IPI environmental research initiatives focus on creating tools that help cultural institutions monitor and analyze environmental data to make informed decisions about how to improve the preservation quality of storage environments. Monitoring and controlling temperature and relative humidity (RH) in collection spaces is essential to providing adequate preservation conditions for collections. Recommendations for storage temperature and RH levels are periodically re-examined following the latest advancements in preservation science, and in recent years have been further informed by improved data-gathering methods, and greater interest in sustainability issues. In the 21st century, there has been a shift in thinking from static environmental management in cultural institutions – that is one in which institutions aim to achieve the same temperature and RH levels in collections spaces year-round – to dynamic environmental management in which conditions are allowed to vary within safe ranges, particularly seasonally.
Monitoring alone will not improve preservation environments or the longevity of collections. Environmental management includes analysis and interpretation of the preservation quality of the environmental conditions recorded and the implementation of improvements as necessary. Maintaining an optimal balance of the slowest rate of collection decay, lowest energy cost, and best practice operation of HVAC systems requires an ongoing commitment to monitoring, analysis, and management. IPI’s PEM2® datalogger specifically designed for collecting institutions and web-based application eClimateNotebook (eCNB) represents all the tools necessary for collecting, graphing, analyzing, and archiving environmental data collected in collections spaces.
IPI's eClimateNotebook® has processed and analyzed over 1.5 billion data points for thousands of institutions worldwide.
Loggers in the Field
IPI's PEM2® dataloggers are trusted by cultural institutions internationally.
Institutions in over 60 countries use IPI’s tools to monitor their collection environments.
Training Sustainable Environmental Management Teams for Cultural Institutions
This two-year project is focused on improving and increasing the capacity of humanities collections professionals to independently establish and maintain sustainable environmental management programs. In cultural institutions an environmental management team that includes both collections and facilities staff creates a structure in which the insights gained from environmental monitoring are actively used to inform environmental management. Webinars and workshops will provide essential knowledge and skills necessary for small, mid-size, and large institutions working to balance the preservation quality of collections environments with responsible building management and lower energy costs. This project has the potential to simultaneously improve the long-term preservation of humanities collections across the US while reducing the long-term costs associated with preserving those collections.
National Endowment for the Humanities
2019 - 2020
Kelly McCauley Krish
The Impact of Temperature Transitions, Short-term and Seasonal, on the Moisture Content of Library and Archive Collections
The potential for deterioration caused by moisture content exists in storage and access scenarios. This research will strengthen our understanding of the complex interactions between hygroscopic collection materials and their environment in response to temperature changes. Data collected has the potential to 1) determine the storage density necessary to effectively have hygroscopic materials control their moisture content, 2) provide a roadmap for controlling moisture content during periods of dryness and dampness, and 3) create a guide for temperature and relative humidity ranges that avoid mechanical damage during access and use. The results of this project have the potential to inform new sustainable preservation and access strategies for both large and small humanities research collections.
National Endowment for the Humanities
2018 - 2020
Digital Image Correlation to Determine Shape Deformation of Paper Based Collections Due to Relative Humidity and Temperature Variations
One of the most frequent questions asked by rare book curators and librarians is: “At what RH, especially with respect to dry conditions, does a serious risk of irreversible mechanical stress occur?” Mechanical (physical) damage due to dryness or excessive dampness is the principal reason why special collection materials require controlled environmental conditions. For many years, recommendations have emphasized close control around a target of 45-55% RH. What is not well established from actual experimentation, however, are the practical limits where irreversible damage takes place. This area of research—safe limits for RH—has received considerable attention in the fine and decorative arts, but not for the complex and diverse mechanical structures of bound volumes. To overcome the difficulty of studying mechanical behavior of complex book structures IPI will employ a new technology, Digital Image Correlation (DIC) to dynamically assess expansion and contraction of composite objects.
National Endowment for the Humanities
2015 - 2019
This guidebook introduces the fundamentals of defining an optimal and sustainable preservation environment. It outlines the basics of what you need to know to accurately document the storage environment and establish sustainable preservation practices. Funding provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Division of Preservation and Access, Education & Training Grant Program.
The cost of energy to heat, cool, and dehumidify can be a significant portion of an institutional budget, and a necessary investment for collecting institutions obligated to provide the best stewardship possible to the materials in their collections. Finding the appropriate balance between preservation and resource allocation goals is a process unique to each institution, based on their specific situation. Join a webinar, attend a workshop, and explore many resources on this topic at ipisustainability.org.
IPI’s Preservation Metrics transform temperature and relative humidity data into quantitative numerical measures of collection risk. Each metric evaluates the quality of environmental conditions into a single value representing the degree of risk for a particular form of material deterioration including chemical change in organic objects, dimensional change (or mechanical damage), the potential for biological decay (or mold risk), and moisture-induced corrosion. IPI's Preservation Metrics provide a quick, automated analysis of environmentally-induced deterioration and allow collection stewards to accurately and objectively determine how well a storage area is performing for collection preservation, and to assess how well one environment is performing compared to another. Metrics can flag potential problems and document the impact of changes or adjustments made to improve the quality of a preservation environment.
Web-based environmental data management software designed to help museums, libraries, and archives document, analyze, and improve the storage environment for long-term preservation. Easily evaluate the preservation quality of your storage environments with metrics that calculate the rate of natural aging, the risk of mechanical damage, and the risk of mold. Available at various subscription levels depending on institutional size.
This tool is designed to calculate and visually present the relationship between temperature, relative humidity and dew point. These calculations are used to evaluate the preservation quality of the environment based on four types of material decay—natural aging or chemical decay, the risk of mechanical damage, the potential for mold growth or for metal corrosion.