Newberry Library Stack Building
Environmental Preservation Standards at the Newberry Library

Paul Banks was always looking ahead to new developments in the field. For this reason, he began to research the effect of long term collection storage conditions in the 1970s. Banks concluded that because the best storage for books and manuscripts requires a temperature that is uncomfortable for researchers, the collection storage unit should remain entirely separate from reader services.[[#_ftn1|[1]]1 As conservator of the Newberry Library, Banks used this research to influence the design of the Newberry Library Stack Building. This building, completed in 1982, houses most of the library’s collections. [[#_ftn2|[2]]2

The building is ten stories high, windowless, and comprised of a double-shell construction. It has a computer monitored system of security and fire detection as well as an environmental system that regulates temperature and humidity and an air filtration system. Banks had high standards for the air quality of the stack building and suggested the implementation of a three stage filtration system. The system maintains a temperature of 60F and an RH of 45 percent.[[#_ftn3|[3]]3 For more information on the particulars of how this system is run, please visit:

According to Gary Frost, the successful completion of the Newberry Library Stack Building led to a national standard for collection storage environments. It also set a national trend of remote storage and increased digital access to original materials.[[#_ftn4|[4]]4

[[#_ftnref1|[1]]1 Frost, Gary. "Founding Futurist of the Book: Paul Banks, 2000." 2003.
[[#_ftnref2|[2]]2 Newberry Library, "Conservation Department." 2009
[[#_ftnref3|[3]]3 Ibid
[[#_ftnref4|[4]]4 Frost, "Founding Futurist of the Book: Paul Banks, 2000."