Can chemistry save our libraries?

Three out of every four books in Europe’s libraries are printed on acidic paper that isn’t expected to last another century. That’s the message heard by delegates at the IUPAC World Chemistry Congress in Turin, Italy, this week, who were asked: can analytical chemistry rescue our written heritage?
A further problem faced by conservators is an acidic, transition metal-based ink called iron gall ink, unfortunately used by Leonardo da Vinci, Johann Sebastian Bach, Victor Hugo and Galileo Galilei, said Strlic. In addition to the acidity, the metals in this ink are effective oxidation catalysts, which further accelerate the breakdown of the cellulose.