Preventive conservation for paper-based collections within historic buildings

Buelow, Anna and Colston, Belinda and Watt, David (2002) Preventive conservation for paper-based collections within historic buildings. PhD thesis, De Montfort University.

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Abstract

Previous research has been carried out concerning the conservation of both historic buildings and library and archive collections. Little work has, however, been undertaken to look at the interface between the two. The following research has been carried out in the context of an interdisciplinary project linking key disciplines in an examination of the issues relating to conservation problems in historic buildings used for library and archive purposes.

This thesis presents a comprehensive literature review, evaluating published data on both the preservation of paper-based collections in libraries and archives, and preventive conservation of historic buildings and monuments. Emphasis is given to the interface between the two. Furthermore, a survey of British archives and libraries has been carried out, including the evaluation of questionnaire and site data. The survey focuses on preventive conservation measures as well as past and present problems of dampness. This survey proved problems with dampness to be often misdiagnosed and the consequences of damage underestimated. From the surveyed collections, two case studies have been selected for environmental monitoring in order to investigate macro- and micro-climates under different environmental conditions. Resulting data suggest that the micro-environment of a confined space is influenced by the amount of paper housed within it. This has assisted in explainig the interaction between paper and the immediate environment. At the same time, data has confirmed that the overall surface area of paper available for environmental interaction is more important than paper type or book size, with respect to the overall conditions within the storage space. Although degradation mechanisms of paper with respect to cyclic conditions are not entirely clear, results of this study emphasise the importance of ventilation and dehumidification in order to avoid mould germination and/or growth.

The data have been used to determine whether the internal environment of enclosed bookcases, and hence the immediate environment of the collection, can be adequately predicted from ambient data taken within the room. Mathematical models have been developed for both metal and wooden bookcases, and have shown that even when ambient conditions are unstable, the relationship between ambient RH and the RH inside a book in an enclosed bookcase can be predicted within 5% margin (1% for a stable environment).

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:Previous research has been carried out concerning the conservation of both historic buildings and library and archive collections. Little work has, however, been undertaken to look at the interface between the two. The following research has been carried out in the context of an interdisciplinary project linking key disciplines in an examination of the issues relating to conservation problems in historic buildings used for library and archive purposes. This thesis presents a comprehensive literature review, evaluating published data on both the preservation of paper-based collections in libraries and archives, and preventive conservation of historic buildings and monuments. Emphasis is given to the interface between the two. Furthermore, a survey of British archives and libraries has been carried out, including the evaluation of questionnaire and site data. The survey focuses on preventive conservation measures as well as past and present problems of dampness. This survey proved problems with dampness to be often misdiagnosed and the consequences of damage underestimated. From the surveyed collections, two case studies have been selected for environmental monitoring in order to investigate macro- and micro-climates under different environmental conditions. Resulting data suggest that the micro-environment of a confined space is influenced by the amount of paper housed within it. This has assisted in explainig the interaction between paper and the immediate environment. At the same time, data has confirmed that the overall surface area of paper available for environmental interaction is more important than paper type or book size, with respect to the overall conditions within the storage space. Although degradation mechanisms of paper with respect to cyclic conditions are not entirely clear, results of this study emphasise the importance of ventilation and dehumidification in order to avoid mould germination and/or growth. The data have been used to determine whether the internal environment of enclosed bookcases, and hence the immediate environment of the collection, can be adequately predicted from ambient data taken within the room. Mathematical models have been developed for both metal and wooden bookcases, and have shown that even when ambient conditions are unstable, the relationship between ambient RH and the RH inside a book in an enclosed bookcase can be predicted within 5% margin (1% for a stable environment).
Keywords:Preventive conservation, library and archive collections, microenvironments, mathematical modelling, historic buildings
Subjects:K Architecture, Building and Planning > K250 Conservation of Buildings
F Physical Sciences > F140 Environmental Chemistry
W Creative Arts and Design > W160 Fine Art Conservation
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:5117
Deposited By: Belinda Colston
Deposited On:27 Apr 2012 21:24
Last Modified:27 Apr 2012 21:24

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