In the 1960s the Library of Congress and the National Archives recognized a serious preservation concern in the library and archival world, the deterioration of printed material due to the volatile acids found in paper, what conservations refer to as inherent vice. The two institutions took world leadership in searching for a solution to this problem, and set out to engineer and develop current methods and ideas.
By the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Library of Congress’ preservation directorate had determined that diethylzinc was the most feasible potential deacidification treatment. They partnered with several companies to test out different deacidification processes, and found each one not suitable for use in their collections for various reasons.
While the Library of Congress was performing preliminary testing, the Koppers Corporation of Pittsburgh was working with the University of California, Berkeley to develop a non-aqueous, magnesium oxide suspension system that received its first patents in the mid-1980s. The Koppers process (later to be known as Bookkeeper), was licensed by Richard Spatz, a retired Koppers executive. When three large corporations failed to meet the Library of Congress’ specifications, they approached Mr. Spatz, and arranged to have a small test using the chemistry developed by Koppers. The Library found that the Koppers process held great promise. With strong encouragement from the Library, Mr. Spatz and his partner, Mr. Randall Russell Jr., formed Preservation Technologies, L.P. in 1992 and registered the name Bookkeeper to apply to the process. The formative mission of the company was to meet the deacidification needs of the Library and other research libraries and archives throughout world.