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Progress in Monitoring Pub. L. 101-423

Final Report to Congress on the Joint Resolution to Establish a National Policy on Permanent Papers

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In addition to advising and assisting the Federal community, the monitoring agencies are communicating with all those who have a part in making Pub. L.101-423 work. In 1994, the Librarian of Congress, Acting Archivist of the United States, and Public Printer sent each State Governor the "Second Report to Congress on the Joint Resolution to Establish a National Policy on Permanent Papers" to acquaint them directly with the law's agenda and encourage their participation (Appendix 6). Recently, the Archivist sent NARA Bulletin No. 95-7 and information on accessing this and other Federal records guidance via Internet to each State Governor, archivist, and records officer as a model for State and local action.

Efforts of the monitoring agencies have been strengthened by other Federal components in addition to the Joint Committee on Printing (JCP) and GSA mentioned throughout this report. The National Library of Medicine (NLM) sponsored a Permanent Paper Task Force from 1987 to 1991 to advance the use of alkaline-based paper for biomedical literature. When the task force began, only 4 percent of 3,000 journals indexed by NLM were on alkaline paper. This figure rose to 91 percent by April 1995 (National Library of Medicine, 1995). The Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Smithsonian Institution, and other Government agencies have participated in meetings concerned with the quality of paper for Federal records, including the September 28, 1994, meeting of the NARA Advisory Committee on Preservation. Also the National Endowment for the Humanities and National Historical Publications and Records Commission, which fund public and private projects in support of our Nation's documentary heritage, mandate the use of permanent and alkaline papers for documentary materials and additionally maximize their longevity by prescribing appropriate storage materials and conditions.

State and local

As noted in the 1993 report to Congress, immediately following the passage of Pub. L. 101-423 several States established legislation and administrative provisions for State and local government use of permanent paper for public records. Following this initial breakthrough, the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS) distributed mailings about Pub. L. 101-423 to each State Governor in 1991, 1992, and 1995. These mailings inquired about States' progress. Results from the first inquiry were published in the Congressional Record (July 22, 1991, p. S10550) and have since been reported in both the library and archives professional literature.

The 1995 survey is continuing and participation has been encouraged by the Archivist of the United States with his letter (previously mentioned). In addition, the Council of State Historical Records Coordinators' upcoming 1996 report on conditions and concerns in State archives and records programs will focus attention on State permanent paper initiatives using information provided by the National Association for Government Archives and Records Administrators (NAGARA).

States that have developed legislation or administrative policy on permanent paper include: Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Some States are working to establish or strengthen provisions in response to opportunities afforded by a decrease in comparative cost and an increase in the availability of permanent papers. This progress is significant and laudable. However, it remains that over half of the States have yet to establish a permanent paper policy.


The private sector role was pivotal in establishing Pub. L. 101-423 and has continued to be instrumental in its implementation as a partner to the Federal Government. This important relationship was underscored when Senator Claiborne Pell (D-RI) and Congressman Sidney Yates (D-IL) were awarded the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works highest honor, the Forbes Medal, for their many years of distinguished service to the conservation of cultural property, including Senator Pell's sponsorship of Pub. L. 101-423, a sponsorship shared by 48 Congressional legislators.

National and international organizations associated with the information, history, science, and cultural resource community, including the American Library Association (ALA), Association of American Publishers (AAP), Society of American Archivists (SAA), National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators (NAGARA), International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), and the International Council on Archives (ICA) have issued statements to support Pub. L. 101-423 as well as taking steps to promote it. For example, the American Library Association (ALA) distributes a poster and bookmark fostering permanent paper awareness.


Information, be it paper or electronic, is an international enterprise. As discussed elsewhere in this report, many nations have long been active participants in paper quality concerns. Moreover, concurrent with the issuance of Pub. L. 101-423, some have monitored their own progress on permanent paper use for public records and have developed facilitating mandates. In 1990, the Australian Archives, citing Section 5(2) of the 1983 "Archives Act" to ensure preservation of Commonwealth records, issued guidance and a specification for "Permanent Bond Paper for Use in Records" (Australian Archives, 1990).

In 1992, the Communications Minister of Canada announced that government publications "to be retained for information or historical purposes" should be produced on "alkaline-based permanent paper, rather than continuing to use acid paper" (Communications Canada, 1992). Since then, the National Archives of Canada issued Bulletin 94-02, "Policy on the Use of Permanent Paper." Currently, there is a bill pending before the French National Assembly requiring all government documents to be produced on permanent paper. The introduction to this "Proposition de Loi" (National Assembly of France, 1994) begins with the statement that "A nation that loses its cultural heritage loses it soul." Other nations are also making progress. Japan and Hungary, for example, are among countries in which most paper mills have been converted to an alkaline process.

Likewise, the paper manufacturing and printing industry have promoted awareness and utility of permanent paper products and services. For example, the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry 1994 Papermakers Conference featured more sessions on alkaline paper than ever before. Also, there is a paper mill that now has an "alkaline hotline" to answer questions about their new permanent and alkaline papers. Most callers, who are printers and convertors, receive a free pH testing pen and brochure with tips on using alkaline papers.

Within the last 5 years, well over 100 articles on permanent and alkaline papers have appeared in national publications. The New York Times, Scientific American and many other well-known periodicals have educated the public at large while professional publications such as the Commission on Preservation and Access Newsletter, Alkaline Paper Advocate, and Instant & Small Commercial Printer have been a conduit among specialists. Grassroots interest has been vigorous as well. Local newspapers, community libraries, and historical societies have not only written about permanent paper as a global issue, but have also helped citizens learn how to purchase such papers for their own family documents.

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