Old university publications of the TU Ilmenau sustainably preserved

After only four months, the conservation work of the collection of university theses of the TU Ilmenau was completed. A total of 6,500 dissertations and post-doctoral theses written at the Ilmenau School for Electrical Engineering, the predecessor of the TU Ilmenau, between 1953 and 1992 could thus be secured for the long term. Last year, the TU Ilmenau library received 130,000 euros in funding from the federal government and the state of Thuringia for the restoration and conservation work.

In September 2020, the TU Ilmenau had awarded the contract for the restoration of the 6,500 dissertations and postdoctoral theses to a specialist company, specialized in deacidification processes of wood-containing paper. Not all of the publications were bound works; a large proportion were in the form of scrapbooks of individual sheets, while others were large-format writings, collections of photographs or publications on special papers and microfilms.

Before the writings could be restored, they first had to be sifted and cleaned. In an elaborate process, metal staples were then removed, missing parts and tears closed and pages smoothed. All publications that consisted of single leaves were bound in covers or booklets. Material that was not suitable for binding was stored in specially made cassettes.

The preservation of some of the university publications proved particularly problematic. The use of groundwood pulp as a raw material in paper production, which was common since industrial production until 1990, introduced a so-called acid sizing into the paper. In the long run, however, this acid led to the dreaded acid corrosion: the paper turns yellow, becomes brittle and disintegrates. The endangered writings of the TU Ilmenau therefore had to be subjected to a deacidification process for their lasting preservation. The environmentally friendly method neutralises the acid and thus stops the decay of the paper. Recently, the collection of university publications of the Ilmenau University of Technology has been returned to its place in the university library.

The realization of the project was made possible by funding from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media and the Koordinierungsstelle für die Erhaltung des schriftlichen Kulturguts (www.kek-spk.de).

Gerhard Vogt
Director University Library
Tel.: +49 3677 69-4701
Mail: gerhard.vogt@tu-ilmenau.de