Providing Sustainable Climate Control for the Archives Research Center at the University of Illinois

Damaged Newspaper

A damaged newspaper from the University Library's collections

Image courtesy of the University Library

Project Director: Jennifer Hain Teper, Head of Department of Conservation at the University Library

Grant Program: Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections

Years: 20132016

"The University of Illinois Library and Archives received a 'Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections' implementation grant to replace the existing climate control system for Archives Research Center (ARC), which will improve system operation, effectiveness, and energy efficiency as well as provide a preservationally sound storage environment for valuable archival holdings, which range from paper documents to historic instruments.  Installation of a fire suppression system will also be included in the project.  This implementation grant is a critical step towards furthering both the Library’s commitment to sustainability as well as the preservation of one of the most valuable and unique collections held by the University of Illinois Libraries, which is currently stored in a less-than-ideal environment with no available fire suppression.

"The current HVAC system at the Archives Research Center has steadily decreased in its ability to maintain a favorable environment over the years, despite on-going service to the unit. The temperature control from the current HVAC unit is steady, however the system is incapable of operating efficiently at the cooler temperatures suggested for long-term paper storage. The relative humidity (RH) control, or lack thereof, is an even more significant problem, with fluctuations between 14% to 84% RH.  The resulting storage environment, both the higher than desired temperatures and the variable relative humidity, result in increased embrittlement and discoloration of paper, physical stresses on historic musical instruments, and breakdown of unique audiovisual recordings."

Jennifer Hain Teper

An Interview with NEH Grant-Recipient Jennifer Hain Teper

The Past Five Years