Collections Demography: Modelling of Collections for Improved Management
Friday, April 27, 2012
About the Lecture:
Collections of heritage objects have a specifically dynamic evolution: they constantly grow and degrade depending on use, environment, and material properties. Understanding of these dynamics is currently lacking, yet could significantly optimize collection management. To do so, significant reference points in an object's life, such as “the point of failure,” need to be defined; therefore, a framework defining (un)acceptable levels of change -- and consequently, of damage -- is necessary.
An extensive set of experiments exploring rates of degradation of historic paper was designed to explore material susceptibility to various agents of change: temperature, humidity, and pollution. The established functions of change (dose-response functions), based on agents such as environment, use, and inherent chemical properties of objects, will be overlaid on existing and new collections survey data (census data). Coupled with an improved understanding of user values and time preferences, damage functions will be developed.
The Collections Demography modelling tool will be based on a holistic understanding of the changing value of collections. It will enable exploration of various environmental and management scenarios and the effect of these on the lifetime of collections, and thus significantly improve sustainable collection management.
The project partners are University College London (UK), University of East Anglia (UK), the National Archives (UK), English Heritage (UK), the Library of Congress (USA), and Nationaal Archief (NL).
Matija Strlic, Senior Lecturer in Sustainable Heritage and Course Director of the MRes Heritage Science, University College of London Centre for Sustainable Heritage
William Lindsay, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Collections Demography project, National Archives, UK
Catherine Dillon, Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Collections Demography project, University College of London Centre for Sustainable Heritage
Nancy Bell, Head of Collection Care, National Archives, UK