Some tips for early recovery of water-damaged library materials


Initial Response Guidelines for water-damaged materials:
* open or close books.
* separate single sheets.
* press water out of wet books – the paper is too fragile when wet.
* wipe off mud or dirt.
* remove book covers or separate materials.
* disturb wet file boxes, prints, drawings or photographs.

“Such handling may result in extensive and irreparable damage to
materials that otherwise might be salvaged” (Peter Waters)

Early recovery methods for water-damaged books:

* Stand books on their heads (or use support to keep them standing)
* Interleave absorbent paper every 50 pages (toilet/tissue, paper
towels, or blotting paper will do; just replace every now and then)
* Use fan to keep air circulating, never expose books to dry under the
* Keep temperature below 65 degree F (if air conditioning is possible)

* When completely dry, lay books flat but not stack up together

Keep detailed records of areas affected, items affected, location of
items being salvaged, and salvage methods used. Photograph affected
areas for documentation purposes.

Books should be sorted out based on the amount of salvage work needed as
well as level of priority. It is generally more efficient to work on the
least damaged than on the wettest materials.

If the book is only damp, it can stand upright with covers and pages
fanned in a cool, dry place to air dry. Use electric fans to increase
air circulation, but fans should not be directly positioned on the
books. If the book is wet, it will probably need to be cleaned before
being dried. Use either running water or a cycling process with about
4-8 wash basins (puede batya) filled with water for closed books. Don’t
use brush; use sponge to clean. And books should not be rubbed. The
water should be doing almost all of the cleaning.

The above guidelines are intended as initial response to the disaster.
More and detailed treatment methods may be required depending on the
severity of the damage. When planning the recovery, it’s important to
keep in mind that often there is no one “best solution”; instead,
several different methods may be the answer.

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