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Subject: Plants in the Library

Plants in the Library

From: Julie Page <julie_page>
Date: Thursday, May 27, 1993
Plant related mold and insects are a definite cause for concern from a
health standpoint.  Soil and organic potting mixes harbor molds which
can trigger allergic reactions in people.  One of the few environmental
problems encountered at UCSD was in a science building.  After
considerable time and testing for interior pollutants, the problem was
traced to a potted plant.  In cases like this, the problem may be worst
right after the plants are watered.

Fungus gnats are a frequent problem with overwatering.  At UCSD we have
had intermittent problems with fungus gnats after the Central University
Library addition opened.  The addition has five large planted
lightwells, which bring light into the underground structure.  Ants and
mushrooms have also been a problem in the planters.  Frequent fumigation
of library spaces to control such infestations is not welcomed by
library staff, and rightly so.

The best approach is not to get involved in "the plant business" at all!
It is very difficult to remove permanent planters once they are in the
says: "Reduce the number of plants indoors.  If possible, replace all
live plants with artificial ones.  Although the ambience may be damaged,
artificial plants do not contribute moisture to the atmosphere.  There
should never be indoor planted areas in a library or archive." (p. 75)

On a final note, I recently had to respond to a UCSD library newsletter
suggestion that staff use plants to "contribute to the health of our
(library) environment ... by cleansing the indoor air of pollutants."
"According to experts, just one plant for every 100 square feet of floor
space can make a difference.  Keep in mind that plants do specialize --
different plants absorb different pollutants."  And then there followed
a list of type/source of pollutant and the "solution"-- the appropriate
plant.  The information was cited as from: For Our Customers, published
by a financial institution in 1992 and was said to be based on NASA
research.  We have no ban on personal plants within the library, but I
have made sure that staff are aware of the broader health as well as
preservation concerns.

Julie Page
Preservation Librarian
University of Calif.
San Diego

                  Conservation DistList Instance 6:64
                  Distributed: Saturday, May 29, 1993
                        Message Id: cdl-6-64-004
Received on Thursday, 27 May, 1993

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