Overview Statement

Supporting Collection Stewardship and Sustainable Practices

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Managing collection storage and display environments for long-term preservation is a complicated task. It requires an understanding of the effect of the environment on the materials in your collection, a realistic view of the environment in these spaces, and the ability to make strategic changes that will improve collection longevity.

The goal of IPI’s preservation research is to understand and improve collection care and management strategies and practices. It was clear that museums, libraries, and archives needed tools and procedures for documenting, analyzing and managing collection environments. To answer this need, IPI developed and tested algorithms for risk analysis, innovative environmental monitoring hardware, and sophisticated data analysis software for use by cultural institutions. Our initial goal was to make it easier and faster to measure, organize, and analyze environmental data. Based on extensive testing and field work, procedures for effective management practices and sustainable operation have also developed. IPI makes this information available through our websites, publications, workshops, and other outreach activities.

There is a considerable evidence of the effectiveness and relevance of IPI’s contributions to the field of preservation. IPI is one of the few available sources of preservation research and development. Over a thousand institutions around the world, including research libraries, specialized libraries, museums, archives, and historical collections, use IPI’s technology and preservation management approaches, and rely on IPI for advice and information. For these institutions, IPI is a valuable resource, research partner and service provider. View our current and past projects for more information on our research efforts.

IPI is continuing its laboratory research and field consulting practice in sustainable environmental management. In the laboratory we are exploring how rates of thermal and moisture equilibration can be used to advantage in lowering energy consumption or protecting objects from uncontrolled adverse conditions. Beyond the laboratory we have helped institutions use less energy through controlled shutdowns of mechanical systems, altering seasonal set points, reducing airflows and reducing outside air quantities. One thing is abundantly clear – the path forward for sustainable environmental management is cross-disciplinary in nature, including collection care, facilities management, and administrative staff.

IPI’s environmental management work is made possible with very generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

IPI can work with your organization to develop an Environmental Monitoring and Analysis project that fits your needs, from designing an environmental management program, purchasing monitoring equipment, evaluating HVAC design plans, review of existing mechanical systems, energy saving opportunities, risk analysis, and more. 

Contact Patricia Ford to discuss your needs: pafpph@rit.edu