Article cover
Media history

Can Contain Traces of Nitrate: An Analysis of Holdings of the Photo Archive of the ETH Library in Zurich with the SurveNIR System

Dirk Andreas Lichtblau and Nicole Graf

From the Journal: Rundbrief Fotografie

Published online:

07 Jul 2022



Films containing nitrocellulose, which is susceptible to spontaneous combustion, famously pose a considerable risk of fire. Part of the responsibility of the photo archive of the library of the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) in Zurich is therefore minimizing the risk posed by nitrocellulose films in its stacks. The precondition of such measures is identifying the amount of nitrocellulose film in each item. Using the SurveNIR system by the firm Lichtblau e. K. in Dresden, the material of 35,109 samples was identified in a fifteen-month period and the state of their aging studied. That amounts to 1.36 % of the estimated total holdings. Along with visually recording typical damage in photographs, it provided an objective, extensive database for conservation and preservation methods for the next ten years.

Other articles in this issue:

Rundbrief Fotografie Issues

Volume 31 (2024)
Volume 30 (2023)
Volume 29 (2022)

Get instant, unlimited access to this journal

Related titles

Would you like to receive monthly information about new publications and events?


Deutscher Kunstverlag

Genthiner Straße 13

10785 Berlin

+49 (0)30 / 27 90 76 - 0

Neumarkter Straße 28

81673 München