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Saturday, May 31 • 2:00pm - 2:20pm
(Collection Care + HVAC Session) Establishing Sustainable Preservation Environments at the Library of Congress

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The need to balance cost, sustainability and preservation stewardship is a primary and ever increasing concern at collecting institutions throughout the world. The US Library of Congress is addressing this concern by evaluating environmental requirements for collections storage throughout the institution, while identifying opportunities to adjust mechanical system operations to reduce energy consumption without compromising long-term collections preservation.

Since January 2010, the US Library of Congress Preservation Directorate has worked collaboratively with facility managers and external consultants, to conduct a mechanical system modification in two, nearly identical, large stack areas of the John Adams Building, which together hold approximately 13,000,000 volumes on 12 deck levels. By piloting a programmed shut-down of all mechanical system operations for 7.5 hours each night, coincident with automated lighting shut-off, we have identified an opportunity to save up to 31% on HVAC operating costs per year without significantly reducing long-term preservation or exposing the collections to immediate risks associated with climate extremes. In addition in one area we extended the shutdown to include a full 24-hour shut down on Sundays when the Library is closed thereby significantly enhancing the potential yearly operating savings. After four years we have collected and analyzed data that confirm that the nightly shut down modification results in minimal meaningful impact on preservation quality of the collection storage environment when all components of the HVAC system are operating properly. Conversely we have identified operational reasons for adverse environmental trends that are not related to the shut down and have identified methods of reviewing data to determine whether operational fault or the shut down itself is responsible for the excursion from target climate conditions. Finally, Preservation staff are collaborating with facility managers and consultants to review other collection areas in the Library's Capitol Hill complex to identify the risks, benefits and limitations (duration or seasonal) in adopting additional shut down operations to save energy.

This presentation will provide an overview of the environmental assessment program in place at the Library of Congress and show how data collected over time was used to identify locations for the first shut down locations described and to weigh the preservation consequences of mechanical adjustments. The presentation will also provide details of critical factors investigated before and during the trial, describe how we achieved the level of interaction needed between preservation and facility staff, and discuss our method of projecting preservation outcomes and savings potential.

avatar for Nancy Lev-Alexander

Nancy Lev-Alexander

Head, Collections Stabilization, Conservation Division / Library of Congress
Nancy Lev-Alexander has served as a supervisor in the Conservation Division of the Library of Congress for 14 years where she leads the Collections Stabilization Section whose eight members focus on preventive needs of the Library's wide variety of special collections. The Section... Read More →

Saturday May 31, 2014 2:00pm - 2:20pm PDT
Pacific Concourse D-E