Disaster Response 101:Recovering water-damaged collections A brief overview of Cause, Response, and Preparation May Day 2010
Cause Water is the most common cause of damage to library materials. Sources can range from roof leaks, burst pipes, fire suppression, and flooding.
Response Rapid response is essential for an effective recovery effort.
Effects of water damage Paper-based collections begin to distort physically immediately after becoming wet. Books swell; paper cockles; inks and pigments run; coated papers begin to adhere to one another.
Effects of Water Damage In addition, there is a risk of a mold outbreak. Once established, mold is extremely difficult to control and eradicate.
First steps In the event of a water-related emergency : Remove standing water Assess/survey damage Freeze or air dry wet materials Identify shelf location when removing items
For transport, place wet books separated by freezer paper spine down in uncovered plastic crates - so not to tear out covers when wet.
Prevention If leaks from above are detected, place plastic sheeting over affected stack areas.
Stages of Wetness Soaked Partially wet or damp Humid
Drying Methods Freezing Stabilizing to prevent mold growth & provide time to determine a course of action *Freezer located in Book Conservation Lab, Pennsy Air drying Interleaving blotters between pages or fanning open with circulating air Dehumidification Maintaining an environment 30-50% relative humidity
Care should be taken when handling wet materials as paper becomes extremely fragile and can suffer further damage
Very wet or soaked materials Freeze within 6-8 hours - in particular, books with coated paper text blocks and vellum bindings
Store and separate items with freezer paper
Do not try to open books or separate pages!
Partially wet/Damp materials Air dry
Air Drying Keep air moving!
Partially wet/Damp materials If coated papers are separable, interleave with silicone release paper or remay. Oversize books must lie flat—interleave pages with blotter. Change blotter often, as needed.
Materials affected by high humidity Relocate affected collections to a more stable environment Install dehumidifiers in collections area Stable environmental conditions: 55-70 degrees (F) 30%-50% relative humidity
Preparation Assign responders to emergencies Prioritize collections : Value Essential records Stability Identify supplies contained in your disaster response kits