Launching the Vault Project

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December 5, 2018

Launching the Vault Project

Get Ready for the Makeover Montage...

Space is always an issue for libraries and archives and we’re very lucky to have the support of AIP and our building, the American Center for Physics, in our endeavor to convert a former server room into a state of the art archival vault. Not only will this space hold some of our rarest archival material, it will also be the future home of this blog’s very own Wenner Collection.

In support of this goal, we’re pleased to say that we were recently awarded $300,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities in the form of a Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections Implementation Grant. NEH designed this grant to support preventative conservation measures to prolong the useful life of collections to help cultural institutions preserve large and diverse holdings of humanities materials for future generations.

ACP Opening Day049-edit.jpg

The "vault" as it appeared on opening day of our building in 1993 when it was used as a server room.

The "vault" as it appeared on opening day of our building in 1993 when it was used as a server room.

AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives

In October we had our very first official vault kick off meeting with all the involved parties on our end, as well as a number of the vendors we will be working with to plan this major project. The first year of the project will focus on planning and designing the best possible space for our collections. The space we’ve selected in our building already has raised floors, secure doors, and a waterless fire suppression system. But we also need to make sure the appropriate vapor barriers are in place before we install new HVAC units to regulate the temperature and humidity for the best long-term preservation of our rarest books and archival materials. Our goal isn’t just to get to the best possible temperature and humidity, but to find the best point which we can maintain forever. Our current spaces experience a lot of fluctuation throughout the year and we want this space to be as stable as possible.

The second year will be all about construction. That’s when we get to implement all these dreams and plans. In addition to building walls and installing HVAC units we will also be installing high density shelving that can best use what is a bit of an oddly shaped space. After all, the room was originally designed to hold servers, not rare books and manuscripts.

The third year of the project is all about evaluating our space. We want to monitor the new vault for a year to make sure we’re setting the right standards and that we can continue to achieve them for as long as possible. However, we hope to move the Wenner Collection books and our existing rare book collection into the vault in 2020! So stay tuned as we continue to make progress on this exciting project!