Fenella G. France, Library of Congress, 101 Independence Ave SE, Washington DC 20540-4560
It is important to understand and assess storage materials for heritage collections to ensure preservation. While control of the external environment can mitigate degradation rates of collections, the microclimate environment surrounding collection materials can determine how collections may change over time. Heritage collections can absorb and release pollutants and this is one of the major reasons for careful selection of materials to ensure they are not off-gassing and releasing potentially harmful compounds that can be absorbed by heritage materials. Research into the chemical composition and stability of cellulosic materials has resulted in a range of standards, specifications and guidelines for storage and housing of heritage collections. The ability to understand and interpret these specifications is necessary to reduce risk and best preserve our collections. Understanding storage encompasses a range of issues, not just assessing the storage material. Selection of cellulosic materials for heritage collections requires a good understanding of the needs of the collection item in terms of their chemical stability and what environment is best for preservation. A preventive conservation approach is the most cost-effective method for minimizing risk, and assuring that any materials that come into contact with the collection item optimize its stability is critical.
Key words: housing materials, storage environment, pollutants, material specifications, heritage preservation