Museum Handbook: Primer on Disaster Preparedness
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Weather is often the critical factor in determining what course of action to take after any flood or fire in which archive and library materials are damaged. When it is hot and humid, salvage must be initiated with a minimum of delay to prevent or control the growth of mold. When the weather is cold, more time may be taken to plan salvage operations and experiment with various reclamation procedures.

The first step is to establish the nature and degree of damage. Once an assessment of the damage has been made, firm plans and priorities for salvage can be drawn up. These plans should include a determination of the special facilities, equipment and personnel required.

Overcautious, unrealistic, or inadequate appraisals of damage can result in the loss of valuable materials as well as confusion during all phases of the recovery operation. Speed is of the utmost importance, but not at the expense of careful planning which must be aimed at carrying out the most appropriate, safe and efficient salvage procedure within the circumstances prevail ing. An efficient record keeping system is a must. Inventory of call numbers, shelf location and packing box numbers will help make the task of receiving collections returned after drying so that their original shelf locations can be identified, as efficient as possible.

Maintaining a detailed photographic and written record of all stages in the recovery operation is an essential, but often overlooked task which will aid the process of insurance claims and demonstrate the condition of the material before it is frozen and dried. We have found that on receiving materials back from a drying process, some administrators are shocked by the appearance of distorted material, believing perhaps that the condition should be much better, or be somewhat restored! The photographic record can be a very helpful reminder that distortion is mostly the result of the initial water damage and not necessarily the result of the drying process. The photographic record should provide key evidence for the reasons and nature of additional damage resulting from any part of the recovery process.