Integrated Pest Management
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a system of pest management being implemented by museums and library storage facilities 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. The system has five general components: Inspection and Monitoring, Identification of Pests, Climate and Habitat Modification, Treatment and Prevention (IPM Associates, 1996). Taking over the old process of using pesticides, IPM has been successfully implemented in museums and libraries across the world.
The largest part of IPM is the focus on preventing insects and other pests from reaching book and paper collections. Although it is impossible to keep all pests out of a storage facility, careful examination and monitoring of storage areas help prevent damage from occurring. Prevention begins with policies that minimize the introduction of pests into collection areas, including quarantining objects coming into the area to check for signs of pest activity, keeping food contained to a separate area, and instituting regular housekeeping. Housekeeping removes debris and any dead pests that could serve to attract further pests. Other levels of control that help prevent pest damage include a secure building envelope (including door sweeps where necessary), appropriate environmental control (low temperatures and low relative humidity discourage pest activity), and housing that can be easily cleaned and keeps materials off the ground and organized.
Prevention begins with policies that minimize the introduction of pests into collection areas, including quarantining objects coming into the area to check for signs of pest activity, keeping food contained to a separate area, and instituting regular housekeeping. Housekeeping removes debris and any dead pests that could serve to attract further pests. Other levels of control that help prevent pest damage include a secure building envelope (including door sweeps where necessary), appropriate environmental control (low temperatures and low relative humidity discourage pest activity), and housing that can be easily cleaned and keeps materials off the ground and organized.
Climate and Habitat Modification
Any improperly sealed windows or doors, as well as vents and pipes, act as entry points for pests that could cause potential damage to museum and library collections. Pests generally thrive in areas that are damp and warm, with a higher relative humidity. Unfortunately, many storage facilities provide precisely that environment.
One of the major strategies in IPM is manipulating the climate of storage facilities to create a habitat that is inhospitable to most of the common book and paper pests. Keeping the climate cool and dry, with a low relative humidity, creates an environment in which pests do not thrive (National Park Service, 2010). Another important aspect for IPM is maintaining the possible entry routes for these pests. Tightly sealed doors and windows are a very simple, yet important part of IPM. Removing potential food and water sources for the insects is another step in managing the storage environment. With these climate controls, pests are less likely to infest storage facilities, thus keeping book and paper collections away from damage (Patkus, 2007).
Monitoring utilizes adhesive traps to track the number and types of pests present in a collection space. This information can be dependent both on the region and seasonal fluctuations, so checking the traps on a regular basis and keeping records can establish patterns that allow for predictive capabilities, further reducing the risk of pests escalating to damage or an outbreak. Think about how pests move through the space when determining where to place adhesive traps, paying particular attention along floorboards and near entrances.
The goals of this are to identify areas where and when additional control may be needed, and/or where it may be recommended to avoid storing vulnerable materials. In cases where an institution has contractors to handle pests on its grounds, guidelines should be established to take into account the additional concerns of collections including not spraying pesticides on objects.
If there is a pest outbreak, IPM discourages the use of pesticides and other chemical treatments (including mothballs- i.e. napthalene), due to the potential for negative effects on the health of people as well as the collection itself, ranging from causing handling concerns to a reduction in research value. This has particularly been an issue for natural history and anthropology collections, and the range of changes caused to materials are difficult to predict.
Choosing among treatment options involves a number of considerations, and it should kept in mind that not all are safe for all materials. Other considerations involve balancing cost, ability to acquire equipment, and likely size of infestations. Some are more aggressive than others, but all are aimed at eradicating the pest problem with the smallest possibility of harm to the collection and the humans handling the collection as possible.
Non-chemical treatments are the first form of defense suggested in IPM systems. Controlled freezing and controlled atmosphere are the two most successful methods for eradicating pest problems. Controlled freezing is only available for individual objects or small sections of a collection. Each book or paper must be bagged individually because it is difficult to control the humidity of freezers being used. Rapid freezing and slow thawing are the two most important aspects of this method (Patkus, 2007).
Controlled atmosphere involves decreasing oxygen, through the use of oxygen scavengers and/or gasses such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen or argon to deprive pests of elements necessary to sustaining their lives. This method is usually completed in a sealed chamber. Alternatively, vacuums and traps can be used to quickly eliminate pest problems (National Park Service, 2010).
