Creating a Computerized Information System to Document the Effects of Environmental Conditions on the Preservation of Collections (Field Trial I) – (2000-2004)

Climate Notebook version 2.5 - Field Trial IFunded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, IPI’s Field Trial I was designed to help museums, libraries and archives improve the care of their collections through assessment and control of storage environments. Specialized data logger hardware (PEM®) and data analysis software (Climate Notebook® v.2.5) developed by the Image Permanence Institute were utilized and field-tested in the project.

The primary project activity was an eighteen-month evaluation of IPI’s environmental monitoring and analysis system by 180 cultural institutions, offering IPI a great deal of insight and feedback toward further development of the system. In addition, a database of specific environmental requirements for common collection materials was developed and incorporated into Climate Notebook software.

At the close of the project IPI made the first environmental analysis software designed specifically for cultural institutions available for sale—Climate Notebook® v.3.0. This program allowed users to organize and interpret environmental data in ways that were never possible before. Temperature and humidity figures collected by data loggers, hygrothermographs, or even by hand, could be viewed and interpreted easily and effectively, allowing users to make informed decisions about long-term collection care.

Field trial participants were overwhelmingly positive about the PEM® (Preservation Environment Monitor®) data logger. 94% of users would recommend the PEM to others, 75% found that it saved time compared with other data loggers, and 70% experienced no problems using the logger.

“I think the way [the PEM] allows you to manage the data is rather revolutionary. It allows the data to be formatted and made accessible to anyone else who might be interested, regardless of their knowledge in environmental monitoring and its impact on the collection. It is also a great teaching tool to conservation students and interns.”  Bruno P. Pouliot, Winterthur Museum

Climate Notebook v.3.1.3 is currently available from IPI. The ideal software for serious analysis of environmental data, Climate Notebook places years of experience and knowledge in the fields of environmental monitoring, material decay, and preservation into the hands of collections care staff. Graphs, reports and analysis can be used to compare and evaluate storage conditions, to plan a renovation or relocation of storage, and to help raise institutional awareness of the effect of the environment on preservation efforts. Because Climate Notebook incorporates the element of change over time, users are able to predict the effect of existing conditions on collections, and to compare the result of maintaining current conditions with what could be achieved if improvements are made.

The original PEM is no longer available, but it is fully supported by IPI staff. The PEM2 is now available, a more compact model with a much simpler data retrieval system. PEM2 data files are compatible with Climate Notebook software—or they can be uploaded directly into



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: