Managing the library and archive environment
The life expectancy of collections is significantly affected by the environmentalconditions in which they are stored. Environmental problems in buildings can causesignificant damage to collections. These can be quite easy to ignore, building upslowly over time until they reach crisis point. The economics of environmentaldamage are stark. Poor conditions can lead to damage to hundreds or eventhousands of items at one time, each of which may need expensive individual repair.Conservators can often repair damage to books and documents, but this is rarelya cheap process and there are many other negative consequences. Books anddocuments that are being treated are not available for study, and regardless of thequality of the conservation work, something of the original is lost during treatment.This can lead to a less useful or less valuable item.Knowing the environmental conditions in a library or archive is essential for planning the best strategy for the preservation of collections and for targeting your resources effectively. With good recordkeeping, the information collected will provideevidence of good stewardship for funders, professional bodies and future donors.Compliance with relevant standards and professional guidelines, and therequirements of government agencies and funding bodies are additional reasonsto implement a programme of environmental management. Collecting and actingon data does take time but is impossible to do on a retrospective basis. Goodenvironmental records will mean that evidence of good stewardship of collectionscan be produced should it be requested, as a condition of a grant, or as evidenceof need to support applications to fund improvements.This booklet provides guidance on environmental management to help youto preserve your books and documents for as long as possible. Although a rangeof environmental factors can affect library and archive collections this booklet willconcentrate on temperature and relative humidity (RH).