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Wireless Technology Safeguards Libraries' Collections

Columbia University Libraries is incorporating new wireless technology into its environmental monitoring program to protect the University's collections. The new equipment, manufactured by Hanwell Instruments Ltd., uses a radio signal to transmit real-time temperature and humidity data through the campus ethernet to work stations in the Libraries' Preservation Division.

High temperature and humidity can speed the chemical deterioration of paper, causing yellowing and brittleness and, if left uncorrected, mold. The Hanwell system uses a unique, dedicated radio frequency secured for the Libraries through FCC licensing.

An important advantage of the Hanwell system over stand-alone dataloggers is the ability to see real-time data. Stand-alone monitors are typically downloaded once a month, so that a temperature or humidity malfunction could potentially go unnoticed for weeks. But the Hanwell system automatically transmits temperature and humidity information directly to librarians' workstations, enabling staff to respond to problems faster.

Butler Library will receive 12 new Hanwell dataloggers to supplement the two that have operated successfully for six months in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library also plans to implement the Hanwell technology.

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Published: Mar 14, 2005
Last modified: Mar 14, 2005

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