Flood Recovery Booklet - ICPC

Flood Recovery Booklet


Salvage of Water-Damaged Archival Collections

Salvage at a Glance

Material Priority Handling Precautions Packing Method Drying Method
Paper
Manuscripts, documents and small drawings Freeze or dry within 48 hours Don't separate single sheets Interleave between folders and pack in milk crates or cartons Air, vacuum, or freeze dry
Watercolors, and other soluble media Immediately freeze or dry Do not blot Interleave between folders and pack in milk crates or cartons Air or freeze dry
Maps, oversize prints and manuscripts Freeze or dry within 48 hours Don't separate single sheets Pack in map drawers, bread trays,hat boxes or poly-covered plywood Air, vacuum, or freeze dry
Coated papers Immediately pack, then freeze or dry within 48 hours   Keep wet in containers lined with garbage bags Freeze dry only
Framed prints and drawings Freeze or dry within 48 hours   Unframe if possible, then pack as for manuscripts or maps above Once unframed and unmatted, air or freeze dry
Books

Books and pamphlets

Freeze or dry within 48 hours Do not open or close, do not separate covers Separate with freezer paper, pack spine down in milk crate or cardboard box Air, vacuum, or freeze dry
Leather and vellum bindings Immediately freeze As above As above Air or freeze dry
Books and periodicals with coated papers Immediately pack. Freeze or dry within 48 hours As above Keep wet; pack spine down in containers lined with garbage bags Freeze dry only
Paintings

Paintings

Immediately dry Drain and carry horizontally Face up without touching paint Air dry. See instructions
Floppy Diskettes

Floppy Diskettes

Immediately pack Do not touch diskette surface with bare hands Contact supplier for best method Contact supplier for best drying method
Sound & Video Recordings

Discs

Dry within 48 hours. Freezing is untested if it is necessary, freeze at above 0 F (-18 C) Hold disks by their edges. Avoid shocks Pack vertically in ethafoam-padded plastic crates Air dry
Sound and Videotapes Freezing is untested; if it is necessary, freeze at above -10 C   Pack vertically info plastic crates or cardboard carloads. Don't put any heavy weight on the sides of reels or cassettes Air dry
Photographs
Wet Collodion photographs (ambrotypes tintypes,pannotypes, wet collodion negatives) Recovery rate is low.Immediately dry Handle with care--glass supports or glazing Horizontally in padded container Air dry face up. Never freeze
Daguerreotypes Immediately dry Handle with care--usually cased behind glass Horizontally in padded container Air dry face up
Nitrates with soluble emulsions Immediately freeze Do not blot   Air dry; test freeze drying
Prints negatives and transparencies Freeze or dry within 72 hours. Salvage order: 1)color photographs 2)prints 3)negatives and transparencies Do not touch emulsions with bare hands Keep in cold water. Pack in containers lined with garbage bags Order of preference: 1)air dry 2)thaw and air dry 3)freeze dry. Do not vacuum dry
Motion Pictures Rewash and dry within 72 hours   Fill film cans with cold water and pack in plastic pails or cardboard cartons lined with garbage bags Arrange For film processor to rewash and dry
Microfilm rolls Rewash and dry within 72 hours Do not remove from boxes; hold cartons together with rubber bands Fill boxes with water and pack (in blocks of 5) in a cardboard box lined with garbage bags Arrange for a microfilm processor to rewash and dry
Aperture cards Freeze or dry within 48 hours   Keep wet inside a container lined with garbage bags Air dry
Jacketed microfilm Freeze or dry within 72 hours   Keep wet inside a container lined with garbage bags Air dry
Diazo fiche Last   In drawers or cartons Air dry

Originally published in WAAC Newsletter, May 1988 Volume 10:2. Reprinted with the permission of the Western Association for Art Conservation and likely Walsh.

The general recommendations provided are intended as practical guidance in The recovery of water-damaged artifacts These recommendations are intended as guidance only and neither the AIC or NIC assume responsibility or liability for treatment of water-damaged objects.



