As the newly hired Preservation & Special Collections Librarian, several people have already asked me, “What can you tell us about mold?” and more specifically, “What kinds of mold do you find in libraries?”
Many forms of fungi cause mold. In the library, common mold-causing genera are Aspergillus, Eurotium, and Penicillium, but it is not easy to identify mold. Sometimes mold in one genus is classified in a different genus. The Mold Busters Mold Library describes how a fungus from the genus Eurotium may be classified in the genus Aspergillus:
“Yes, it may seem strange and confusing at first but in the world of fungi it is not uncommon for the anamorph and teleomorph forms of the same organism to have different names. For example, the mold known as Aspergillus glaucus can mature into the fungus known as Eurotium herbariorum . The situation is analogous to a strawberry maturing into a banana and highlights how far removed the kingdom of fungi is from plants or animals and how difficult and confusing their taxonomy can be.”
And consider that there are currently 354 species in the genus Penicillium (Visagie et al., 2014), not all of them found on paper, to be sure, but that is still a daunting number.
People interested in boning up on disease-causing fungi could check out Mycology Online.
“This website contains information on the identification and management of human and animal fungal infections. The site provides a range of educational materials including a mould identification self-assessment module, descriptions of fungal pathogens and diseases, antifungal susceptibility data and links to societies and to other mycology sites.”
Cornell University hosts a Mushroom Blog which features fungi of many stripes, both good and bad. And If you really want to give yourself a thrill (or a chill) watch this 40 second time-lapse video in which a bagel meets Rhizopus stolonifer (a threat to food, NOT libraries)
Written by Jenny Miglus, Preservation & Special Collections Librarian
Visagie, C. M., Houbraken, J., Frisvad, J. C., Hong, S. B., Klaassen, C. H. W., Perrone, G., . . . Samson, R. A. (2014). Identification and nomenclature of the genus Penicillium. Studies in Mycology, 78, 343-371. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.simyco.2014.09.001
(Image from https://www.bustmold.com/resources/mold-library/eurotium/)