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Internet of things in the archives: novel tools for environmental monitoring of archival collections

Monica Maceli (School of Information, Pratt Institute, Manhattan, New York, USA)

Records Management Journal

ISSN: 0956-5698

Article publication date: 12 February 2020

Issue publication date: 22 July 2020




Cultural heritage archives rely on environmental monitoring devices, such as dataloggers or more complex networked systems, to ensure collection preservation through collecting temperature, humidity, light and/or air quality measures. Existing systems are often costly, inflexible and do not use a modern, internet of things (IoT) approach. This paper aims to determine the suitability of currently popular general-purpose IoT devices, standards and technologies to the environmental monitoring needs of archivists, as well as identify any challenges.


This paper describes an exploratory study detailing the design, construction and usability testing of a do-it-yourself datalogger and data dashboard system, which seeks to manage previously identified trade-offs in cost, required technical skill and maintainability.


The environmental monitoring system presented met archivists’ needs well and was generally noted to be easy-to-use, efficient and an improvement on existing systems. This suggests that an IoT approach can support archivists’ needs in this area.

Research limitations/implications

Potential limitations of this study include lack of archival staff with sufficient technical training to maintain such a system and the rapid pace of IoT evolution yielding unstable and constantly changing technologies.

Practical implications

The system design presented in this work provides a blueprint for cultural heritage organizations desiring a fuller-featured, lower cost environmental monitoring system for archival collections.


This research takes a novel user-centered, open-source, IoT approach to construct an environmental monitoring system that is designed directly from archivists’ requirements and is extensible for future needs.



Funding: This work was supported by the Pratt Research Seed Grant.


Maceli, M. (2020), "Internet of things in the archives: novel tools for environmental monitoring of archival collections", Records Management Journal, Vol. 30 No. 2, pp. 201-220.



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