September 24, 2010 "Preservation Roadmaps for the 21st Century" Symposium at Library of Congress, Oct. 20

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Preservation Directorate (202) 707-1024

The Library of Congress on Oct. 20 will present “Preservation Roadmaps for the 21st Century: Understanding the Physical Environment,” which will examine 25 years of preservation research, publication and education by the Image Permanence Institute (IPI).

The day-long program, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 20, is the first in a three-part series, Future Directions Symposia, which will take place at the Library during the next year.

IPI, a nonprofit, university-based laboratory in Rochester, N.Y., has been instrumental in discovering the effect of physical environments on collections in libraries, archives and museums.  Presenters at the symposia will include James M. Reilly, director of IPI; Nancy Lev Alexander, head of Preventive Conservation at the Library of Congress; and IPI research scientists Jean-Louis Bigourdan, Douglas Nishimura and Daniel Burge.

Collections care and facilities management staff in cultural institutions are invited to register for the symposium, which will be held in Room 119 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C.  For program and registration information, visit

“The Image Permanence Institute has long partnered with the Library and other cultural institutions, creating invaluable publications and tools to advance the preservation field,” said Deanna Marcum, associate librarian for Library Services at the Library of Congress.

Early IPI projects focused on the preservation of imaging media, primarily film and photographs.  IPI developed accelerated-aging test methods for photographic storage enclosures, and studied the effects of indoor air pollution, temperature and humidity on the decay rate of vulnerable materials.  Through this research, IPI contributed to the understanding that heat and humidity were the primary drivers of biological decay, chemical instability and mechanical damage for a large variety of museum objects, library collections and archival records.

To help preservation staff in cultural institutions understand the impact of the environment on their collections, IPI developed preservation metrics to evaluate the potential risk of deterioration.  These metrics have become the cornerstone of IPI’s approach to sustainable preservation practices.

IPI, along with energy-efficiency consultants Herzog/Wheeler & Associates, began work with the Library of Congress in 1998 to measure and evaluate HVAC system performance, make improvements to storage conditions and lower operating costs.  This partnership helped IPI develop sustainable preservation practices, refine a process to define optimal climates and manage dynamic environmental conditions.  Current research at IPI, funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services and the National Endowment for the Humanities, continues this focus on “green” preservation strategies.

During the next year, Future Directions Symposia will cover the journey that stewards of the human cultural record have made—from fairly clear paths for traditional and legacy collections, to the current crossroads of vast and changing collections in hard economic times, to future routes for broad and long-term access to the mixed-collection formats of the 21st century.

The Oct. 20 symposium is sponsored by the Preservation Directorate of the Library of Congress, the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) and IPI.

The mission of the Library’s Preservation Directorate is to assure long-term, uninterrupted access to the intellectual content of the Library’s collections, either in original or reformatted form.  The directorate coordinates and oversees all Library-wide activities relating to the preservation and physical protection of Library materials.  For more information, visit

CLIR has been a leader in fostering the management and expansion of the public’s access to digital and non-digital information.  CLIR was created in 1997 as an independent, nonprofit organization through the merger of the Council on Library Resources and the Commission on Preservation and Access.

IPI was formally created in 1985 as a partnership between the Rochester Institute of Technology and the Society for Imaging Science and Technology.


PR 10-213
ISSN 0731-3527