| Prevention and treatment of mold in library collections with an emphasis on tropical climates: A RAMP study |
There is no question that organic materials, which constitute the bulk of library collections, are particularly vulnerable to the upper extremes of temperature and relative humidity and to the chemical, biological and microbiological deterioration that so often accompany them. Nevertheless, a full understanding of the factors involved in deterioration, combined with careful planning can do much to alleviate the negative impact of adverse environmental conditions. It is imperative that librarians use all the resources available to them, and that solutions to environmental problems be tailored to meet individual needs. Ill-advised choices or an over reliance on technology alone can make a difficult situation even worse.
During and after World War II there was a great interest in the effect of tropical climates on a wide variety of materials.3 Alarmed by the extreme deterioration of paper, leather, textiles and metals on the Asian and Pacific fronts, both the United States and Great Britain devoted a good deal of government funding and considerable effort to studying the causes and prevention of environmentally-related deterioration. At the time, much energy was poured into the study and development of various preservatives which, if applied to materials, might reduce the effects of the environment. Much less attention was devoted to methods for the control of that environment. By the mid 1950's government funding had largely ended, and research into materials, prevention and treatment slowed. Unfortunately, most of the fungicides and biocides recommended at that time are now known to be toxic to man as well as to mold and other pests. Moreover, much of the current research is directed toward the development of ever more sophisticated environmental control systems, limiting its applicability. For those concerned with the preservation of cultural property today, whether in museums, libraries, or archives, modification of the environment is often the only viable option.