Information on the flooded library collection at Sundarayya Vignana Kendram, Hyderabad, August 2000

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The information below was culled from a number of websites and professionals. We were given assistance by the Northeast Document Conservation Center (Karen Brown), the Library of Congress-Preservation Department (Ann Seibert and Peter Waters), Harvard University-Head of Preservation (Jan Merrill Oldham), the Association for Research Libraries (Duane Webster), Columbia University-Head of Preservation (Janet Gertz), Head Conservator of Columbia Libraries' conservation laboratory (Maria Fredericks).
Recommended organizations for dealing with library disasters
Recommended readings for dealing with library disasters
Schedule for emergency response
How to Air Dry Wet Books
Non-Book Resources
How to deal with Mold
General comments
Supplies needed
More info on Freezing
For Assistance contact:
David Magier, Columbia University. magier@columbia.edu
James Nye, University of Chicago. jnye@midway.uchicago.edu
Rebecca Moore, Center for Research Libraries. rebecca@dsal.uchicago.edu
Sundarayya Vignana Kendram office in India 91-40-7667543
   Cell phone 91-98480-63241
Recommended organizations for dealing with library disasters
Recommended readings for dealing with library disasters
Schedule for emergency response:
  1. Assign Responsibilities
  2. Prioritize the materials.
  3. Determine what to throw out, what to freeze (if possible), which items to air dry.
  4. Get supplies.
  5. Arrange for offsite processing center if possible. Organize people to help with the work. Document the condition of the materials and where they are being moved to.
    ***Submerged printed materials that cannot be IMMEDIATELY frozen or air-dried should be left in situ, since it is precisely in damp conditions rather than under water that mold begins to really take hold -- facilitated by exposure to air. Prolonged immersion will NOT dissolve the paper in most situations. It may soften the image layer of coated (glossy) papers, and any manuscripts or miniature paintings should be immediately removed from wet conditions, as the inks and other media will probably bleed and/or dissolve. Immersed bindings may also be adversely affected, but at least while things are under water, they will not begin to grow mold.
    If soaking wet or submerged materials need to be moved out of buildings so that the building can be stabilized, keep the materials tightly packed together as they would be on a shelf until they can be frozen or air dried, and you may even want to actively keep them wet; this will keep the penetration of air into the wet materials to a minimum and help limit the mold growth to the edges of the text blocks and the outsides of the bindings.
    The key thing is, if possible, to avoid creating situations in which large masses of sodden books are beginning to air dry in an area of high humidity -- this is what will lead to rapid development of mold. Bring out of the water only as much as you think you can spread out and dry right away.
  6. Move the materials to dry locations, the offsite storage area, houses, upstairs, anywhere. Materials that are going to be frozen should move to those locations- hotel freezers, individual's freezers, etc.


How to Air Dry Wet Books
The air drying of wet books is a process that must be monitored continuously if mold growth is to be avoided. The interleaving must be changed regularly, exchanging new dry sheets for sheets that have already absorbed moisture. Wet interleaving that is left in place will only add to the book's tendency to retain moisture and will ultimately inhibit the drying process.
  1. Secure a clean, dry environment where the temperature and humidity are as low as possible. The temperature must be below 70 degrees F. and the humidity below 50%, or mold will probably develop and distortion will be extreme.
  2. Keep the air moving at all times using fans in the drying area. This will accelerate the drying process and discourage the growth of mold. If materials are dried outside, remember that prolonged exposure to direct sunlight may fade inks and accelerate the aging of paper. Be aware that breezes can blow away single records. Train fans into the air and away from the drying records.
  3. Interleave every few pages, starting from the back of the book, turning pages carefully. For interleaving, use paper towels or clean, unprinted newsprint. Be careful to avoid interleaving too much or the spine will become concave and the volume distorted. Complete the interleaving by clean blotter paper inside the front and back covers. Close the book gently and place it on several sheets of absorbent paper. Change the interleaving frequently. Turn the book from head to tail each time it is interleaved.
  4. Bound Volumes - can be carefully dried for a few minutes with a hand held hair dryer. Then the books can be placed open on tables to dry. The best procedure is to hold the book by the spine, turn it upside down so that the top or head of the book is on the table. Then gently open the book so that the volume is in a wide "V" for support and ease in drying.
  5. When books are dry but still cool to the touch, they should be closed and laid flat on a table or other horizontal surface, gently formed into the normal shape, with convex spine and concave front edge (if that was their original shape) and held in place with a light weight. Do not stack drying books on top of each other. In no case should books be returned to the shelves until thoroughly dry; otherwise mold may develop, particularly along the gutter margin.
  6. Dampness will persist for some time in the gutter, along the spine, and between boards and flyleaves. This is particularly true of volumes sewn on an oversewing machine. Check often for mold growth while books are dying.
  7. If the edges of the book are only slightly wet, the book may be stood on end and fanned open slightly in the path of a flow of air (as from a fan). To minimize distortion of the edges, lay volumes flat under light pressure just before drying is complete. Paper or cloth covered bricks work well for weights.
  8. If you can establish an air-conditioned room capable of maintaining a constant relative humidity of 25 to 35% and temperature between 50 and 65 degrees F, books with only wet edges can be dried successfully in approximately two weeks without interleaving. Do not try to dry books printed on coated paper by this method. In most cases, the only chance of saving such books is to freeze them while wet and dry them by vacuum freeze dying.
Quoted from Emergency Salvage of Wet Books and Records by Sally Buchanan, Associate Professor. University of Pittsburgh. http://www.nedcc.org/plam3/tleaf37.htm
Non-Book Resources
Quoted from Salvage Operations for Water Damaged Collections by Betty Walsh, Conservator, Provincial Archives of British Columbia. http://palimpsest.stanford.edu/waac/wn/wn10/wn10-2/wn10-202.html

How to deal with Mold
Quoted from Emergency Salvage of Moldy Books and Paper by Beth Lindblom Patkus Preservation Consultant http://www.nedcc.org/plam3/tleaf39.htm

A detailed list of resources related to mold can be found at: http://palimpsest.stanford.edu/bytopic/mold/
General comments:

Supplies needed:
More info on Freezing

This page was last generated on 25 March 2005 at 13:40 by hall@crl.edu
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