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Archival Vault Design

1. Size - Consideration should be given to the shelving and storage cabinets within the vault. Also, future growth of a collection is an important consideration as mechanical equipment selected for a given size vault may have the capacity to handle a larger space. Room size and shape will also vary according to available space in an existing or new building. Allowances for access between shelving and proper air distribution should be considered.

2. Temperature and Humidity - The decisions as to what temperature and humidity levels should be maintained for different collections, lies with the curators and archivists. Initial costs, operating costs, reasonable expectation of life of the collection are all considerations. Whereas temperature set points may vary anywhere between 0°F and 70°F, humidity should never be considered outside of the range of 30%RH to 40%RH.

3. Mechanical System Design - There are basically four configurations in which the conditioning systems for a given storage vault can be designed. Starting with the standard system, they are as follows:

  • Evaporator coils located within the vault itself with remote condensing units, dehumidifiers and humidifiers.
  • Evaporator coils located within the vault itself with remote condensing units, dehumidifiers and humidifiers. Complete redundant evaporator coils and condensing units in addition to primary units.
  • Remote air handlers with air ducted to and from the storage vault. Dehumidifiers and humidifiers are also remote.
  • Remote air handlers with air ducted to and from the storage vault. Dehumidifiers and humidifiers are also remote. Complete redundant air handlers and condensing units in addition to primary units.

The advantages of remote air handlers are that there is no need for technicians to enter the storage vault for maintenance and service of the mechanical equipment. This will allow the room to maintain the required specifications and protect your valuable collection.

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