Chemical treatments are another, more aggressive, option, which has more potential for creating hazards for the collection and those handling it. Fumigants and repellants are the most commonly used chemical treatments. Aerosol sprays, fogging, and attractants can be used to spray in cracks and crevices to attract and kill pests. Although these are able to quickly kill many pests, there are many long and short term health concerns for those working in the storage facilities. There is also a possibility for long term damage to the books and paper materials themselves. Because of this, chemical treatments are only recommended in situations in which all other options have been exhausted (IPM Associates, 1996).
Common Threats to Paper Collection
A major part of IPM is inspecting a collection for signs of common pests that could be detrimental to historic books and paper. Generally, pests are attracted to the adhesives and starches found in bookbindings rather than the paper itself, though some pests will attack the paper and cardboard in books directly.
The most common pests found in library and museum collections are cockroaches, firebrats and silverfishes. In an attempt to reach the adhesives in books, these pests can burrow and chew through paper, destroying the value of the book (Patkus, 2007). Signs of these pests include droppings, carcasses, skinning, and holes in the artifacts or shelving nearby. With regular inspection, a small infestation of pests can quickly be eliminated with traps, keeping the problem from developing further. If the pests continue to be an issue, or there are increasing sightings of these pests, monitoring can lead to rapid implementation of other IPM strategies (Missouri Secretary of State, 2001).
“Integrated Pest Management”. 2001. In Conservation Services Notes. Missouri Secretary of State Conservation Services. Accessed, April 17, 2013. .
“Introduction to Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for Urban Landscapes”. 1996. IPM Access. IMP Associates, Inc. Accessed April 17, 2013..
National Park Service. 2010. “Integrated Pest Management Manual”. National Park Service. U.S. Department of the Interior. Accessed April 16, 2013. .
Ogden, S. ed. 1992. "Integrated Pest Management." In Preservation of Library and Archival Materials. Andover, MA: Northeast Document Conservation Center.
Patkus, B.L. 2007. “3.10 Integrated Pest Management”. In Preservation Leaflets. Northeast Document Conservation Center. Accessed April 16, 2013. .
This is an up-to-date website managed by professionals aware of the special considerations for pest management when cultural materials are concerned. It includes resources on the basics of establishing an IPM program and guidelines on using different traps, as well as pest identification fact sheets and treatment fact sheets, the latter of which presents the pros, cons, and other considerations when determining which method of control to use to handle pest issues. It also includes instructions for how to join the pestlist, an email distribution list that allows members to reach a range of professionals who can provide additional information or to stay aware of the latest issues in pest management.
C2CC has several sections that provide information on IPM, including two hour-long recording webinars “Stressed About Pests?”  . While the first focuses on the monitoring and mitigation aspects of IPM, the second discusses treatment options, including helpful information on the types of materials that cannot be used with different methods and other considerations. There is also a forum where users can post specific questions and receive answers from other institutions and moderator experts, as well as a list of resources. Resources include links to: Insects Limited’s “Museum Pests” poster, NPS’s 11 Step Process to IPM, a sample institutional IPM plan, AIC’s Sample Checklist for Pesticide Residue, and SPNCH’s report on food in institutions.
“The Museum Environment: Biological Factors” section provides text summarizing some of steps and specific concerns regarding IPM. Note 3/1 is focused on mitigation at all five stages of control- avoid, block, detect, respond, and treat- especially through quarantine, examination, and monitoring. Note 3/2 lists locations to inspect around a building, while Note 3/3 presents a discussion of the risks and operation (specifically the balance between duration and temperature) for low temperature treatment should damaged objects be found.
This popular series features 2-8 page summaries on specific topics, often including lists of suppliers and references. The resources on IPM begin with 3-7 on monitoring, covering the types of traps, where to place them, and how to record and interpret results, ending with an action check list. 3-11 deals with pest damage, with pests grouped by the types of materials with which they are likely to be associated (textile, wood, paper). 3-8 discusses the non-pesticide options for controlling pests, while 3-6 is about the specific pros and cons and procedure to freeze objects, and 3-9 details the materials, construction, and use of anoxic treatment.
This interactive website is meant to guide users through the pest management process. It has many color pest images with accompanying information, and then breaks down the steps of prevention, monitoring, and treatment into videos and short steps. It also has a database of citation information for other IPM references as well as a database where other institutions have added records of their found pests.