Document storage is about more than just finding a place to keep records. It’s about preservation. One of the most important factors in keeping records safe is the condition of the storage environment. Monitoring provides a more comprehensive picture of the conditions within a storage space and the effectiveness of its climate control system, allowing your organization to make decisions about the space’s management.
Important Document Storage Considerations
Documents degrade and decay because of high heat and relative humidity levels within a storage environment. It’s common for organizations that preserve archives to monitor temperature and relative humidity levels to prevent mold damage and high acidity levels. Ideal temperatures for paper records vary between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Relative humidity should be between 40 and 55 percent.
Air quality is also an important factor when storing documents. It’s crucial to ensure proper ventilation in a storage space to prevent the buildup of harmful compounds, such as dust, nitrogen oxide, ozone, formaldehyde, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds, and carbon monoxide. When an organization’s HVAC doesn’t provide sufficient control over the storage environment’s temperature, humidity levels, or air quality, it should consider implementing temporary humidity control solutions to complement the system in place.
Tools Used to Monitor Document Storage Environments
- “Snapshot” devices: “Snapshot” devices provide real-time information about the current conditions inside a storage area. Some require human participation to acquire a reading, which may be labor-intensive, while others may send the information to electronic devices. Examples of “snapshot” devices include:
- Humidity strips or cards: Humidity-indicating products that provide approximate humidity readings onto cards or strips of paper.
- Thermometers: Gain accurate temperature information wherever you place the thermometer. Some organizations place thermometers in various locations within a storage environment, like areas where conditions may differ or near fragile collections.
- Electronic psychrometer: Measures relative humidity levels.
- Electronic temperature and humidity readers: Operates similarly to digital thermometers, but also measures relative humidity.
- Hygrothermograph: Digital hygrothermographs record the highest and lowest humidity levels and temperature readings since the last time an individual reset the device. Staff members can check the readings as often as they wish and use the data to create reports or graphs manually. Recording hygrothermographs records changes in temperatures and humidity levels for you. The analog device has sensors attached to pens that continually record changes onto a spool of paper that has a pre-printed linear, or drum, chart.
- Data loggers: Data loggers are continuous monitoring devices that record relative humidity levels and temperatures at preset intervals. Because of the convenience offered and ease of use, they are one of the most commonly used monitoring devices in institutions. Data loggers may work as standalone devices or connect to a computer using radio frequencies or Internet connections. Some allow you to download data onto a flash stick. Data loggers present quantitative measurements and create graphs using computer software. When you use the device in different locations, it may compare the data recorded. Some data loggers also provide risk summaries related to factors like mold growth, corrosion, and natural aging.
Monitoring is essential to the preservation of the materials that you store. The best type of monitoring device for a document storage environment depends on an organization’s goals and how it intends to use the data collected. If your organization has difficulties controlling the environment within a storage environment, get in touch with Polygon. Its temporary humidity control solutions are tailored to your needs, giving you the controls that HVAC systems lack to create the ideal storage space. Contact Polygon today to schedule a consultation.
[Photo from Larry Jacobsen via CC License 2.0]