May 18, 2022

Navy Department Library Looks to Future-Proof Unique Historical Documents

From the U.S. Navy:

The staff of the Naval History and Heritage Command’s (NHHC) Navy Department Library continued the renovation of its rare book room, Nov. 26, in order to better conserve the rare and unique documents preserved and stored in the room at the Washington Navy Yard.

As part of an ongoing overhaul of various NHHC headquarters, the room is receiving a new fire suppression system, the FM-200 made by DuPont.

The FM-200 uses a gas that will extinguish fire without damaging irreplaceable items, replacing a primary system of fire sprinklers that would have released damaging water onto priceless documents and artifacts. The overhaul highlights NHHC’s persistent commitment to professionalize the U.S. Navy’s museums and curatorial rooms, bringing them level with the best of America’s museums.

“Water on these documents would practically be as bad as fire,” said Glenn Helm, Director of the Navy Department Library. “They would be ruined. It would stop the fire, but you would lose everything. The objective is to have a gas fire suppression system as the primary system. It will permeate everything but it won’t damage the books.”

“Instead of water it discharges Heptaflouropropane – a colorless, odorless gaseous halocarbon that is non-toxic,” explained Igor Boras, senior construction manager for Public Works Department Naval Support Activity Washington, about the new system.


NHHC’s Navy Department Library rare book room, a climate-controlled vault, features documents both unique and rare. The room even boasts a whole shelf of books written before 1600. During the renovation process, the rare books have been put into a partitioned part of the room to keep these incredibly rare volumes and documents safe.

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Learn More About the Navy Department Library Rare Book Room

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.