We are experiencing the same problems-plus, all CD-ROMs and diskettes are
warped and damaged.
I, too, would be interested in any effort to address this issue.

Diana Smith
Chief, Library & Information Services Unit
(202) 898-3910 (voice)          (202) 898-3984 (fax)
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                -----Original Message-----
                From:   Mohrman, Robert J WRAMC-Wash DC
[mailto:[log in to unmask]]
                Sent:   Thursday, January 10, 2002 3:41 PM
                To:     [log in to unmask]
                Subject:        Irradiation of the mail:  damage to journal

                I'd like to ask if anyone in the Federal Library world is
addressing the
                issue of the damage that
                irradiation of mail does to print products.  The mail we
receive here at the
                Walter Reed Army
                Medical Center is being irradiated, and while I understand
the rationale for
                doing it, it is very
                damaging to a paper product.  Envelopes and their contents
become very
                brittle; the plastic windows
                in envelopes are shriveled, stuck to the contents of the
envelope, or vanish
                entirely.  Self-adhesive
                labels fall off the envelopes.   The effect on white paper
is quite
                pronounced:  it is visibly yellowed,
                as if exposed to sunlight for a very long period of time.

                What distresses me most is that this is being done to
library materials as
                well, and the same damage
                is evident.  The glue in the binding of one journal issue I
looked at today
                is almost entirely melted
                away, and once again, the paper is brittle.  The ink from
the bar codes on
                the outside of two books
                that were mailed back to us by a patron had disappeared
entirely (I didn't
                notice any real damage
                to the pages, but who knows).

                I'm not sure who to complain to about this.  We are paying a
lot of money
                for our print subscriptions,
                which we bind when volumes are complete, theoretically for
posterity.  With
                the damage that this
                prophylactic irradiation is doing to our journals, we need
to seriously
                reconsider this time-honored
                practice of archiving information.  I'm also concerned about
mailing books
                for interlibrary loan; what
                kind of damage is this causing, and who will be ultimately
                I've done some quick and
                dirty searches of the Internet using Google, but I haven't
come across
                anything on this subject.  The
                US Postal Service web site discusses irradiation of the
mail, but they don't
                address this issue, either.


                Robert Mohrman
                Acting Chief, Medical Library
                Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC)
                6900 Georgia Ave NW
                Washington DC 20307-5001
                (202)782-6547; fax (202)782-6803
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