Have you heard about WNYLRC's Preservation Environment Monitor Program? WNYLRC owns six Preservation Environment Monitors that can be loaned out to libraries, museums and archives in the Western New York area.
What is a Preservation Environment Monitor (PEM)? A PEM is a small device, not much bigger than a portable GPS unit, that records temperature and relative humidity readings at 30 second intervals. The PEM runs on a battery and has an internal storage unit that will save the temperature and relative humidity readings until they are removed from the PEM with a USB flash drive. If you want to borrow a PEM, WNYLRC staff will come to your location to place the PEM and turn it on for you.
Why should you borrow a PEM? Libraries, museums and archives have a wide range of materials such as books, manuscripts, DVDs, artifacts, etc. Some times the materials are stored on-site at the institution, and some times the materials are stored off-site. In all cases, it is likely that the storage conditions could or should be improved in order to prolong the life of the materials. Most materials are vulnerable to heat and relative humidity, and fluctuations in these two environmental conditions can adversely affect all types of items. With a PEM, you will be able to monitor the environmental conditions in your storage area (or the archives or the stacks) for a period of 12 months. The data from the PEM will give you a complete picture of your storage environment throughout all four seasons.
How do you find out how about the impact of environmental conditions on your collections? Once the 12-month borrowing period is complete, WNYLRC staff will come to your location to retrieve the data from the PEM and to remove it from your storage area. The data from the PEM is then fed into the Climate Notebook software, a sophisticated tool that produces reports based on the environmental data. You provide a list of the types of materials stored in the monitored area, and the software reports on the life expectancy of the materials based on current environmental conditions.
This vital information will allow you to make decisions about the materials. For example, some materials may tolerate moderate fluctuations in heat and relative humidity. Some materials are very sensitive to fluctuations. Storing certain materials together may be a good idea, and removing sensitive materials to a more controlled environment may drastically improve their life expectancy.
Please consider borrowing a PEM from WNYLRC today. For a small fee, you will get a PEM for 12 months, a complete picture of your storage environment throughout all four seasons of weather, and also a detailed report listing current environmental conditions, the affect on your collections, and suggestions for ways to extend the life expectancy of your materials.