May 25, 2004

Cleaning and Repair - Water & Tornado Damaged Paper, Books and Art

NOTE: The following information is primarily from the Library of Congress and is particularly useful to libraries damaged in recent storms. The information is also helpful to those persons trying to salvage important, historic and valuable personal belongings and collections. In some cases scanning and digital edit using an imaging editing program may help to save items and to repair torn or damaged areas. Local photographers, librarians, museums may also be of help in addressing peoples questions.- - Shirley Niemeyer, Ph.D. Extension Specialist, Housing & Environment, University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Sources for the following items:

Library of Congress: www.loc.gov/preserv/

Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, London England The Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation (FAIC), Stanford University : http://aic.stanford.edu/

On Library of Congress site, go to: * Caring for Your Collections on the Preservation Home Page

Preservation - Library of Congress

Emergency Drying Procedures for Water Damaged Collections

Safety Precautions:

* Wear protective, latex gloves and long sleeves.

If mold is present, wear a respirator (N95 HEPA or better). Some mold species are toxic; if any health effects are observed, contact a doctor and/or mycologist. When cleaning items with dry mold, make sure the mold spores are drawn way from you, i.e. by the use of a vacuum cleaner. Wash your hands after handling materials with mold.

Air-drying:

* Use fans to provide maximum air circulation but do not aim fans directly at the drying materials.

Absorb excess moisture using a clean sponge, white paper or bath towels, etc. Do not blot on hand-written ink or fragile surfaces. Do not use printed newsprint for blotting; ink can transfer.

Air-drying Paper Documents, Maps, Posters, etc:

* Paper is very fragile when wet and must be handled with care, provide adequate support.

* Blot excess water off the documents.

* Do not attempt to separate individual items while very wet. You may leave them in stacks no higher than 1/4" to dry.

If pages can be separated safely they can be interleaved using absorbent or separating materials, such as waxed paper. Change interleaving materials until item is dry.

Clean, unrusted window-screens stacked with bricks or wood blocks between them will provide a drying surface with maximum air circulation. If drying items on a hard surface, cover area with absorbent materials and change when wet. When items are almost dry, place them between protective sheets such as unprinted newsprint and put a light weight on them to flatten.

Note: If the item is too wet when placed under weights, you may create a micro-environment for mold.

Air-drying Framed Items:

* Place the frame glass-side down and remove the backing materials.

* Carefully remove object and air-dry.

If the object is stuck to the glass, do not remove; instead dry frame with object inside, glass side down on a flat surface.

Air-drying Books:

* Fan books open and stand on top or bottom edge; never stand them on the front edge.

* Stand books on driest edge first to provide support. As the book dries turn it upside-down to the opposite edge every few hours.

Place a sheet of waxed paper larger than the pages between the front and back cover and adjacent page before standing on edges. Replace the interleaving as it becomes saturated.

When the book is no longer wet, but still cool to the touch, close and place on a solid surface with a slight weight to keep distortion to a minimum. Check frequently to ensure that no mold is growing.

Air-drying Photographic Materials:

* Some historical photographs are very sensitive to water damage and may not be recoverable.

* Most prints, negatives and color slides can be air-dried. The emulsion (picture or image) side should be face up.

* Avoid touching the front surface of wet or damp photographic prints or negatives.

Note: The emulsion side often appears less glossy on negatives and color slides. To speed drying time, dry items on a clothesline using wooden or non-abrasive plastic clothespins. If the photographs or negatives are stuck together or the emulsion is damaged, contact a photographic conservator or your local historical society or museum for advice.

If photographic materials are covered with mud or dirt and are still wet, they may be gently rinsed in a bucket of cold, clean water, or a light stream of cold water, and then dried. Contact a photographic conservator. Do not freeze them unless advised to do so by a conservator.

Recovery of Water-damaged Collections with Mold:

* Active mold looks either fuzzy or slimy.

* Do not attempt to remove active mold.

* Dormant mold is dry and powdery. See safety precautions above for handling mold.

Stop mold outbreaks by improving environmental conditions. Humidity levels should be as low as possible below 50%. Use a dehumidifier. Low temperatures -- below 68 F -- are recommended. Short exposure to sunlight and circulating air outdoors may help to dry moldy items more rapidly.

Note: There may be light damage (fading or discoloration); use this treatment only with materials where some light damage is acceptable.

When the mold has become dormant through drying it can be removed, using a vacuum cleaner and/or a soft brush. After vacuuming, dispose of bag. Clean brushes to prevent spreading the mold spores. Safety precautions are particularly important in this stage.

Water damage to materials may be irreversible. The treatment of items of high monetary, historic or sentimental value should be referred to a conservator if possible. If that is not possible, you may be able to scan the item, and use photo imaging to repair damaged area. Someone skilled in photography and computer imaging may be able to assist you.

