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

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With this report, the Librarian of Congress, Archivist of the United States, and the Public Printer have completed their mandate to monitor the progress of the Federal Government in implementing Pub. L. 101-423 and to report such progress to the Congress. As this report shows, the establishment by the Congress of a policy on the use of permanent paper for Federal records of long-term value has had an important and far-reaching impact.

When Senator Claiborne Pell (D-RI) brought S.J.Res. 57 - A National Policy on Permanent Paper - to a vote in 1990, he stated, "... this resolution reflects a growing concern about the impending loss of an enormous volume of our historical, cultural, and scientific records because of the self-destruction of the acidic papers in which books and other publications have been printed since the mid-nineteenth century." He emphasized the fundamental importance of a public policy on permanent paper and said, "Every book produced on acid free paper today reduces the total number of volumes requiring deacidification, and frees up preservation resources which can be used to attack the crumbling backlog of publications dating back to 1850."

Even as we enter the electronic age on our way into the 21st century, the legacy of acidic paper from the 19th Century still threatens the survival of our cultural heritage, and efforts to preserve existing collections still exceed the $100 million dollar cost Senator Pell cited. The production and use of alkaline and permanent papers on a worldwide basis is the only sure way of stemming the tide of brittle paper records flooding government offices, libraries, and archives of this Nation.

Although much has been accomplished since Pub. L. 101-423 was signed in October 1990, important work remains to be done. For example, GPO's Standard Form 1, Printing and Binding Requisition, should be revised to enable designation of an alkaline option on agency printing requests. Also, appropriate labeling by paper suppliers of alkaline and permanent papers should be assured; continuing education programs about the use of permanent paper should be developed; and information about the procurement of alkaline and permanent papers should be distributed. Further, LC and NARA will continue to contribute to the important research being conducted by ASTM and will ensure that it is observed closely and reported widely.

Thus, although this report marks the end of our responsibilities as set forth in Pub. L. 101-423, the Librarian of Congress, Archivist of the United States, and the Public Printer agree to continue, on an ad hoc basis, monitoring the progress of the Government's permanent paper policy.

Continue to Appendix 1: Public Law 101-423

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