Developing Data Models and Best Practices for Diagnosis and Improvement of Preservation Environments at the New York Public Library (2007-2008)

New York Public Library - LionThe New York Public Library (NYPL) received funding through a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Research & Development grant for Developing Data Models and Best Practices for Diagnosis and Improvement of Preservation Environments. IPI was the NYPL’s research partner for this two-year project to define best practices for monitoring, evaluating, and optimizing storage conditions from an environmental perspective.

The “Best Practices” project focused on collecting and analyzing data from collection storage and display areas, analysis of the mechanical systems that produce the environment, development of action steps to reduce collection deterioration and improve preservation quality, and facilitation of communication among NYPL stakeholders. The project included the development of a web-based collection storage information system for all NYPL research libraries, including the Humanities and Social Sciences Library; Science, Industry, and Business Library; Library for the Performing Arts and Rose Annex Building; and the Schomburg Center.

IPI and NYPL worked closely with IPI’s consulting partners Herzog/Wheeler and Associates, St. Paul, MN, and Zak Software, Chili, NY, to collect and analyze data, develop action steps for improvement, and facilitate communication among stakeholders. NYPL staff from preservation, curatorial, and facilities management worked together to develop a broader understanding of actual mechanical system functions—shared and reviewed by both preservation and facilities people—which led to realistic remedial actions which could be monitored and assessed for their impact. Also successful was the development of a shared understanding of preservation concerns, mechanical system capabilities, and the experience and knowledge of all stakeholders in the process. Working together on these issues allowed staff to develop more realistic expectations, make more effective decisions, and use time more efficiently.

Best Practices Chart

Working together, NYPL and IPI were extremely successful in developing technology and approaches for preservation management in libraries, archives, and museums. Their research and experience have opened up an entirely new set of “Best Practices”to be used by collection care specialists and facility managers.  The promise of the technology developed through this project is enormous. 

View a demonstration video about the Best Practices project.


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: