Integrated Pest Management

What is integrated pest management?

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a proactive program designed to prevent, monitor, identify, and control infestations. The most important aspect is prevention, such as removing sources of food and water, climate control, and preventing pests from entering the facility. Regular monitoring helps determine when there is a pest problem  and whether there are buildings maintenance or operation issues that need to be addressed. By identifying specific types of pests, we can determine whether they may be harmful to collections materials and establish the most appropriate course of action. A number of non-chemical options may be employed to control pests, such as caulking around windows, restricting food to certain areas, and freezing infested collections materials.

Non-chemical methods of control are preferable to chemical spraying, which is typically deployed as a last resort. First and foremost, researchers are discovering that a wide variety of chemicals found in pesticides can have a disruptive effect on a person’s neurological, respiratory, immune, and endocrine systems, even at relatively low dosages. Decreased use of chemical application will reduce risks to the health of staff members. Additionally, pesticides, particularly those in oil-based solutions, will chemically interact with paper, film and digital media. Decreased use of chemical applications will reduce the risk of deterioration and disfigurement of holdings.


The Preservation department has been conducting IPM monitoring activities in several special collections library spaces since 2007. A summary of findings from monitoring these spaces can be found in the IPM Annual Reports . In 2010, Preservation began providing supplies and training for staff interested in starting an IPM monitoring program in departmental libraries. Departmental libraries should contact the collections care coordinator, Shelby Strommer, to discuss establishing an IPM program. To order additional traps, submit the Preservation Services Supplies Request Form (staff login required).

Staff should report sightings to Library Facilities and Preservation Services using the IPM Pest Report Log (staff login required).


  • Review patron compliance with the Food and Drink guidelines in the Patron Conduct Policy, and staff compliance with the Library Employee Food and Drink Policy
  • Dispose of food waste in designated receptacles and empty daily
  • Promptly clean up any spills or crumbs
    • If a spill occurs on the floor or furniture, immediately contact the Office of Library Facilities at 217-333-0317
    • If a spill occurs on computer equipment, immediately notify Library IT at 217-244-4688
  • Remove indoor plants from collections spaces and staff work areas


Label traps, place methodically around the collections space, and record trap locations. Invertebrate pests are attracted to sources of natural light and/or gravitate towards water and food sources. Place traps flush against the wall in pest runways such as areas near drains and water sources; building entry points such as doors, windows, and air vents; areas where food is routinely present; and floors below ground level. Monitor traps monthly and report insect sightings in order to identify problem areas and understand annual insect population cycles. Replace insect traps with new, clean traps.

Rarely, live rodents may walk over the glue trap and stick instantly, unable to budge. This is both cruel to the rodent and unsanitary for humans (as trapped mice urinate and defecate on the trap out of fear, creating a potential health problem for humans). If you discover live rodents on a glue trap, you can loosen the glue and safely release the trapped animal outside the facility. Wearing gloves, add vegetable oil to neutralize the glue and, with a pencil, gently push the rodent off the trap.

Identifying and Reporting

Each month, identify and count the insects in the traps and record in the appropriate tracking spreadsheet. For complete instructions, please see IPM Procedures for Departmental Libraries (staff login required). Report sightings to Library Facilities and Preservation Services using the IPM Pest Report Log (staff login required).

Identification Resources

University of Illinois Preservation Photo Reference: This tool should be your first reference point for identification of typical pests. Preservation staff developed the guide specifically for use at University of Illinois libraries. The table contains information about bugs that commonly appear on traps here, including the common and scientific name, adult and often larval images, and notes relating to the bug.

Museum Pests Identification Image Library: The Image Library includes photos of many common pests, as well images of insect damage to collections materials. The Museum Pests site, run by the Museum Pests Working Group, also contains a variety of additional IPM resources.

BugGuide: This site, hosted by the Iowa State University Department of Entomology, includes a clickable identification guide of pests found in the United States and Canada.

Treatment and Control

A majority of insect activity within a library can be eliminated through proper habitat modification. Food and drink policies must be enforced, and good housekeeping is essential. Areas where food is permitted should have a regular cleaning schedule to help reduce the risk of invertebrate pest infestation and garbage receptacles should be tightly sealed and removed daily to remove food sources for pests. In addition to food and drink, plants should not be allowed anywhere in the collection area or in staff offices. Wet soil and dead plant matter can all lead to supporting insect populations. A properly modified habitat will decrease the risk of an infestation and prevent it from swelling in numbers if an infestation does occur.

Small Infestation

If an increase in insect activity is located in a particular section of the collection, isolate the infested material as quickly as possible. Remove the infested section away from the rest of the collection and place items in small sealable plastic bags. In order to kill all life stages of the insects, the materials should be labeled and sent to the Conservation Lab at the Oak Street Library Facility for blast freezing treatment. Although most items can withstand blast freezing, some materials are too fragile and may be damaged in the process, therefore blast freezing may not be appropriate for all infested library materials.

If a returned item is returned with a suspected pest infestation, please place item inside sealed plastic bag, include a BLUE Mold and Pests streamer, and route to Preservation Services.

Large Infestation

If local blast freezing is not a possibility, eradication of the insect infestation is most likely accomplished by chemical control and applied through the University of Illinois Facilities and Services Department (UI F&S). The use of any substance (especially insecticide) directly on collection materials is not recommended. Generally, invertebrate infestations are not controlled chemically unless they present a significant and immediate danger to the building or the collections. However, silverfish, beetle, termite and cockroach infestations should be chemically controlled as soon as possible, as these organisms may pose significant risk to any collection. Before treated materials are returned to the collection, the infested area should be thoroughly cleaned of all debris.

Library Facilities will contact the Water Station to request pest control treatment/service. This is a last resort, as we strive to deal with pest control in the safest, most natural way possible. Library staff should avoid applying unvetted chemical products to avoid polluting the workplace and affect human and collection resources.

While the Library waits for service, the Office of Library Facilities will:

  • Quarantine infected materials with the assistance of Preservation
  • Coordinate cleaning the space
  • Continue to monitor the situation
  • Request deep cleaning (including carpet cleaning if necessary) after the space has been treated

UIUC Standard Response to IPM Reports

  1. Library staff reports pest sightings using the web form helps to alert both Facilities & Preservation of any pest issues: IPM Pest Report Log (staff login required).
  2. Reporting staff should take initial cleaning measures-removes food crumbs, wipes up old spills, etc.
  3. Library Facilities will asses the severity of issue and determine course of action- i.e. whether to continue to monitor or call Water Station immediately.
  4. Review staff and patron compliance with food policies; ensure staff are utilizing designated food disposal trash cans and emptying daily; clean and declutter the space.
  5. Library Facilities & Preservation will place temporary monitor traps in the space and continue to monitor for the next two weeks.

Further Reading

Eckstein, Amanda W. (2014). Chapter 5: Biological Infestations. Museum Handbook Part 1. National Park Service.

Ford Conservation Center (2017). Integrated Pest Management. History Nebraska Conservation. R 

Museum Pests Working Group. (n.d.). Museum Pests.

Northeast Document Conservation Center (2015). 3.10 Emergency Salvage of Moldy Books and Paper. Preservation Leaflets