All master microfilm created today
uses a polyester plastic backing. Under proper storage conditions, today's
film has a 500 year Life Expectance (LE). The older acetate films have no
more than a 100 year LE. Since some of this film is now over 60 years old,
we are beginning to see more and more vinegar syndrome degradation.

When the backing on acetate films begins to degrade it releases acetic
acid. This is exactly the kind of acid that makes vinegar smell and taste
like vinegar. The release of the acid into the air in the film's canister
begins a rapidly accelerating process of film degradation that can only be
stopped by duplication onto modern polyester backed film."

Please note that this was a convenient place to find the information - I
have not used this company and know nothing else about them.

Evalyn Stone
Serials Librarian, Thomas J. Watson Library
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10028-0198
tel: 212/ 650-2446      fax: 212/ 570-3847

Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2007 16:01:12 -0400
From: "Mitchell, Meg" <>
Subject: RE: [SERIALST] Microfilm has vinegar smell!

The cellulose breaking down gives off acid which (along with humidity)
you don't want near your "clean" film. Here is technical info right from
the film people if you need to prove your point.
Wood and plastic can be highly acidic

Solinet is a great source of information on preservation. Lots of links
to suppliers and other sources of info

My sympathy

Margaret Mitchell
Print Collection Librarian
Logue Library
Chestnut Hill College
215 248-7073