Ink Bleed

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    • #133281
      Sofie Grant

      I work in a law lirary where we have a large quantity of self-published works from other organizations. They generally date from 1980 to present. I’ve noted that some of our older volumes (1980-1995) have started bleeding ink from one page to another (see photograph). The little that I’ve found on this suggests that it’s caused by poor paper and ink quality, but I’d like to verify whether anything else may be at fault. We admittedly don’t have great environmental control, so this may also be a factor. Any suggestions of what is causing this would be very much appreciated.

    • #133283
      Carolyn Frisa

      Hi Sofie,

      It seems likely that high humidity levels may be accelerating the chemical process that is causing the ink to bleed and offset onto the previous page. If there is room in the comb bindings, it might not be a bad idea to interleave the pages with a material like a lightweight interleaving paper or glassine. These could then be changed out periodically if needed, and at least the offsetting wouldn’t disfigure the previous page, potentially making legibility more difficult. If there are any measures you can take to control the environment, this should be done ASAP. Even installing an inexpensive digital RH and temp reader would be better than nothing. You could then collect the data on a daily basis and use this to help formulate a plan to control the humidity by installing a dehumidifier if high humidity is indeed a culprit.

      It may also be that the toner used when they were copied is chemically unstable in the first place. I have worked on some documents from this time period, and they tend to have inconsistent inherent condition issues. I am sure this is only the beginning of the problems we paper conservators will face in the coming decades when dealing with these materials.

      One other thought – perhaps it would be a good idea to go ahead and make new copies (both digital and print), so you will be able to retain as much existing information as possible. Printer inks have come a long way and I would recommend you print on a paper such as PermaLife to ensure maximum stability of the paper.

      Hope that helps!

    • #133282
      Sofie Grant

      Thank you for the incredibly speedy and detailed response, Carolyn. I’m going to be attending a preservation grant writing workshop soon, so knowing this in advance of the workshop and the collection anaylsis that will likely follow is incredibly helpful. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge.

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