After the appeal for donations that ran with the slogan »32 Marks for 1 kg cultural property« in the newspaper ZEIT on 25 November 1999, generous financial support enabled the initiation of the deacidification project focusing on the valuable and unique holdings of the DLA. These funds have since been used to implement quantity deacidification processes to neutralise and buffer books and archival papers to the DLA that are threatened by acid degradation. Between 1999 and 2018, around 10% of the DLA’s holdings were saved from decay.
To date, a total of 130,367 volumes from the library and 920 posters, 1,752 individual sheets, 10 folders and a total of 262 boxes of archival material and newspaper clippings from the archive have been processed. Collections of renowned authors such as Rainer Maria Rilke, Jean Paul, Gottfried Benn, Gerhard Hauptmann, Hermann and Ninon Hesse, Wilhelm Lehmann, Franz Glück, Kurt Pinthus, Siegfried Kracauer, Franz Kafka, Carl Zuckmayer, Marie-Luise Kaschnitz and Ernst Jünger were thus saved from premature decay. Holdings pertaining to lesser known and researched authors, which contained high-risk paper material, are now also still available for use, research or presentation in exhibitions thanks to the deacidification measures carried out.¹
A large part of the DLA’s holdings is still awaiting an assessment of its suitability for deacidification and every year further acquisitions as well as literary of estates and pre-death estates enrich the holdings. The library alone, together with the media documentation department, currently records about 1.4 million units, consisting of books in the library along with the special collections, newspapers and magazines, supplemented by collections of newspaper clippings, book covers and theatre magazines. Additionally, more than 1,400 literary estates and pre-death estates of individual authors in a total of 45,000 boxes in the archive. If the holdings that have already been saved through the deacidification process are compared with these figures, it is clear that the need for further work is enormous (cf. diagram). Only with further donations can the deacidification process take place to a level of quality that offers a realistic chance that these at risk holdings can be preserved for continued, long-term use.
¹ Source cf. table p_uebersicht-maßnahmen_1998-ff.xls in BE-2010-22.