Monday, April 22, 2013

Preservation Week @MSMC, Part 1

A little too warm today -- 74 degrees.
Relative humidity just right at 40%.
THE LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES WORLD is marking Preservation Week, an annual reminder that without a certain amount of tender loving care our books, papers, manuscripts, photographs, yearbooks, magazines and other treasures will gradually disappear.

Preservation Management also happens to be something we teach in the San Jose State University School of Library and Information Science (SJSU-SLIS), so it is a subject near and dear to our archivist's heart.

Keeping the Mount's treasures safe in the Coe Library is an interesting and challenging job.That there are archives and special collections in the library today we owe to our CSJ predecessors, who did what they could in the face of fire and flood, mold and bugs, and everything else that puts our "stuff" (the official archival term) at risk.

We thought we'd observe Preservation Week with a daily look at our favorite tools of the trade. And since it is Earth Day, the topic of the environment is a good starting point. We battle climate change -- right here in the archives. But not the kind that causes sea levels to rise and upsets polar bears. We mean in that cool, dry place where it's safe to keep books and paper.

Stability is the name of the game: a narrow temperature range around 70 or 72 degrees, and relative humidity around 40%.  Too much fluctuation breaks down the chemical bonds in paper and causes them to become brittle. Like most college and university libraries, we have lots and lots of brittle paper.

Above is the little hygrometer we check daily to keep an eye on our first-floor environment. There are more sophisticated models, but this $20 piece of equipment pays big dividends. If we keep the books cool, dry and happy, we don't have to spend money stabilizing them and restoring them later on.

Tomorrow we'll look at another fave tool -- acid-free boxes. If you're on the Chalon Campus this week, stop by and see these goodies in person!

No comments:

Post a Comment