Environmental Guidelines

This is an introduction to the strategic preservation of collections against agents of deterioration, especially environmental ones, such as light, relative humidity, temperature and atmospheric pollutants. The workshop will be in the form of a traditional presentation, a group exercise, a visit to a storage facility and/or an exhibit and exercises using computerized equipment.

Learning objectives

Upon completion of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • understand preservation principles;
  • understand the effects of relative humidity, temperature, light and pollutants on objects;
  • quantify the degree of preservation of objects in a given environment; and
  • implement a preservation strategy based on an analysis of priorities, costs and benefits.


Preservation principles and assessment

Background and examination of the notion of standards versus guidelines. Preservation parameters such as object integrity, its current access (visibility) and its future access (preservation). Notion of preservation target and assessment of the degree of preservation of collections by using risk management concepts.


Sensitivity of objects to light and UV rays. Notion of dose. Preservation assessment of objects against radiation. Guidelines on lighting levels. Reflection and glare problems.

Relative humidity and temperature

Sensitivity of objects to humidity and temperature fluctuations. Preservation assessment of objects against humidity. Guidelines. Control strategies.


Sensitivity of objects to various airborne pollutants in buildings. Preservation assessment of objects against pollutants. Guidelines. Control strategies. Preservation assessment of a collection. Preservation assessment using a simple computer program. Introduction to preservation indexes.

Preservation assessment of a collection

Preservation assessment using a simple computer program. Introduction to preservation indexes.

Improved preservation through a costs and benefits analysis

Set action priorities based on preservation assessment results. Select strategic options based on a costs and benefits analysis.

Target audience

Staff and volunteers involved in collection management, including its storage and access.


English and French

Enrollment limits

Minimum 10, maximum 20

Special requirements

  • meeting room where people can work in groups of four or five
  • one flipchart per group with markers and one flipchart or a whiteboard for the instructors
  • computer/laptop and projector (electric extension cords needed for the installation)
  • screen for PowerPoint
  • table for the projector (if necessary) and a table for other materials
  • if possible, access to an exhibition room
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