 

SALVAGE OPERATIONS FOR WATER DAMAGED COLLECTIONS

A. GENERAL

  1. Designate (preferably before the disaster) a Recovery Director. Know how to find a recovery specialist or use a conservator or other staff member trained in dealing with emergency salvage.
  2. Do not enter the building until it has been designated as safe. Confer with the maintenance director, fire and police departments.
  3. Recovery Director assembles the Disaster Team.
  4. The Recovery Director and Recovery Specialist, accompanied by the Recorder and a photographer, will assess the scene of the disaster. The latter three will survey and photograph the damage.
  5. Decide whether the building will stay open or closed so staff can participate in salvage operations.
  6. The Recovery Director ensures that he/she has an office or desk near the site and is accessible by phone or walkie-talkie.
  7. The logistics manager arranges for emergency facilities and supplies. Arrangements should be made for team members--coffee, portable toilets, etc.
  8. The Recovery Director will coordinate with the maintenance director to:
  9. Obtain generators if the electricity is off. Use safely grounded, waterproof cords.
  10. The Recovery Director will delegate teams for salvage. Team members will be briefed and assigned to:
  11. The Recorder numbers the crates and records their contents. If catalogue numbers aren't evident, note the location where the object was found. Record the condition of the contents as wet, partially wet, or damp. Label crates with tyvek tags; mark cardboard boxes directly.
  12. If the damage is substantial and salvage will take more than 10 hours, loosen tightly packed document boxes, books and pamphlets so they do not jam into the shelves.
  13. Do not separate the remaining dry books and documents when the relative humidity is high. If the RH remains high during cleaning and repairing of the storage areas, remove to an air conditioned room. However, evacuate undamaged diskettes because they are sensitive to a high relative humidity.
  14. Meetings will be held at the beginning and end of each day to review strategy end to keep up morale.
  15. The shelves will be repaired and cleaned after the books and documents are removed,

 

B. GUIDELINES FOR PACKING

Be extremely careful when handling wet materials. All of them are very fragile, including their paper boxes. If the boxes have disintegrated replace them with new containers. Don't unpack structurally sound containers (although they may be reinforced by packing inside plastic crates). Fill cartons and crates three-quarters full. Keep identification labels with objects. (Don't mark wet paper, but picture frames and reels can be marked with a grease pencil.) To avoid mechanical damage, do not stack material in piles or on the floor.

PAPER

Single sheets of paper: Do not try to separate but interleave the folders every two inches with freezer paper and pack.

Watercolors, maps, and manuscripts with soluble media: Do not blot surface. Quickly freeze or dry.

Coated papers: Keep wet by packing in boxes lined with garbage bags, then freeze.

Framed prints and drawings: If time and space permit, unframe and pack as for single sheets.

Maps, plans, oversize prints, and manuscripts: Sponge standing water out of map drawers. Remove the drawers from the cabinet. ship and freeze them stacked up tenth 1" x 2" strips of wood between each drawer. Pack loose, flat maps in bread trays, flat boxes, or plywood sheets covered in polyethylene. Bundle rolled maps very loosely to go in small numbers to the freezer, unless facilities are available for conservators to unroll them.

BOOKS

Don't open or close wet books or remove wet book covers. If the water is dirty, wash the books before freezing. Do not wash open books and those with water soluble media. Wash closed books in tubs of cold running water and dab away (do not rub) mud with a sponge. Time and facilities may limit this treatment.

Lay a sheet of freezer paper around the cover, and pack spine down in a milk crate or cardboard carton.

Leather, parchment and vellum binding are an immediate priority because they distort and disintegrate in water. Books with coated papers should be kept wet by packing inside boxes lined with garbage bags, then frozen.

PAINTINGS

Drain off excess water and take to a work area for immediate drying. Transport horizontally if you can. If not carry the painting facing toward you. holding the side of the frame with the palms of your hands. Larger paintings should be carried by two people. The order of removal and treatment is: 1) the most highly valued: 2) the least damaged: 3) slightly damaged: and 4) severed damaged.

FLOPPY DISKETTES

If the diskettes are wet pack them upright in containers of cold distilled water. Make arrangements to air dry.

SOUND AND VIDEO RECORDINGS

Phono discs: If storage boxes are badly damaged, transfer the discs up to five at a time, to milk crates. Pad the bottoms of the crates with ethafoam and interleave with ethafoam every 25 records to absorb shocks. Always support the discs vertically and hold the discs by their edges. Avoid shocks and jolts during transport.

