Along with the often severe cold of our Iowa winters comes a precipitous drop in relative humidity.  Even with the application of heavy-duty moisturizers, skin and hair can feel uncomfortably dry, and some of our staff have been plagued with splitting fingertips this winter.  One of our staff members claims that Planatol, which we use for double-fan adhesive bindings, is an effective sealant for cracking skin, in a pinch!

Yesterday, the hygrometer in my office read 14% RH.  I was typing at the computer when I heard a loud “c r a c k!” which made me jump in my seat.  At first I couldn’t figure out what had made the noise.  Then my eyes fell on the bamboo pencil cup that sits on my desk.  The wood had split in the dry, winter air.

An aggressive vent blows air directly over my desk in the office, which probably exacerbated the dryness of the bamboo.  The general workspace of the Conservation Lab averages a slightly higher RH, but all the same, it may be time to invest in a humidifier for the lab!