To select a professional best qualified to treat your object, contact the referral service maintained by The Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation (FAIC). They will provide you with a list of conservators in your area that can help you find appropriate conservation treatment:

- - - Source: Library of Congress: www.loc.gov/preserv/

Works of Art

When the damage is already done, there is little that the non-specialist can do to clean or repair works of art on paper. Traditional old remedies such as bread crumbs to clean off dirt and commercially produced tapes to repair tears may do more harm than good, unless the alternative to temporary taping is further fragmentation of the separated parts and a serious loss of material. In this latter case, hand the damaged work to a conservator as soon as possible.

If prints and drawings get really wet, for example from a burst pipe, it is better to lay them out separately on blotting paper to dry using a good cool air circulation, rather than use an artificial heat source. In the case of a serious flood or a fire, get help from a conservator as soon as possible.

With professional treatment, the condition of the paper and image can at least be stabilized so that their deterioration won't progress. Most damage can be corrected by a skilled conservator, but remember that faded colors cannot be restored to their original brightness and severe paper staining may only be reduced rather than removed.

- - - Source: Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, London England

Care, Handling and Storage of Books

Proper handling and storage in a stable, cool, clean, non-humid environment, can prolong its life.

For example, the high humidity in an attic or basement can promote mold growth, cockle pages, and attract insects. Extremely low humidity, as found above hot radiators, can dry out leather bindings.

Direct sun-light, with a large ultraviolet (UV) component, will fade leather and cloth. Blue leather fades to dull green and red leather to brown, especially along the spine of the book.

Dust, dirt and grime from handling can adversely effect books as well. Many people shelve their books in closed glass cases away from brightly lit windows or damp exterior walls to minimize the amount of dust and grime that will accumulate.

How we handle and use a book contributes to its longevity. If a book will not lay flat, do not use force it to open further. The covers should always be supported when the book is open. Books with dry flaking leather covers can be wrapped in paper or polyester jackets to keep the fragments and dirt from transferring to hands, adjoining books and the rest of the pages.

In the past, leather books were treated with a leather dressing; however the application of an oil or leather dressing can have an adverse effect and is, therefore, not recommended. See Library of Congress Preservation Directorate handout: "Leather Dressing."

To select the professional best qualified to treat you book, contact the referral service maintained by The Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation (FAIC). They will provide you with a list of professionals in your area that can help you find an appropriate conservator or conservation treatment.

Source: The Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation (FAIC) 1717 K Street, NW, Suite 301 Washington, D.C. 20006 Telephone (202) 452-9545 FAX (202) 452-9328 E-mail: infoaic@aol.com WWW: http://aic.stanford.edu/

Library of Congress Home Page Go to: www.loc.gov/preserv/

* Caring for Your Collections
* Preservation Home Page

Preservation - Library of Congress

Caring for Your Photographic Collections

Preventing Deterioration: Keep photographic materials at proper environmental conditions. Relative humidity is the single most important factor in preserving most photographic materials. Relative humidity levels above 60% will accelerate deterioration. Low and fluctuating humidity may also damage them. Conditions of around 68 F and 30-40% relative humidity are appropriate and easiest to maintain in enclosed areas, such as an interior closet or an air-conditioned room -- not in an attic or basement. High temperatures and high relative humidity levels will accelerate deterioration.

Temperature, not relative humidity, is the controlling factor in the stability of contemporary color photographs. Storage at low temperatures (40F or below) is recommended. Appropriate enclosures for cold storage are available from various vendors.

Exposure to visible and ultraviolet (UV) light is potentially damaging to photographs. Light can cause embrittlement, yellowing and color fading in prints and hand-colored surfaces. Extended display of photographs is not recommended; however if they must be displayed, use UV-filtering plastic or glass in framing. Exposure of color slides to the light in the projector should be kept to a minimum. Use duplicate slides instead.

Atmospheric pollutants, particularly sulfur compounds, will cause black and white images to fade and discolor. Gas by-products given off by fresh paint fumes, plywood, deteriorated cardboard and many cleaning supplies may cause accelerated image deterioration. Storage in non-acidic containers is recommended.

Handling Photographic Materials: If photographs are handled improperly, they can suffer disastrous damage, including tears, cracks, losses, abrasions, fingerprints, and stains. Avoid touching fragile photographic materials; salts in human perspiration may damage surfaces. Wear clean cotton gloves if possible when handling negatives and prints.

Storage of Photographic Materials:

House photos in protective enclosures to keep out gritty dirt and dust which can abrade images, retain moisture, and deposit contaminants. Avoid and/or remove materials such as acidic paper or cardboard, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, rubber bands, paper clips, and pressure-sensitive tapes and rubber cement.

