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Re: Water Damage

> I wonder if anyone on the list could help us please.  We recently had the
> basement flood which damaged some 2 doz. books.  We were told to put them
> in a freezer right away.  How long do we leave them there and how do
> we repair the water damage once they come out of the freezer?

Placing the wet books in the freezer simply stabilizes them and gives you
time to review your options.  You've got the time to decide what to do
next, and keep the books from molding and rotting in the meantime.

Depending on the paper and with so few books you might be able to thaw
them and air dry them outside on a bright, breezy day, while interleaving
the blocks with frequently changed paper towels, newsprint, or other
absorbent paper.  With this solution they will probably need rebinding
and the block may be quite warped, but the text can be saved.  (A good
solution for quick reference or other not valuable but much used titles.)

Another option is to freeze dry them, for which there are professional
facilities with the proper equipment.  This sublimates the water,
removing it without returning it to the liquid state thereby doing the least
damage to the book.  It's can be quite expensive (it is best for
valuable, rare or special books).

If the book was printed on coated paper, though, just throw it away!
Water turns most coatings to glue, leaving you with a solid brick in
place of the text block.

There are several excellent works, most writen for library disaster
recovery, that can help.  Although these deal with large scale recovery,
they contain information on the options, and their pros and cons.  John
Morris's Library Disaster Preparedness Handbook and Judith Fortson's
Disaster Planning and Recovery are just two such books; there have also
been many articles published in journals for the library profession.

Good luck! (Think of our colleagues in the flooded out cities, whose
entire collections, livelyhoods and libraries have been under water for
weeks.  Two dozen books doesn't seem so bad.)

Susan Ravdin
Special Collections
Bowdoin College Library
Brunswick, Maine

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