StaffGuide: Preservation

Preservation information and resources

What is it?

From the American Institute for Conservation wiki on pest management:

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a system of pest management implemented by museums and library storage facilities and is aimed at the long-term control and prevention of common pest destruction in collections. IPM is designed to prevent pest damage to collections in the most effective means, without causing harm to the collections themselves or the curators and museum staff working with them. There is not one method for implementing IPM into a museum or library storage facility; it is a multi-system method, which allows options for the most effective management plan in different situations.

Problem Pests

Pests can damage collections, and looking out for any pest activity will help us identify and eliminate the offenders.

When they find their way inside the building, certain insects and all rodents are problematic. Their presence may also indicate that there are larger problems with the building itself. Use the Museum Pests identification tool to help with identifying pests.

Specific pests to watch for:

  • Cockroaches (American and Oriental) - may feed on materials directly
  • Silverfish - may feed on finished paper, sizing, and glue
  • Psocids (booklice) - don't harm collections, but are indicators of high humidity; feed on microscopic mold
  • Bookworms (cigarette beetle) - larvae feed on glue, tunnel through paper as they grow bigger
  • Clothes moths - larvae may feed on fabrics
  • Rodents - chew through materials, leave waste behind
  • Bedbugs - don't harm collections, but can impact human health

What attracts pests?

  • Food sources
  • Water sources
  • Dusty/dirty areas

A clean and dry building is less likely to attract undesirable pests.


If you find any of the above pests in collection areas in the building, let Preservation know when and where you found them. If it's possible to remove the pest from the building, feel free to do so. Pests like crickets and spiders don't need to be reported.

Use your best judgment to report any findings. For example, a single cockroach by an entry door can be removed without reporting it, but a roach nest among bookshelves should be reported to your supervisor and Preservation immediately. If you're unsure, default to reporting a pest instance.