Sound and video tapes: Pack vertically into egg crates or cardboard cartons. Do not put excessive weight on the sides of the reels or cassettes.

PHOTOGRAPHIC MATERIALS

Salvage without delay these historic photographs:

Wet collodion photographs (ambrotypes, tintypes, pannotypes and wet collodion glass negatives): Salvage first and air dry immediately. Both immersion and freezing will destroy the emulsion.

Daguerreotypes: Salvage and air dry.

Nitrates with softening emulsions: Freeze immediately and make arrangements to freeze dry. Emulsions are water soluble and could be lost.

Other photographs should be kept wet in containers of fresh cold water until they are either air dried or frozen. If allowed to partially dry they will stick together. Pack inside plastic garbage pails or garbage bags inside boxes. Keep to a minimum the immersion time to treatment or freezing.

Prints. negatives, and transparencies: Salvage color photographs first then prints, then black and white negatives and transparencies. If facilities and personnel are available, air dry. Pack and freeze if not.

Motion pictures: Open the film can, fill it with water and replace lid. Pack into plastic pails or cardboard cartons lined with garbage bags. Ship to film processor for rewashing and drying.

MICROFORMS

Microforms in rolls: Do not remove the films from their boxes. Hold cardboard boxes (and their labels)together with rubber bands. Fill boxes with water then wrap 5 cartons of film into a block with plastic wrap. Pack the blocks into a heavy duty cardboard box lined with 3 garbage bags. Label as wet film and ship to a microfilm processor.

Aperture cards: Pack and freeze.

Microfilm strips in jackets: Pack and freeze.

Diazo microfiche: Pack, freeze, and make arrangements to air dry.

PARCHMENT AND VELLUM



Separate from other documents, pack in crates or flat boxes, and freeze.

C. RECOVERY METHODS

For materials requiring immediate attention or unusual treatments.

PAINTINGS

Ideally, this treatment should be done by a conservator. Initially, set up tabletops padded with blotters and covered with plastic.

Separate the merely wet paintings from those showing structural damage. Signs of structural damage are tears in the canvas, flaking, lifting, and dissolving of paint and ground layers. Let the structurally damaged paintings dry, face up in a horizontal position, on the tables.

Structurally sound paintings on canvas are dried in the following way: Set up several more layers of blotter on the table, followed by a layer of tissue paper. Unframe the painting, but don't remove it from its stretcher. Lay it face down on this surface, making sure the tissue is not wrinkled. Cut blotters to the inside dimensions of the stretcher frame. Cut a sheet of plywood or thick masonite to the same dimensions, or smaller to fit inside the stretcher keys. Cover the back of the canvas with a blotter (if the canvas is large and more than one blotter is necessary, butt the blotters end-to-end), then the board, and finally the weights. Change the blotter until the canvas is dry. If the tissue on the front has a tendency to stick to the paint layer, leave it in place.

FLOPPY DISKETTES

The diskettes should be removed from their jackets, washed, and dried. Cut the edge of the jacket with non-magnetic scissors and remove the diskette with gloved hands. Wash in several water baths (photo trays) or distilled water, and dry with lint free towels. When the crisis is over, insert the diskettes into a new jacket (cannibalized from a new diskette; this can be reused) and copy with a disk drive. The drive heads should be cleaned frequently.

SOUND AND VIDEO RECORDINGS

Phono discs: Remove the discs from their sleeves and jackets. If labels have separated, mark the center of disc with a grease pencil and keep track of the label. Jackets, sleeves, and labels may be dried like other paper materials. If dirt has been deposited on the discs, they may be washed in a 1% solution of Kodak Photo Flo in distilled water. Air dry the discs on supports that permit free circulation of air.

Reel to reel tapes: If the exterior of the tape is dirty, wash the tape (still wound on its reel) with lukewarm water. Support the tape vertically and air dry it, or air dry by laying it on sheets of newsprint spread over plastic covered tables. The box can be air dried as well. If the reels are still dirty, remove the tape and wash the reel with detergent and water. An alternative is to replace the reel. Return the tape to its original box, after the box has dried. Replace the box if badly damaged.

Videocassettes: Dismantle the cassette and dry as for reel to reel tapes.

Audio cassettes: If there are no master copies, dismantle the cassette and air dry the tape as above. Rerecord the tape after drying. It is difficult to determine the condition of sealed cassettes. Copy them in any case.

