The Art Library reopened to the public on 6 September, after 25 days of renovation work on its reading room. This intervention in the areas accessible to the public was preceded by another, longer, intervention to refurbish the storage areas.
Both interventions had as main objective the modernization of the electric system, intrusion, air treatment, refrigeration, temperature control and protection against fires and floods, aiming at improving the storage and preservation conditions of the thousands of documents that integrate its collection and, above all, the consultation conditions.
Despite the constraints inherent to an intervention of this nature carried out in the middle of a pandemic, the library kept its services open most of the time and most of its collections accessible to the public.
25 days of renovation of the reading room
250 days of intervention in storage areas
5,300 metres of power cables
3,150 metres of network cables
2,200 metres of fire lines
320 LED lamps
67 metres of flood detection cables
> 100,000 books and periodicals moved
7,000 metres of polyethylene foam
5,000 metres of plastic sheeting
1,500 packing boxes
800 moisture regulator sachets
450 parcels with special formats
400 ainsect traps
What has changed in the storage spaces
The renovation project was intended to achieve three key objectives: upgrade the technical systems that guarantee the preservation conditions of books and periodicals, to reinforce the security of the collection and the teams, and to make the working and circulation conditions of the documents more efficient. The original electrical system was completely renovated, and fluorescent lamps gave way to LED lamps, activated by motion sensors, which are more energy efficient and suitable for the preservation of the collections. Early fire, flood and intrusion detection systems were installed and emergency lighting was revised. The air-conditioning system, essential for the environmental stability of the documents, was resized for a more balanced distribution of temperature and relative humidity. The original ducts were replaced, and more environmental control probes were installed, for a more rigorous monitoring of the temperature and humidity conditions of the more than 900 square meters of the library’s book depository and other textual documentation. New use was given to storage areas for the collections, and the ceilings, floors and furniture were renovated.
To adapt the building to the preservation needs of the collections, storage spaces for archives and collections have been redefined, enhanced, and created. Along with the improvement in the preservation conditions of textual documents, the library now has adapted space to install the freezer cabinets that, at -22 ºC, house chemically unstable and potentially inflammable photographic species from some of its photographic collections.
To guarantee the safety of the collection during the works, more than 100,000 books, periodicals and dozens of collections, and archives were moved. These were stored in boxes lined with polyethylene foam with humidity regulators, and transferred to other spaces in order to guarantee their stability during the intervention period.
Items with special formats or that presented specific fragilities were wrapped individually or in small sets. The documents kept in the shelves were duly isolated and protected from possible mechanical damage or the deposit of dust, soot or dirt that could jeopardise their integrity.
What has changed in the reading room
Along with the improvement of security conditions and preservation of its book deposit, the library now has a renovated, modernised and more comfortable reading room.
Besides the improvement of the technical infrastructures such as the electrical system, fire detection and air conditioning, the existing anti-theft equipment was replaced by more modern technology and access control equipment with radiofrequency identification was installed.
Finally, the most visible improvements for the public who attend the Art Library are the new floor covering, the creation of a new service area closer to the reader and the installation of individual power sockets embedded in the tops of the consultation desks (a process that is still in progress).