Salvage of Water Damaged Library Materials - part 4


Conducting a successful and efficient recovery operation after a major flood or similar disaster requires, in addition to a good supply of dedicated labor, a team of experts who should be assembled before practical work begins.

The leader should be a person who has had practical experience and understands the effects of different environmental conditions on water-soaked materials of all types, conditions, and ages. The team leader should to be assisted by custodians who know the collection intimately; conservators who can provide additional advice and guidance as well as help in training workers in safe removal procedures; procurement specialists; building maintenance engineers; electricians; carpenters; plumbers; a chemist if available, and health and safety experts.

One or more persons familiar with national and local resources are highly desirable to assist in locating and procuring the special facilities, equipment and supplies needed during the operation. They should be familiar with using the Yellow Pages to track down materials and equipment, able to seek out the key chemical supply companies in the country, if necessary, and generally have the authority to cut through administrative red tape.

The assembled team should be carefully briefed on the recovery plan and procedures to be followed as well as various contingency alternatives which might have to be adopted, priorities to be observed, and their own specific responsibilities.

Team leaders need to be identified and instructed in the details of the recovery plan and its main aims and goals. They in turn should brief all workers so that they too will understand the purpose of the plan and what is expected of each of them. A well briefed and dedicated team works much better than enthusiastic individuals who are allowed to carry out actions which may be disruptive to the main purpose of the team plan.

The major objectives of this team should be:

To stabilize the condition of the materials before removal by creating the environment necessary to prevent further damage.

To recover the maximum number of material from the damaged collections in a manner which will minimize future restoration and its costs.

Seek the advice of specialists who can assist at the site of the disaster.

Organize a disaster team and prepare a comprehensive plan of action, as well as plans for different contingencies.

Do not attempt to remove materials from the area until an overall plan with a schedule of priorities has been established and all personnel thoroughly briefed and trained.

In winter, turn off all heat in the building. In summer, reduce temperatures as much as possible through air-conditioning.

Create maximum air flow through all affected areas by opening doors and windows. If electrical facilities are operational, use as many fans as can be acquired to create a current of air so directed as to expel humid air from the building. Use de-- humidifiers together with air conditioning and a good air flow. The objective is to avoid pockets of stagnant air and to reduce moisture content.

If house electricity is not available, hire portable generators to provide electricity for lights, fan, dehumidifiers, and other electrical services. For safety purposes, all electrical lines should be waterproofed and grounded and be administered by health and safety personnel.

Do not permit anyone to open wet books; to separate single sheets; to remove covers when materials are water-soaked; or to disturb wet file boxes, prints, drawings, and photographs. Such handling can result in extensive and often irreparable damage to materials that otherwise might be salvaged. Reducing the cost of future restoration must be one of the top priorities of the salvage operation.

Canvass the community to locate freezing and storage space.

Locate sources of one cubic foot milk crates and corrugated board boxes.

Disaster Preparedness Table of Contents