PHOTOGRAPHIC MATERIALS

The first priority is to dry wet collodion photographs and daguerreotypes. The recovery rate may not be very high.

Case photographs: Remove the assembly from the case. Carefully fold back the preserver frame. Cut the sealing tape (if present) and take the assembly apart. Place daguerreotypes face up on blotters with the case components beside them. Wet collodion photographs should be dried in a similar way emulsion side up.

Wet collodion glass negatives and unmounted case photographs: Dry emulsion side up on blotters.

Prints negatives and transparencies: In order of preference the drying methods are: air dry, freeze, thaw and air dry, and freeze dry. Vacuum drying will make the photographs stick together in a lump. If the photographs have been immersed in dirty water, clean them before air drying or freezing. Time and facilities may modify the following:

Black and white prints and negatives: Wash for half an hour in changes of cold water. Gently swab off stubborn dirt from the surface. Rinse with Kodak Photo Flo solution.

Color prints: Wash as above but for a shorter time.

Color negatives and transparencies: Wash as for black and white negatives. A few varieties require bathing in a stabilizer prior to drying.

Color negatives: Rinse for 1 minute using Kodak C41 stabilizer.

Ektachrome Transparencies: Rinse 10-15 seconds in Kodak E6 stabilizer.

Kodachrome: No stabilizer required.

Eastman Color Film: Send to a Kodak Laboratory.

Air drying. Remember to keep the photographs wet until they are separated from each other and their enclosures. If the photographs have been previously frozen thaw them. If it appears that the photographs could dry and stick together during thawing immerse again in cold water. Dry the photographs emulsion side up on blotters, paper or nylon screen.

MICROFORMS

Aperture cards: At present the only treatment is a time-consuming one. Remove the film chips from their mounts. Wash the chips and remount them.

Microfilm strips in jackets: Cut the strips from the jackets with sleeve cutters. Wash and dry the film and insert into new jackets.

Diazo microfiche and rolls: Check for readability. If the photograph has blistered, discard and replace with a print from the security copy. If it has not delaminated, wash in cool water and dry on blotters or a lint-free cloth.

D. POST-DISASTER

Review disaster operations. Change plan accordingly. Send thanks to all who helped. Inspect collections over the next year to prevent mold outbreaks. Publish the results to aid other institutions.

Betty Walsh, Conservator
Provincial Archives of Branch Columbia
655 Belleville Street
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4


Notes for the Chart

(From Betty Walsh Conservator)

The chart was written as a ready reference in our disaster plan. It is modeled on a table of recovery priorities written by Julia Eulenberg. I have enlarged it to include handling and packing procedures for the variety of materials in our collection. The following references were used:

Barton John P. and Welheiser Johanna G. ed. An Ounce of Prevention: A Handbook on Disaster Contingency Planning for Archives, Libraries, and Record Centres. Toronto: Toronto Area Archivists Group, 1985.

Canadian Conservation Institute. Emergency Treatment for Water-Damaged Paintings on Canvas. CCI Note INS. Ottawa: CCI, April 1986.

Eastman Kodak. "Treatment of Water-Damaged Film." n.d. (typewritten).

Eulenberg Julia Niebuhr. Handbook for the Recovery of Water-Damaged Business Records. Prairie Village Kansas: ARMA. 1986.

Hendriks. Klaus B. and Lesser Brisk. "Disaster Preparedness and Recovery: Photographic Models." American Archivist 46 (Winter 1983).

Langelier, Gilles.and Wright, Sandra. "Contingency Planning for Cartographic Archives." Archivaria 13 (Winter 1981-82): 47-58.

McWilliams, Jerry. The Preservation and Restoration of Sound Recordings. Nashville: American Association for State and Local History, 1979.

Public archives of Canada. "Archives Branch Contingency Plan." Ottawa Public Archives, September 21, 1982.

Upton M.S. and Peterson. C. Disaster Planning and Emergency Treatments in Mustang, Art Galleries, Libraries. Archives, and Allied Institutions. Canberra: Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material Incorporated, 1978.

Peter. Procedures for Salvage of Water-Damaged Library Materials 2nd ed. Washington: Library of Congress, 1979.

