NY Times Report: “Floods, Fires and Humidity: How Climate Change Affects Book Preservation”
From The NY Times:
At Tulane University, 1.5 million books and manuscripts were drenched when Hurricane Katrina swept through Louisiana in 2005. In 2018, the University of California, Los Angeles was in talks to receive a donor’s collection when it was destroyed in the Woolsey fire. And the following year, the Getty fire sent up thick, black plumes of smoke that threatened to filter into U.C.L.A.’s libraries and damage the fragile materials housed inside.
“We were lucky” that day, recalled Chela Metzger, the school’s head of preservation and conservation. Acidic smoke and greasy soot are grave concerns for any conservator, but in this case, the winds held them at bay.
Many experts feel they are in a race against time. A 2018 study published in the Climate Risk Management journal assessed 1,232 archival repositories in the United States and found that nearly 99 percent were “likely to be affected by at least one climate risk factor.”
“The higher the humidity, the higher the temperature, the quicker they will break down their organic materials,” said Holly Prochaska, the interim head of the Archives and Rare Books Library at the University of Cincinnati. “Leather will wet rot. Collagen fibers in vellum will tighten and shrink.”
About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.