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Wet Books: Do's and Don'ts

Did your books get wet? Here are some tips from the PAARL yahoogroup:


* open or close books
* separate single sheets
* press water out of wet books - the paper is too fragile when wet
* wipe off mud or dirt
* remove book covers or separate materials
* disturb wet file boxes, prints, drawings or photographs

"Such handling may result in extensive and irreparable damage to materials that otherwise might be salvaged" (Peter Waters)
* stand books on their heads (or use support to keep them standing)
* interleave absorbent paper every 50 pages (toilet/tissue, paper towels, or blotting paper will do; just replace every now and then)
* use fan to keep air circulating, never expose books to dry under the sun
* keep temperature below 65 degrees F (approx. 18 degrees C)
* when completely dry, lay books flat but not stacked together
Books should be sorted out based on the amount of salvage work needed, as well as level of priority. It is generally more efficient to work on the least damaged than on the wettest materials.

If the book is only damp, it can stand upright with covers and pages fanned in a cool, dry place to air dry. Use electric fans to increase air circulation, but fans should not be directly positioned on the books. If the book is wet, it will probably need to be cleaned before being dried. Use either running water or a cycling process with about 4-8 wash basins filled with water for closed books. Don't use a brush; use a sponge to clean. And books should not be rubbed. The water should be doing almost all of the cleaning.

The above guidelines are intended as an initial response to the disaster. More and detailed treatment methods may be required depending on the severity of the damage. When planning the recovery, it's important to keep in mind that often there is no one "best solution"; instead, several different methods may be the answer.

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