The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) has collected a unique set of environmental data from storage and display areas in hundreds of cultural institutions in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, in time frames that spanned the heating and cooling seasons of the year. The goal of this research project was to investigate whether this unique resource of data could be organized, distilled, and synthesized into useful environmental management benchmarks and interpretive guidelines that institutions could use to evaluate their own stewardship and compare it to peer institutions. Utilizing an environmental data analysis software program and metrics designed by the Image Permanence Institute (IPI) to identify and compare preservation quality, the researchers created a detailed statistical analysis of indoor and outdoor environments in Massachusetts by season, region, and institution. The research identified the importance of seasonal climatic differences, the fall season being the most problematic preservation environment management challenge. Institutions must pay close attention to temperature control during periods of high humidity when too much cooling can raise relative humidity to dangerously high levels. The benchmarks and environmental management guidelines developed during this project provide valuable information to institutions in Massachusetts as well as those located in the continental climate zone of the United States.

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