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Preservation Interest Group

Guide to provide a forum to learn and share ideas about the various aspects of preservation.

Meeting Overview

The March 26, 2019 Preservation Interest Group meeting on the exhibition practices for libraries and archives was attended by 13 people representing 11 Capital District institutions.

Facilitators Ann C. Kearney and Karen E. Kiorpes, both from the University at Albany, provided and overview of best practices on a budget and opened the floor for questions on institutions' specific issues. 

The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, September 17, 2019, 9:30 - 11:00 am at CDLC. The topic will be Emergency Planning. 

Meeting Notes

Temperature - 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit is best for objects and people. 

Avoid exterior walls because of moisture and temperature fluctuations. If must use exterior walls, make sure items on display are not directly touching wall.

Fragile Items

  • May want to put good facsimiles on display instead of originals. Many museums do this. Besides preservation, more inexpensive options with using facsimiles - e.g. can mount on foam core with double sided tape. 
  • Discussion among participants of the goals of display. Some institutions encourage use of facsimiles; others want the original. 


  • Light damage is affected by both the time an item is exposed to light and the intensity of the light. 
    • The stronger the light, the shorter the items should be on display. 
    • Consider the most sensitive item in an exhibit when planning the length of an exhibit. 
    • Can put covers over exhibit cases and have lights on timers to cut down on time items are exposed to light. 
  • Light is measured in lux hours. 
    • Highly light sensitive objects, such as works done in pastels, shoud only be on display for 150,00 lux hours per year. 
    • Light meters can be used to measure light in rooms, display cases. Accurate ones are expensive, especially if you only need to use them infrequently. If your institution is local to UAlbany, Karen Kiorpes is willing to visit and measure the light in your exhibit area. 
  • UV light
    • Ideally, no UV light in exhibit area. White LED light has no UV and little heat. 
    • LED lights - after abotu 5 years the lights will still work, but the color may shift, which can affect the way the items look on display. Be sure to keep records of when lights were put in or changed. 
  • Rooms can be very overlit. Can remove every other light bulb to make it better lighting for exhibits. 
  • Flash photography and photocopying do not give off enough light to damage items unless done often. 

Display Furniture

  • Try to avoid wood. Wood off-gases a lot, especially oak. Finishes and veneers also off-gas, so closed wooden exhibit cases are problematic. If these are the only display cabinets you have, keep exhibits short. 
  • Avoid handmade wooden cases. If someone does make cases, finish them with latex paints and let them breathe before using for exhibits. 
  • Use a matte board or mylar as a barrier between wooden shelves and objects you put on display in the case. 
  • Avoid lights IN cases because of heat generated. If you need to have light in case, use fiber optic light. 
  • Avoid silk as a background or barrier in case. Silk degrades quickly. 
  • Muslin, cotton, linen and polyester are good materials for backgrounds and lining. Good idea to wash before using to remove additives, but this can give a more wrinkled appearance. 
  • Silica gel - It can soak up humidity, but only in completely sealed exhibit cases (no air exchanged between case and outside environment), and the silica must be conditioned to the environment you want, so it can difficult to use correctly. 
  • White or neutral is preferred over color. Some color backgrounds and barriers may bleed color, especially when wet. 

Display Tools

  • Foam core - Doesn't warp.
  • Book pillows & book cradles - Good if you want to display open book. Book pillow good for fragile books. 
  • Book support system - More expensive, but more versatile than cradles or pillows. Multiple pieces of foam that can be moved around for different size books. 
  • Lucite frames - For documents if put document in mylar L-sleeve first. 


  • Take photos of exhibit and document everything in each case. Besides good documentation if items are stolen, this is a good record to look back on what you did for exhibits in the past. 
  • Put exhibits in locations where there is a fair bit of traffic so people can be monitored, not alone with material for big stretches of time. 
  • Make sure security includes exhibit area as part of their routine rounds. 

Next Meeting

Tuesday, September 17, 2019, 9:30-11:00 am

The topic is Emergency Planning.  

We will discuss organizing as a team to build and write your emergency plan for your library, archives and museum materials for more effective preparedness and response. Discussion will address the critical contents and design of a good plan for your library.  

For more information and to register, visit




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