The Map Today
The Library of Congress is protecting and preserving the Abel Buell 1784 map of the United States by placing it in a state-of-the-art case with stringent environmental controls that have been determined by preservation experts.
Why is Preservation Important?
Preservation of our cultural heritage through controlling the environment is critical to ensure it is around for future generations.
What if the map got too much light?
Too much light causes damage by fading inks and light sensitive colors on the map.
What if the map got too much oxygen?
Too much oxygen can degrade paper, breaking down the chemical bonds and making it brittle.
Hyperspectral imaging non-invasively captures images in the visible and non-visible spectrum of light to uncover hidden text and information, identify colorants without sampling, and create baseline data that allows us to track changes due to the environment.
X-Ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy allows us to look at the inorganic elements (metals) present in materials and is another non-invasive technique used to identify material composition. Identification allows us to know how to preserve the map while on view.
The micro-fade spectrometer is a portable instrument that allows us to take light-fastness measurements on the map to identify colorants that are more sensitive to light. This information aids in predicting safe light levels and preventing damage to light-sensitive colorants from exposure.
How is the Map Being Protected?
To ensure the longevity of the map all care is being taken through controlling all aspects of the environment while it is on long-term exhibition.
An anoxic encasement controls the internal environment around the map by removing any oxygen that can harm materials, and controlling the level of moisture content. Library staff track and monitor what is happening to the environment inside and around the case at all times.