Museum Handbook: Primer on Disaster Preparedness
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Salvage operations must be planned so that the environment of water damaged areas can be stabilized and controlled both before and during the removal of the materials. In warm, humid weather, mold growth may be expected to appear in a water-damaged area within 48 hours. In any weather, mold can be expected to appear within 48 hours in poorly ventilated areas made warm and humid by recent fire in adjacent parts of the building. For this reason, every effort should be made to reduce high humidities and temper atures and vent the areas as soon as the water has receded or been pumped out. Water-soaked materials must be kept as cool as possible by every means available and be provided with good air circulation until they can be stabilized. To leave such materials more than 48 hours in temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity above 60 percent without good air circulation will almost certainly result in heavy mold growth and lead to high recovery and restoration costs.

Damaged most by these conditions are volumes printed on coated stock and such highly proteinaceous materials as leather and vellum bindings. Starch-impregnated cloths, glues, adhesives, and starch pastes are affected to a somewhat lesser degree. As long as books are tightly shelved, mold may develop only on the outer edges of the bindings. Thus no attempt should be made, in these conditions, to separate books and fan them open.

As a general rule, damp books located in warm and humid areas without ventilation will be subject to rapid mold growth. As they begin to dry, both the bindings and the edges of books will be quickly attacked by mold. Archival files which have not been disturbed will not be attacked so quickly by mold. A different problem exists for damp books printed on coated stock, since if they are allowed to begin to dry out in this condition, the leaves will quickly become permanently fused together.