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Collections Vol 8 N4

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"Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals" is a multi-disciplinary peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the discussion of all aspects of handling, preserving, researching, and organizing collections. Curators, archivists, collections managers, preparators, registrars, educators, students, and others contribute.

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Special Issue: International Symposium on Cultural Property Risk Analysis

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This collection of essays features papers from the International Symposium and Workshop on Cultural Property Risk Analysis, an event devoted to an increasingly important aspect of cultural heritage: risk assessment and loss mitigation. The Symposium and Workshop were held in September 2011 at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa in Monte de Caparica (Portugal) and in association with the ICOM-CC Preventive Conservation Working Group.

The papers selected for this issue of the journal, and the subsequent one, thus present a range of approaches clustered around the creation of a risk model and the means of risk analysis. Their contents offer incredible insight as to risk assessment and loss mitigation within the context of cultural heritage. For cultural heritage, as a type of collection, is exposed to conditions that impact its sustainability in both the short and long term. Thus, readers of the journal will find interest in a number of the papers.

A debt of gratitude must be paid to Rob Waller, Guest Editor of this issue and Editorial Board member of the journal, for his interest in assembling papers from this symposium solelydedicated to risk-based perspective and strategies. I am grateful for his suggestion of having Collections serve as the venue for putting these papers into print, as the journal’s reach indeed extends beyond the practical and the philosophical—premises of journal founder, Hugh Genoways—to include such stimulating proceedings from symposia.

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Critical Knowledge Gaps in Environmental Risk Assessment and Prioritising Research

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David Thickett

English Heritage, Rangers House, Chesterfield Walk, London, SE108QX, UK; email: david.thickett@english-heritage.org.uk

Paul Lankester

English Heritage, English Heritage, Rangers House, Chesterfield Walk, London, SE108QX, UK; email: paul.lankester@english-heritage.org.uk

Abstract The scientific underpinning for the effects of environment on highly transformed archaeological materials is weak. Archaeological iron has been intensively studied recently, but the three publications about copper alloys disagree on critical RH thresholds and no work on pollutant effects has been published. This paper will assess the present state of knowledge and identify critical knowledge gaps.

The effect of VOCs on organic materials has received very little attention. A recently started project, MEMORI will address this issue. The effects of acetic acid and other VOCs will be assessed. A more economic measurement system will be developed to address the cost barrier presently impeding VOC analyses in heritage atmospheres.

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Distinguishing between the Map and the Territory: Synergy in Agent-based Approaches to Risk Assessment

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Joel Taylor

Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU), Postboks 736, Sentrum, N–0105, Oslo, Norway; email: joel.taylor@niku.no

Abstract This paper reviews the use of "agents" of deterioration or change in heritage risk assessment and examines the implications of using an agent-based approach to characterising risk. The paper highlights some problems connected to risk assessment that stem from using “agents,” including the need to represent synergistic action between agents, a hierarchy amongst agents where some have direct and indirect impact upon exposure to other agents and the lack of effective representation of inherent deterioration. The paper briefly discusses various approaches that might mitigate the problems identified. These include changing the way in which risk is viewed to a more conceptually integrated approach, adding more techniques to risk assessment and risk management, such as dependency modelling, and using more advanced statistical approaches, such as principal component analysis.

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The Marriage of Risk Assessment and Significance Assessment: Challenges and Opportunities

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Veronica M. Bullock

Significance International Pty Ltd, Canberra, PO Box 1221, Fyshwick, ACT, 2609, Australia; email: info@signficanceinternational.com Web site: www.significanceinternational.com

Abstract The results of risk assessments and significance assessments can help collecting organisations set work priorities. However, the complementary nature of the two methods, deriving from different professional traditions, means that recommended priorities may differ. The desire of cultural heritage risk analysts to include significance determinations in their workings is understandable. In the more comprehensive risk analysis systems, this inclusion depends on the quantification of changes in value due to changes in states of objects or collections, which can be difficult to deliver. Significance assessment purists reject the reduction of complex, shifting meanings to numerical values because of the apparent rigidity and certainty this implies.

The purpose of this essay is to provoke discussion. Should risk assessment or significance assessment come first when decision-making for collections? Who has the power of veto if opinions differ? Do concepts of 'value,' as differentiated from significance, assist? Will professional demarcations doom the marriage of these two hopefuls?

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PRISM: Software for Risk Assessment and Decision-Making in Libraries

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Barclay W. Ogden

Director for Preservation, UC Berkeley Library; email: bogden@library.berkeley.edu

Abstract PRISM is a software instrument developed by the University of California to enable UC libraries to analyze and manage risks of damage and loss to their collections. PRISM is designed to use a database of quantitative evidence, i.e., statistical data collected by public agencies, claims reported by insurance companies nationwide, and compiled expert opinion, to inform and guide its users.

