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June 1988

The Crisis Facing Printed Medical LiteratureAcid Paper

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Library and Information Management, American Medical Association.

Arch Intern Med. 1988;148(6):1439-1440. doi:10.1001/archinte.1988.00380060203035

• Medicine strives to preserve the achievements of the past for the benefit of future clinicians and scientists. However, the paper on which medical journals are printed is steadily and irreversibly decaying. Since the late 1800s, most medical journals have been published on paper prepared with acids. In recent years, publishers, authors, and archivists have become aware of the destructive effects of acid decay on medical journals. Though the cause of deterioration is well understood, the choice of a remedy is still controversial. Remedies include acid-free paper, computerization, deacidification, and microfilm. These techniques are reviewed for their reliability, comprehensiveness, and cost-effectiveness. Microfilm is recommended above other techniques as the most immediately promising solution. The authors propose that publishers be required by law to submit archival quality microfilm as a condition for copyright protection.

(Arch Intern Med 1988;148:1439-1440)