AUSTIN, Texas—EJS Systems Inc., a Houston environmental room company, has provided a 1,000-cubic-foot freezing chamber to be used for conservation purposes at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin.
The chamber, which has a state-of-the-art, computer-based control panel, will be used to treat books, manuscripts and other items that have suffered waterdamage or which have bug infestations.
“It’s a resource we sorely need,” said Jim Stroud, chief conservation officer at the Ransom Center, one of the world’s finest cultural archives. “It’s not uncommon for us to get a collection that has been stored in a basement and when it comes in, it is damp or even wet. We are extremely grateful to EJS for giving us this very valuable resource at no cost to the Ransom Center.”
The chamber was donated to the Ransom Center by Jeff Hunt, president of EJS Systems, which has been the vendor for environmental rooms at other University of Texas at Austin departments and University of Texas System components.
The chamber, which can quickly lower temperatures to –30° F and reduce humidity during warm up or storage, is effective in halting water damage to books, papers and photographs. The process can keep ink from running, book covers from warping and mold from growing. The 10 x 10 x 10 foot chamber also can be used to kill insects in books and other items.
In the past, Stroud said, conservators at the Ransom Center have used the freezing process to kill insects infesting books, costumes and some antique saddles, and to halt water damage to a group of books from the General Libraries.
Stroud said before the EJS Systems chamber was delivered, conservators used two kitchen-size freezers, which proved inadequate. They also used freezing chambers in the university’s College of Engineering, at Jester dormitory and at a San Antonio meat locker.
When the chamber is not in use by the Ransom Center it will be available to other university departments.