This article, based on a talk given at the International Symposium on Risk Management for Cultural Property in Lisbon, in September 2011, provides an overview and progress report on work underway at the University of California (UC) to apply principles of risk analysis and risk management to library collections owned by the University. UC has developed software to support analysis and decision-making, called PRISM (Preservation Risk Information SysteM) that assists users to identify hazards, determine levels of risk, and compare the effectiveness, as well as the cost effectiveness, of options to mitigate recognized risks.

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Disaster Risk Assessment Methods and Response Plans for Cultural Heritage in Taiwan

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Shen-Wen Chien

Professor, Department of Fire Science, Central Police University, No. 56, Shujen Rd, Takang Village, Kueishan Hsiang, Taoyuan County, 33304, Taiwan (R.O.C.); email: una179@mail.cpu.edu.tw

Chun-Chieh Lien

Research Assistant, Department of Fire Science, Central Police University, email: lien1980@gmail.com

Huei-Ru Sie

Research Assistant, Department of Fire Science, Central Police University, email: smilecc16@gmail.com

Yi-Ting Song

Graduate Student, Department of Fire Science and Technology Graduate School of Global Fire Science and Technology, Tokyo University of Science, 1-3 Kagurazaka, Shinjyuku-ku, Tokyo 162-8601 Japan; email: yiting.song@gmail.com

Abstract Precaution and preparation, as established in emergency plans, are the most effective means of disaster mitigation and heritage protection. Emergency plans should include evaluation of cultural heritage assets, including buildings, both contents and structures, as well as surroundings and landscapes. These frameworks are based on common experience and reflect viewpoints shared worldwide. However, due to regulations imposed in Taiwan, it is difficult to achieve the goal of preserving cultural and historical heritages.

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Risk Analysis and Sustainability Identifying and Mitigating Risk in Mechanical System Shutdown Research

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Jeremy R. Linden

Preservation Environment Specialist, Image Permanence Institute, Rochester Institute of Technology, 70 Lomb Memorial Drive, Rochester, NY 14623-5604; email: jrlpph@rit.edu

James M. Reilly

Director, Image Permanence Institute, Rochester Institute of Technology, 70 Lomb Memorial Drive, Rochester, NY 14623-5604; email: jmrpph@rit.edu

Peter H. Herzog

Partner, Herzog/Wheeler & Associates, LLP, 2183 Summit Ave, St. Paul, MN55105-1051; email: Peter-Herzog@msn.com

Abstract Strategic equipment shutdowns are common strategies for saving energy in buildings during unoccupied times. The Image Permanence Institute is testing whether it is possible to significantly reduce energy usage in libraries and other cultural institutions through carefully monitored and risk-managed shutdowns of air-handling units during unoccupied hours in select spaces without compromising the quality of the preservation environment. This paper concentrates on the identification and mitigation of risks and the decision-making process related to experimental shutdown procedures in the currently in-progress three-year project, federally funded in the United States by the Institute for Museum and Library Services. Potential risk factors are identified for candidate spaces and shutdown procedures, options for qualitative and quantitative analyses are presented, and potential benefits in both preservation quality and energy savings are described.

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Energy Savings Trial in the Library of Congress John Adams Building Stacks

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Nancy Lev-Alexander

Head, Collections Stabilization Section, Library of Congress, Conservation Division LMG-38,101 Independence Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20540; phone: 202-707-8844, email: nlal@loc.gov

Abstract In 2009, Preservation staff at the Library of Congress (LoC), working in collaboration with consultants from the Image Permanence Institute (IPI) and Herzog Wheeler Associates (H/W), proposed an experiment to determine whether a programmed nightly shutdown of all HVAC operations within a targeted collection area could achieve significant energy savings without posing unacceptable risk to the long term stability and usefulness of the volumes stored in these stacks. This article will briefly present the reasons for proposing this trial and selecting its location, steps taken to prepare for the shutdown test, results from two years of nightly shutdowns, and lessons learned.

In 2009, Preservation staff at the Library of Congress (LoC), working in collaboration with consultants from the Image Permanence Institute (IPI) and Herzog Wheeler Associates (H/W), proposed an experiment to determine whether a programmed nightly shutdown of all HVAC operations within a targeted collection area could achieve significant energy savings without posing unacceptable risk to the long term stability and usefulness of the volumes stored in these stacks. Multi-year analysis of environmental conditions in this stack area accompanied by detailed study of HVAC operations led us to believe that this experiment would confirm the ability to condition carefully selected collection areas while running HVAC operations in an energy and cost savings mode. This modified HVAC operation initiated in 2010, and still running, has provided an opportunity for preservation staff and building engineers to study how various mechanical settings impact the preservation quality of a critical collection storage area and identify achievable climate targets using existing equipment. Two years since the January 2010 start of this experiment a frequent and close review of data is required along with fine tuning of operational settings. The experiment dovetails neatly with more recent energy-savings HVAC adjustments independently proposed by the building engineers for other collection areas and has provided a template by which to evaluate the preservation impact of such modifications.

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