The University Record, October 15, 2001

Just the facts: University Library

  • A preservation staff of four prepare more than 40,000 volumes for commercial binding each year.

  • The 1993 Valentine’s Day fire in the Graduate Library was due to an arsonist, who remains at large. An estimated 300 volumes were destroyed and an additional 8,000–10,000 were wetted from the sprinkler system and fire hoses. Thousands of dollars were expended in staff time and replacements.

  • Most research libraries estimate one-third of their collections are so brittle that further use would cause damage.

  • All kinds of creatures attack library books—mold, insects, even dogs! But the greatest threat is humans.

  • Cotton and linen textiles have acidic fibers, just like historic paper. Low lighting and even environmental conditions help them last a little longer.

  • Archival quality storage supplies are not just available to institutions. Numerous companies now sell acid free products to everyone!

  • Iron gall pen inks, popular in the 1800s, can actually “eat through” the paper of a document.

  • The University Library uses an abandoned limestone mine in Pennsylvania to store 10,000 master microfilm negatives 220 feet below ground where the year-round temperature is 57 degrees Fahrenheit. Over 500 other national companies and libraries use the same facility to store unique records.

  • Microfilm is still the most stable reformatting option avaliable. It will last 500 years if stored properly.

  • Metallic paperclips and 3-ring binders can rust if stored in humid conditions. Alternatives are available to organize important papers and photos.

    Facts supplied by Shannon O’Dell,
    University Library