Environmental Monitoring

Why monitor the collections environment?

The storage environment, including temperature and relative humidity, impacts the rate of deterioration and risk of damage to collections materials. Monitoring includes the regular and sustained collection of environmental data, which provides a baseline for managing storage environments and helps to identify issues with the HVAC system, and determine collection vulnerabilities. This data also provides insight into collection vulnerabilities including deterioration rates of paper and other materials, risk of mold outbreak, and likelihood of habitation of various library pests. Environmental monitoring, combined with other forms of preventative preservation, helps ensure the long-term integrity of collections materials.

Environmental monitoring at UIUC

Initiated in 2005, the program’s first full year of data was collected in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library’s storage spaces. Shortly thereafter, monitoring efforts expanded to several key library spaces, specifically special collections spaces and the Main Stacks. In 2010, the Preservation Department further expanded the program by training staff in departmental libraries in the use of environmental monitoring hardware and software.

The environmental monitoring program uses the Image Permanence Institute’s  PEM2 data logging hardware and eClimate Notebook data management software. For questions about environmental monitoring, please contact the collections care coordinator, Shelby Strommer.

Further Reading

Conservation Center for Arts & Historic Artifacts, & Penn Libraries (n.d.). Collections Environment Infographic. Resources. Retrieved January 14, 2021, from https://ccaha.org/resources/collections-environment-infographic

Ford Conservation Center (2017). Environmental Conditions. History Nebraska Conservation. Retrieved January 14, 2021, from https://history.nebraska.gov/sites/history.nebraska.gov/files/doc/Environmental%20Conditions%202.pdf

Image Permanence Institute (2021). Fundamentals. eClimate Notebook. Retrieved January 14, 2021, from https://www.eclimatenotebook.com/fundamentals.php

—— (n.d.). Collections Environmental Monitoring. Research. Retrieved January 14, 2021, from https://www.imagepermanenceinstitute.org/research/environmental.html

Northeast Document Conservation Center (2012). 2.2 Monitoring Temperature and Relative Humidity. Preservation Leaflets. Retrieved January 14, 2021, from https://www.nedcc.org/free-resources/preservation-leaflets/2.-the-environment/2.2-monitoring-temperature-and-relative-humidity