UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage


Model can predict ‘shelf life’ for library collections 

4 January 2016


Recent research from UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage has demonstrated how interdisciplinary environmental, material and values research led to a new paradigm in collections management. By looking at collections as populations, researchers developed new statistical tools that help in the decision-making process of collection management.

Lead author, Professor Matija Strlic of UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage explained: “Although some library materials might easily survive thousands of years some have internal clocks triggering faster decay. Using the demographic models we can now easily predict how much more degradation will be induced by a hotter and more humid climate in the future, and perhaps more importantly, how this can be mitigated.”

Nancy Bell, Head of Collection Care for the National Archives, UK said: “We have shown that it is possible to optimise the preservation of a collection while reducing energy consumption, and meeting carbon reduction targets. Using the developed demography models we can manage heat and humidity more smartly during long-term storage.”

Three additional UCL ISH researchers were involved in this research: Dr Kalliopi Fouseki, Dr Carlota Grossi and Dr Catherine Dillon, in a collaborative project with The National Archives (UK), the University of East Anglia, English Heritage, the Dutch National Archives (The Hague), and the Library of Congress (Washington).

For the UCL press release see: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/1215/231215-shelf-life-library

The three-part series of papers is available at: 

The three-part series of papers is available at: 

Part I:http://www.heritagesciencejournal.com/content/3/1/33 

Part II:http://www.heritagesciencejournal.com/content/3/1/36

Part III: http://www.heritagesciencejournal.com/content/3/1/40