Suitable storage materials should be made of plastic or paper, and free of sulfur, acids, and peroxides. Paper enclosures must be acid-free, lignin-free, and are available in both buffered (alkaline, pH 8.5) and unbuffered (neutral, pH 7) stock. Storage materials must pass the ANSI Photographic Activity Test (PAT) which is noted in supplier's catalogs. Buffered paper enclosures are recommended for brittle prints that have been mounted onto poor-quality secondary mounts and deteriorated film-base negatives. Buffered enclosures are not recommended for contemporary color materials. Paper enclosures are opaque, thus preventing unnecessary light exposure; porous; easy to label in pencil; and relatively inexpensive. Suitable plastic enclosures are uncoated polyester film, uncoated cellulose triacetate, polyethylene, and polypropylene. Note: Photographic emulsions may stick to the slick plastic surface at high relative humidity (RH); the RH must remain below 80% or do not use plastic enclosures. Plastic enclosures must not be used for glass plate, nitrate, or acetate-based negatives.

Prints of historic value should be matted with acid-free rag or museum board for protection. Adhesives should not touch the print. Matting should be done by an experienced framer or under the direction of a trained conservator. See Handout: Guide to Preservation Matting and Framing.

Store all prints and negatives that are matted or placed in paper or plastic enclosures in acid-free boxes. If possible, keep negatives separate from print materials. Store color transparencies/slides in acid-free or metal boxes with a baked-on enamel finish or in polypropylene slide pages. Commonly available PVC slide pages, easily identified by their strong plastic odor, should never be used because of their extreme chemical reactivity.

Place early miniature-cased photographs, including daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes, carefully into acid-free paper envelopes and house flat; keep loose tintypes in polyester sleeves, or, if flaking is present, in paper enclosures.

Storage of family photographs in albums is often desirable, and many commercially available albums utilize archival-quality materials. Avoid albums constructed of highly colored pages. Never use commercially available "magnetic" or "no stick" albums for the storage of contemporary or historic photographic prints in black-and-white or color. These materials will deteriorate quite quickly over time.

Prepared by Debbie Hess Norris, Photographic Conservator and Assistant Director, Art Conservation Program, University of Delaware/Winterthur

[Excerpts of text taken from Caring for Your Collections: Preserving and Protecting Your Art and Other Collectibles, The National Committee to Save America's Cultural Collections; Arthur W. Schultz, Chairman. Published in 1992 by Harry N. Abrams, Incorporated, New York.]

The preservation procedures described here have been used by the Library of Congress in the care of its collections and are considered suitable by the Library as described; however, the Library will not be responsible for damage to your collection should damage result from the use of these procedures. Revised 12/98

The Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation (FAIC)
1717 K Street, NW, Suite 301 Washington, D.C. 20006
Telephone (202) 452-9545 FAX (202) 452-9328
E-mail: infoaic@aol.com
WWW: http://aic.stanford.edu/

The preservation procedures described here have been used by the Library of Congress in the care of its collections and are considered suitable by the Library as described; however, the Library will not be responsible for damage to your collection should damage result from the use of these procedures.

- - -Source: Library of Congress: www.loc.gov/preserv/ Revised 12/1998

Go to:

* Caring for Your Collections
* Preservation Home Page

* Library of Congress Home Page

Storage of Paper Items

It is best to store paper items flat, rather than folding and unfolding, which can lead to creases and tears. Seek the advice of a paper conservator, if any trouble is encountered when unfolding or unrolling an object.

Paper materials may be stored in acid-free alkaline folders, polyester film folders or alkaline mats. Alkaline paper or board provides a desirable neutralizing effect on acidity. The stiffness of the storage folder or box should provide adequate support to the item(s) in storage and transport. Since acidity migrates, acidic storage materials should be avoided, and highly acidic materials, such as newspaper clippings or telegrams should be isolated to avoid acid migration. Polyester film has the benefit of being clear and can also provide support, but is not alkaline. Polyester film can have an electrostatic charge which will cause damage to friable media such as unfixed pastel and charcoal, heavily applied pencil, and flaking media.

Handling paper materials:

Hands should be clean and dry before handling paper items, as the oils from fingers can cause staining on the paper.

Avoid having food or drinks in the area of your collection.

Use pencils when working with your collection, to avoid possible disfigurement from inks.

Damaged Paper Items:

If a paper item becomes damaged, place it in a folder and contact a paper conservator, who can provide the treatment needed.

Avoid using pressure-sensitive tapes (including those called "archival") as they can cause irreversible disfigurement, embrittlement of paper and alteration of inks.

If a flat paper item becomes moldy or wet, isolate it from other materials and dry it with warm circulating air. Contact a paper conservator for further advice.

To select the professional best qualified to treat your object, contact the referral service maintained by The Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation (FAIC). They will provide you with a list of conservators in your area that can help you find an appropriate conservator or conservation treatment:

The Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation (FAIC)
1717 K Street, NW, Suite 301 Washington, D.C. 20006
Telephone (202) 452-9545 FAX (202) 452-9328 E-mail: infoaic@aol.com
WWW: http://aic.stanford.edu/

- - - Source: Library of Congress, Preservation


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