[Originally published in WAAC Newsletter, boy, 1988. Reprinted with the permission of the Western Association for Art Conservation and Betty Walsh.]

The recommendations provided are intended as practical guidance in the recovery of water-damaged artifacts. These recommendations are intended as guidance only and neither the AIC or NIC assume responsibility or liability for treatment of water-damaged objects.



SALVAGE OF WATER-DAMAGED COLLECTIONS

SALVAGE AT A GLANCE

(Addenda)

Material Priority Handling Precautions Preparation/Packing Method Drying Method
Textiles

Small flat textiles

Freeze or air dry within 48 hours Do not unfold if fragile layers are stuck together Drain and blot to remove excess water; separate items with freezer paper or wax paper to prevent dye staining between items * Air or freeze dry. **

Do not freeze beadwork or painted and stenciled items

Beadwork and painted fabrics Air dry within 48 hours Use support to move Drain and blot to remove excess water. Separate items with freezer paper or wax paper to prevent dye staining between items Air dry only
Framed textiles Freeze or air dry within 48 hours Unframe; unmount if possible Drain and blot to remove excess water. Separate items with freezer paper or wax paper to prevent dye staining between items Air or freeze dry **
Large flat textiles (blankets,coverlets) Freeze or air dry within 48 hours Drain to reduce water weight; use support to move Drain and blot to remove excess water; separate items with freezer paper or wax paper to prevent dye staining between items. Air or freeze dry **
Garments Freeze or air dry within 48 hours Bodice boning, metal fasteners, buttons etc. will tear easily through fragile wet fabrics. Use support to move. Drain and blot to remove excess water. Separate items with freezer paper or wax paper to prevent dye staining between items Air or freeze dry ** If air drying, pad out to restore shape with uninked paper, toweling, net or other colorfast fabric
Tapestries and rugs Freeze or air dry within 48 hours Extremely heavy and fragile when wet; use support to move Drain, roll with toweling to remove excess water. Unroll remove toweling; repeat if needed. Fold or roll.* Air or freeze dry **
Basketry Air dry as soon as possible Fragile and heavy when wet; use support to move Remove mud and debris with clear water. Drain and blot to remove excess water. Separate items with freezer or wax paper Air dry.Pad out with uninked paper, toweling or other colorfast materials
Leather and rawhide Air dry within 48 hours Leather (especially items with red-rot) may be extremely fragile when wet; use support to move Rinse or sponge with clear water to remove mud. Drain and blot to remove excess moisture. Pad shaped artifacts with toweling or uninked paper Air dry
Buckskin and other flexible leathers Air dry within 48 hours Leather may be extremely fragile when wet; metal fasteners may tear through; use support to move Rinse or sponge with clear water to remove mud. Drain and blot to remove excess moisture. Air dry. May require manipulation while drying to retain flexibility; contact a conservator
Natural History Specimens Freeze or air dry within 48 hours Use gloves to handle; wear surgical mask. Many stuffed mounts contain arsenic or other pesticides and may be extremely hazardous to your health Drain and blot to remove excess water. Separate items with freezer or wax paper. Support with padding. Isolate from other objects in boxes lined with plastic sheeting and limit handling to avoid contamination Air or freeze dry
Bone, hair, horn, ivory, shell Begin to air dry within 48 hours May be extremely fragile when wet. Use support to move Rinse or sponge with clear water to remove mud and debris. Drain and blot excess moisture. Separate items with freezer or wax paper to prevent bleeding of colors between objects. Transport in boxes lined with open polyethylene bags Air dry slowly on non-rusting screens
Metal

Small metal objects

Air dry as soon as possible Use gloves when handling. Mud is abrasive and can scratch surfaces Remove mud and debris with clear Water. Drain and blot with toweling. Pack when dry if possible. Pad loosely to prevent abrasion but allow air circulation Air dry as soon as possible
Iron objects Air dry as soon as possible Use gloves when handling. Mud is abrasive and can scratch surfaces Remove mud and debris with clear water. Drain and blot with toweling. If possible pack only when dry. Separate with padding Air dry as soon as possible
Painted metal objects(including machinery, equipment). Rinse mud off before drying Avoid cleaning flaking or peeling areas. Painted surfaces or other applied decorations or labels may be soft and fragile; avoid touching Keep flaking areas horizontal face Air dry as soon as possible
Large metal objects (sculpture, architectural elements) Air dry; mud and other deposits can be removed later     Contact a conservator for later cleaning and stabilization
Wood

