Pest Management in an Archive

What is it, and why do we need it?

As we begin making bigger and better changes for the archive, one major adjustment currently being worked on is the creation of a standardized Integrated Pest Management (IPM) policy. IPM is a program put in place in order to effectively protect archives from damaging insects. For this, we use a number of preventative measures including cleaning and housekeeping routines, pest monitoring, and environmental monitoring. While we already maintain some of the procedures being outlined in the updated IPM, creating a written standard to look to in all future endeavors will streamline our processes to allow for better time management and strengthen our work efforts.

The Pests

dead cockroach on its back
Gasp! The ghost of this pest might be wandering our subbasement as we speak. 

One major part of IPM is being able to properly identify and prevent insect habitation in our spaces. Insects and other creepy crawlies like lizards and frogs can cause a real problem for collections, which can be a prime source of food for many insect variants. This can cause irreversible damage and is therefore important to protect the archive against. While a roach here or there doesn’t seem like much of a problem, infestation can quickly set in if not taken care of properly.

Through our own experiences, we have found that, while lizards don’t pose much of a threat and provide natural pest management, they are still an animal we don’t want in our spaces. Likewise, the carcasses of deceased pests can attract more pests and create unnecessary issues. While we don’t have many problems when it comes to pests in our spaces, our main concerns at any given time are ants, roaches, and silverfish as well as the stray lizard.


Pest management doesn’t just entail the inspection and monitoring of pests who’ve found their way into our library spaces. While that is a major part of it, keeping spaces clean and with minimal trash or debris available is also how we enlist preventative measures (even just paper can keep unpleasant guests fed and happy!)

The pandemic has given us a moment of reflection on our cleaning practices as well, and has been a point of inspiration for our procedures moving forward. Alongside the preservation librarian, I have been brainstorming and researching what needs to be done to best simplify the processes we undergo here in Special Collections. This includes identifying the procedures we need to fulfill and using our project management system, Freedcamp, to create circulating tasks for weekly, monthly, and yearly inspection and cleanings.

screenshot of a task list
Screenshot of the new weekly cleaning schedule on Freedcamp.

At the same time, adding in new processes like creating a schedule for deep cleaning air purifiers and dehumidifiers and the dusting and cleaning of surfaces and storage areas throughout the archive is a much-needed update. Having daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly schedules that address the needs of the archive as a public space will help us stay organized in our day-to-day operations but also assist in the identification and prevention of pests and other environmental concerns on a more consistent basis.

Environmental Monitoring

One of the processes we go through on a daily basis is keeping track of our environmental signatures like humidity and air flow. In terms of environmental monitoring, we have always kept an eye out for things like cracks in the walls, mold outbreaks, floor warping or weather-stripping issues. However, it’s mainly been a “see something, say something” procedure. We’ve come to the conclusion that we finally have the capacity to create a semesterly schedule to specifically check all of our areas for these environmental concerns. We’ve even had discussions on ceiling tile surveys, which are necessary for making sure leaks and other problems from higher floors don’t spread to our areas.

list of tasks
A look at some proposed actions for the updated IPM policy.

The Special Collections & Archives Division of the Florida State University Libraries aims to promote excellence in the care and use of collections. We do this through the preservation and practical treatment of our collections for the use of the university and its patrons, and by supporting all opportunities for discovery and scholarship. IPM policies and other procedures are just another way we strive to meet that goal!

Published by Michaela Westmoreland

Project Manager at FSU Special Collections & Archives

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