Librarians started work on February 16, 2011 only to discover a major leak flowing from the ceiling of the Carrier Library’s special collections room, which contains historical documents, manuscripts and archived records, along with other special collections. Although the cause of the leak is still unknown, librarians were able to salvage or preserve all of the water-damaged documents from the Virginia library.
A Prepared Disaster Plan
Ralph Alberico, dean of the libraries, told the “The Breeze” in an interview: “We immediately implemented our disaster plan. It goes into great detail about how to respond to these types of disasters.”
The library’s disaster plan included removing all the materials from the special collections room and laying out plastic tarps in an effort to prevent further water damage. A different room of the library was then used to keep the materials in until the completion of the water damage restoration process.
One of the preparation plans that helped save some of the historical documents is their placement in special acid-free containers called phase boxes.
Library staff took the wet documents to the old Rockingham Memorial Hospital, now North Campus, and placed them in an industrial freezer. Alberico stated, “The way to treat water damaged archived materials is to immediately freeze them to prevent mold from happening.” However, the frozen documents must be unfrozen in a controlled environment.
A Better Option for Restoring Historical Documents
Polygon has the most sophisticated document restoration technology of its kind in the U.S. in the form of a vacuum freeze dryer. The new vacuum freeze dryer has a capacity of up to 2,000-cubic-feet per month, a controlled drying and monitoring system to prevent over-drying and the ability to restore water damaged books and documents without any distortion or warping.
When books and documents fall victim to water damage, the recovery process involves blast freezing the items to preserve them. The new technology in the Polygon’s vacuum freeze dryer does not allow the ice in that paper to melt. Instead, the ice turns into a gas via the manipulation of pressure and temperatures within the chamber. This system is great for libraries who seek to preserve wet documents and rare books in order to prevent further damage and mold growth.
Learn more about water damage book restoration.
[photo: Taber Andrew Dain]