Environmental Monitoring

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners is running an environmental monitoring program for multi-type libraries, archives, historical societies, museums, and records custodians in Massachusetts. With the help of L.S.C.A. Title III funds, the MBLC purchased seventy digital dataloggers to take temperature and relative humidity (RH) readings over a five-month period in up to fifteen (15) libraries at a time. Generally, three dataloggers are installed in each participating library to record changing environmental conditions through at least one seasonal change when most HVAC systems have particular difficulty maintaining proper environmental conditions. One datalogger is installed in the Local History/Special Collections Room, one is placed in the General Stacks, and one is located outside to record external temperature and RH conditions. The dataloggers are installed for a five-month period that will permit the libraries to see graphically the effects the outside environment has on that inside the library and how far the library's environment fluctuates from recommended preservation levels.

At the beginning of this five-month period, the Preservation Specialist takes a number of environmental readings (temperature, relative humidity, light, and ultraviolet radiation) at each location as the dataloggers are installed and makes general recommendations to the libraries on how to ameliorate their environmental conditions for the optimum long-term preservation and storage of their holdings. A similar set of readings are taken at the end of the five months to give the staff immediate feedback on the current conditions. The dataloggers are then retrieved from the libraries, the data downloaded into a computer, and graphs generated. Each library receives a copy of the graphs from its dataloggers with an analysis of the findings, information from Climate Notebook software that permits the staff to view graphically the impact that current environmental conditions are having on the life of the materials, and recommendations for improvement of the environment based on the data. The dataloggers are then available for installation into another set of libraries.

Librarians, archivists, historical societies and museum personnel, and records custodians interested in participating in this program should contact Gregor Trinkaus-Randall at the MBLC at (617) 725-1860 x 236, (800) 952-7403 x 236 or e-mail gregor.trinkaus-randall@state.ma.us for further information.

Page last updated on 05/22/2015