Sunday, July 05, 2009

In Plain Sight | MLAC

I was once told that the simplest way to destroy a house is to cut a 12 inch-square hole in the roof. Then wait.

Nature has a relentless ability to reclaim what we have borrowed from her, and we should expect that drastic measures will be required for long-term loans whether they are houses, roads, or books. The mission of the Minnesota Library Access Center at the UMN is to preserve rare volumes of the written word, and the archive is a prime example of our human attempts to delay the inevitability of nature.

Housed underground in 600'-long caverns below the West Bank campus (and below a solid layer of limestone), 2.5 million rare books and periodicals will eventually be stored here. In an attempt to stave off decomposition of these precious works, the storage facility is built of a double concrete wall system, waterproofed with multiple membranes, lit with special lamps, and kept a constant 62 degrees with 50% relative humidity.

If you've driven down West River Parkway, you may have seen the two truck-sized delivery doors which have been cut in the side of the river bank. Will nature have any trouble with this one?

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