Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Environmental Monitoring in Spencer Library

One of the jobs of Conservation Services is to ensure that the storage spaces in Spencer Research Library are suitable forĀ  collections materials. We have placed thirteen dataloggers–plastic boxes smaller than the side of a credit card–around Spencer Library to take readings of temperature and relative humidity at thirty-minute intervals.

HOBO datalogger

A HOBO datalogger that records temperature and relative humidity in Spencer Library spaces.

The information is analyzed in a special software, called Climate Notebook, and the graphs are stored in a central location on KU Libraries’ network so various library staff members can watch for unusual changes in their spaces.

If paper-based materials become too hot and humid, mold could flourish and damage collections. If a storage space is too dry and hot, embrittlement of organic collection materials like paper and textiles could result. Generally, the lower the temperature, the better for our library collections, but because these collections occupy the same space as people, we’ve set a compromised standard of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 50% relative humidity.

Some Spencer collections are stored in KU Libraries’ high-density storage facility, which is kept at around 50 degrees F and 35% relative humidity. In such a space, materials will last longer as rates of deterioration are slowed.

Whitney Baker
Head, Conservation Services

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