The New Library & Archives Vault

The New Library & Archives Vault

The new underground vault at the American Institute of Physics is ready to become home for the Wenner Collection, other rare books, manuscripts, and archival photographs that are part of the Niels Bohr Library & Archives collections. The space was redesigned and upgraded with the financing from designated AIP funds and a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.


The equipment of the space includes a properly sized HVAC system (to maintain consistent environmental control), data loggers for temperature and humidity, and fire suppression system FM-200, which is the gold standard for preservation storage areas. The target-year-round temperatures are between 60-62°F, and the target relative humidity range is between a summer maximum of 55% and a winter minimum of 30-35%. The space has a reinforced raised floor which allows for electric cables to run underneath the floor and a water sensor system to prevent water damage events.

According to the assessment of SpaceSaver, Inc. the basement capacity is up to 4,461 linear feet of secure and climate-controlled storage for the special and archival collections. Our new vault offers flexible expansion space which allows for approximately 1,100 linear feet of archival storage and approximately 7,000-9,000 volumes of rare books. The shelving in the vault is adjustable and compatible with the archival storage containers, books, and book enclosures. It allows special preservation containers to be stored properly. Thanks to the superior environmental controls in the vault, materials will be protected from oxidation and damage due to cycles of contraction and expansion from temperature and humidity changes. A future planned renovation on the second floor will have a space for a small cold storage system for color photographs and negatives. This is a significant protection from chemical decay in color photographs and increased brittleness due to dryness.

After the special collections and archival materials are moved to the vault, the library staff will have a new opportunity to utilize the library space for growth in the modern book collection. Last but not least, the vault increases the security of the Wenner Collection and other valuable collections in the history of physics and allied sciences held at the Niels Bohr Library & Archives.

About the Author

Gergana Kostova

Gergana Kostova

Gergana Kostova was the Rare Book Project Cataloger. She holds an advanced degree in history of literature from Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski, Bulgaria,  and a master’s of library science from the University of Maryland, College Park. She has a background in electronics and digitization. Here at the Niels Bohr Library and Archives she is cataloging rare books and serials from Wenner Collection. One of her favorite books from the library is Sylva Sylvarum by Francis Bacon.

Caption: Images from Sylva Sylvarum

See all articles by Gergana Kostova

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