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Special Collections and Archives: A History of Pullen Library: Preservation of the Library's Research Materials

This guide highlights the history of Pullen Library up to the 1990s. It is based on an exhibit celebrating the opening of Library South in 1987 and the acquisition of the millionth book.

Preservation of the Library's Research Materials

The task of keeping books, manuscripts, and other materials in usable condition is made more difficult by the very nature of modern paper.

Paper made before 1850 was produced using rags and animal glue. Rag paper sized with animal glue is still flexible after more than 150 years, as can be seen from this book.


Francis Moore, A Voyage to Georgia. Begun in the Year 1735 . . . (London: Jacob Robinson, 1744).
GSU Pullen Library, Special Collections Department, Rare Books Collection.


Paper produced after 1850, however, is most commonly manufactured using wood pulp (which contains lignin) and alum-rosin sizing. The use of wood pulp or alum and rosin results in highly acidic paper, which becomes dark-colored and brittle in a very short period of time.

This book, published in 1965, has already become embrittled along the page edges.


In a few years, deterioration of the paper will become so severe that pages crumble and break with each turn.

The book was published in Germany about 1945.

Special Collections and Archives

Special Collections and Archives

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Phone: (404) 413-2880
Fax: (404) 413-2881
E-Mail: archives@gsu.edu

Mailing Address:
Special Collections & Archives
Georgia State University Library
100 Decatur Street, SE
Atlanta, Georgia 30303-3202

In Person:
Library South, 8th floor

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