Wood sculpture (unpainted)

Begin to air dry within 48 hours   Remove mud and debris with clear water. Drain and blot to remove excess water. Wrap in blotting materials under loosely draped polyethylene sheeting Air dry slowly under polyethylene sheeting. Use fans to increase air circulation but not directed at objects
Polychromed wood Begin to air dry within 48 hours Surfaces may be extremely fragile and flaking; avoid touching painted areas. Keep flaking areas in horizontal position if possible Wrap under loosely draped polyethylene sheeting, avoiding contact with painted surface Contact a conservator for advice immediately Air dry slowly under polyethylene sheeting; may require immediate attention by a conservator
Furniture

Solid wood pieces

Wash off wet mud with water as soon as possible. Dab dry. Dry slowly. Wipe with disinfectant if necessary. 50% alcohol in water will discourage mold If joints saturated, tie up with cord or thick string Do not stack or place other objects on top to dry Air dry under cover if possible. Provide good air circulation. Dry slowly to minimize cracking and splitting. Expect surface coatings to discolor. Contact a conservator
Veneered pieces As above. Dry under weights to hold veneer in place Handle as little as possible As above As above. Air dry in "envelope"of cotton or plastic to catch pieces that may fall off. Keep all pieces for replacement when piece is dry
Partially upholstered As above. Remove lift-out seats. Rinse off both pieces. Dab wood dry. Wrap textile seat in clean cloth or towel to wick dry Keep pieces together As above Air dry as above
Upholstered overall Spray off excess mud with water. Remove cushions and dry separately. Wrap in clean sheet or towels and wick dry Handle all furniture with gloves   Air dry as above. Use fans if electricity is safe to use
Ceramics/Porcelain Glazed pieces can wait until there is time to wash them off. Gilded pieces should be dabbed off with a soft cloth Note that many pieces have old repairs & these repairs will part when immersed for any length of time. Keep pieces together in plastic bag or box. Label bags Bag or box when possible and pack dry if possible. Wrap pieces individually to prevent more damage. Air dry
Unglazed Pottery/Porcelain Wash off as soon as possible or dry with mud on and remove with a soft brush later As above. Wrap when dry and store individually As above. Can be packed in one box with dividers Air dry
Painted Ceramics (unglazed) Dry as is; consult a conservator Wrap carefully. Store separately As above Air dry

* Corrugated cardboard boxes can be lined with garbage bags for freezing to prevent dyes from leaking. Do not overload boxes. "

**Consult a conservator about freeze-drying of these materials.



Format and original contents thanks to Betty Walsh, published in WAAC Newsletter, Volume 10:2, 1988. Addendum contributed by Kathy Francis, Pamela Hatchfield, Robert Herskovitz, Jane Hutchins, Jerry Podany, Barbara Roberts, Paul Storch and Deborah Trupin.

The general recommendations provided are intended as practical guidance in the recovery of water-damaged artifacts. These recommendations are intended as guidance only and neither the AIC or NIC assume responsibility or liability for treatment of water-damaged objects.



ADDENDUM (contributed by Barbara Roberts)

Furniture

Clean wet contents out of drawers. Replace drawers: they may be difficult to open when the piece dries, but if dried separately they may distort and not fit back in the piece.

Dry furniture out slowly with good air circulation to keep cracking and splitting to a minimum.

Expect finishes to turn white or to discolor. Consult a conservator for advice when the pieces are dry.

Watch for mold. If it develops. wipe off surfaces with 50% ethanol or denatured alcohol in water. Dry off surfaces with a soft cloth. The best way to keep mold from forming is to keep humidity down to below 75% and to keep air circuiting.

Try to remove mud while it is still wet. Use plain water. A light spray is better than rubbing with a cloth.

Beware of health hazards associated with contaminated mud/water. Protect eyes, mouth, and hands. Wear rubber gloves. Use disinfectants to wash hands before eating.

The recommendations provided are intended as practical guidance in the recovery of water-damaged artifacts. These recommendations are intended as guidance only and neither the AIC nor NIC assume responsibility or liability for treatment of water-damaged objects.