Environmental Assessment in Manuscripts Library and Storages of Semi-Active Record at Sultanate of Oman

Environmental Assessment in Manuscripts Library and Storages of Semi-Active Record at Sultanate of Oman

Nahed Salem (Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), Muscat, Sultanate of Oman), Sabah Abdul-Wahab (Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), Muscat, Sultanate of Oman) and Sappurd Ali (National Engineering and Scientific Commission (NESCOM), Islamabad, Pakistan)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/ijkm.2013070105


Indoor environmental factors have been associated with deterioration of vital library and archival assets. The assessment of environmental factors affecting the library and document collections due to their inappropriate levels was the main objective of current study. In order to fulfill this objective the measurements of indoor environmental parameters were taken in manuscripts library and documents storage buildings of various Ministries of Sultanate of Oman. The measured values of these parameters were compared with the permitted values defined in various international standards/guidelines. The results of the study showed that the observed levels of environmental factors inside these buildings were not within the stipulated limits. The quality of indoor air at the studied locations was not appropriate for long term protection and preservation of their precious collections. Hence some preventive measures must be taken to safeguard these documentary assets. Practical implications - The indoor environments of library and archival collection buildings are very important for the protection and preservation of documentary assets. The study provides very useful information about the harmful indoor environmental factors and their effects on vital library and archival collections. This work would definitely help the concerning authorities to take remedial measures to control the inappropriate levels of these factors.
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Knowledge Management (KM) is primarily the ability to manage the knowledge. The main objective of KM is to ensure that knowledge is collected and stored in an effective way which is efficient for the organization to retrieve and use it. There are many definitions of KM, but we prefer two of them. The first one was what Duhon (1998) described by saying: “Knowledge management is a discipline that promotes an integrated approach to identifying, capturing, evaluating, retrieving, and sharing all of an enterprise's information assets. These assets may include databases, documents, policies, procedures, and previously uncaptured expertise and experience in individual workers.” The second definition of KM was made by Jennex (2010) who described it as “the practice of selectively applying knowledge from previous experiences of decision-making to current and future decision making activities with the express purpose of improving the organization’s effectiveness.

KM is certainly important as it helps all sorts of organizations and makes them more productive. Jennex (2010) pointed out the importance of KM in today’s world by saying: “we need Knowledge Management because we need a formal process to help organizations identify, capture, store, and retrieve critical knowledge. We need KM processes to help organizations deal with changing storage strategies. We need KM to help us deal with the transience of knowledge workers. We need KM processes to help organizations manage a glut of knowledge. We need KM to ensure we apply knowledge correctly to differing situations”.

The storage media (i.e., utilization of stored knowledge) can be severely degenerated by range of environmental factors. Among these: temperature, humidity, particulates and gaseous pollutants tend to be the most common and damaging (Karbowska-Berent et al., 2011). Therefore, capturing knowledge commonly is not enough. Hansen et al. (1999) pointed out the importance of a representation and effective storage strategy to the survival of documentary materials. In order to extend the lives of storage media and prevent their degeneration, it is important to monitor regularly the indoor air quality parameters in these storage media. In that regard, Forde (2002) and Peters (1996) stated that environmental control and monitoring is one of the keys to sustainable collection management in libraries and archives.

Inappropriate levels of temperature and relative humidity can affect chemical, physical and biological decay processes in records and archival collections. Decay reactions such as the breakdown of cellulose in paper constitute chemical damage. The speed of decay is increased in warm and damp conditions because of more energy. The rate of change for many chemical reactions is doubled for each increase in temperature of 10 °C, and for some unstable materials may double with an increase of only 5 °C. Library and archive materials are hygroscopic, readily absorbing and releasing moisture. They respond to diurnal and seasonal changes in temperature and relative humidity by expanding and contracting. Dimensional changes accelerate deterioration and lead to such visible physical damage as cockling paper, flaking ink, warped covers on books, and cracked emulsion on photographs. Vulnerability to the physical damage caused by human activities, such as poor handling or packing, is increased in hot dry conditions. Biological damage is caused by organisms such as mold or insects, and is much more common when conditions are damp and warm (Henderson, 2010).

The airborne contaminants in gaseous and particulates form can seriously jeopardize the preservation of library and archival media. The gaseous pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and ozone form acidic compounds in the presence of airborne moisture, which damage materials through hydrolysis and promote oxidative reactions. These pollutants can accelerate the breakdown of archival media, causing paper to become discolored and brittle, microfilm to develop redox blemishes (e.g., red spots), the silver in black and white photographic prints and negatives to mirror, color photographs to change hue, and leather to become weak and powdery through the process described as red rot (Silverman, 2012).

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