Low Cost Dust Monitoring at The British Library - IFLA
8 International Preservation News No. 53 May 2011 7-8-9. Scale 2 – Moderate dust. © British Library 10-11-12. Scale 3 – Heavy dust and/or debris. © British Library The largest areas to be surveyed were the storage basements, most of which are shelved with high density mobile shelving. A simple method of recording the location of the different dust levels was needed. The project team considered recording information directly onto excel spreadsheets, using the columns and rows of the spreadsheet to mimic the columns, bays and ranges of shelves but this option was thought to be too timeconsuming at the point of data collection and so was not used. An advantage of the new, purpose-built St Pancras site is that up to date fl oor plans of reading rooms and basements are available. These plans show the layout of the space including, with minimal alteration, the locations and numbering of the ranges of shelving. The plans also show working areas, walkways, doorways and the location of vents. The project team agreed to use the plans to record the identifi ed dust levels.
A colour-coded system was used to record the four dust categories on the fl oor plans as follows: Scale 0: no colour Scale 1: yellow Scale 2: blue Scale 3: pink The information recorded on the plans would then be transferred onto spreadsheets refl ecting the ranges and bays at a later date. Although the British Library operates at a large scale, the principle of establishing a system of visual assessment and using fl oor plans to record the location of dust build-up can be applied to organisations of all sizes. Carrying out the dust survey The assessment and recording of dust was carried out by teams of two people working together. One person carried out the visual assessment and the other person recorded the information directly onto the plans using the colour-coding system. Due to the size of the area being surveyed it was not possible to look at every range of shelves. In each basement compartment, every 3 rd to 4 th range was checked and the results were applied to the adjacent ranges. In the reading rooms, the smaller areas meant that each range could be checked. Each team collected information on the level of dust at four different shelf heights: on canopies (the highest level above shelves and books); the top of ranges (the highest book shelf); mid range (a shelf at mid level); and bottom of range (the lowest shelf). Collecting data in this way allowed the team to compare dust levels in different compartments, see the overall distribution of dust within a compartment, see the distribution of dust by height, and identify the areas of heaviest dust deposit. The data from the fl oorplans was then transferred to spreadsheets to enable the information to be analysed and edited. This was best done by the people who had collected the data, and soon after the information had been gathered to avoid misinterpretation. The grid format of the spreadsheet was used to refl ect the shelf layout and height of shelves, and to separate out information about the shelf canopies (Estates responsibility) from that relating to books and shelves (Collection Care responsibility). The pictures below show the relationship between a markedup fl oorplan for one of the reading rooms, and the same information transferred to a spreadsheet. From the spreadsheet format, the information could be easily edited to present specifi c information for particular purposes. For example, the table 1 shows the Estates department the total extent of canopy cleaning required (in metres) for each of the four basements. Table 1 Table 2 Whereas the table 2 shows the Collection Care department the extent of cleaning of books and shelves required within one compartment. With limited resources available, it was important to be able to compare data across all areas and establish priorities for cleaning. The use of the visual assessment and transfer of data to spreadsheets meant that the areas of highest dust deposit could easily be identifi ed and these areas could therefore be targeted for cleaning. 9 International Preservation News No. 53 May 2011