DISPOSITION OF REMAINING MATERIALS AND CLEANING OF WATER
If the wettest materials were removed first the drier material will usually be above the first four or five shelves and packed closely together. On no account should this third category be separated or spaced out during the earlier salvage efforts. Closely packed materials will not readily develop mold internally.
However, since these will have been in a very humid atmosphere for, maybe several days, it is likely that some mold will have developed on the outer edges of bindings and boxes. This is less like to occur if, during the evacuation of the wettest materials every effort had been made to reduce temperatures and humidity levels and establish a good air flow.
There may be books and box files in such good condition that they need not be sent to freezing facilities but can be dried in ambient conditions. On no account however should the drying be attempted in the location in which they were found because the environment will be totally unsuitable. They should instead be removed to a controlled environment while shelves, wall, floors, and ceilings are sterilized and necessary maintenance work is being done to return the site to its normal condition. If moved, materials should be stacked with air spaces between them provided that the drying area has a good circulation of air, together with airconditioning and dehumidification. If air-conditioning is not available, fans and dehumidifiers should be used to keep air moving and to extract moisture from the area. The relative humidity of a drying area is no guide to the actual moisture content of cellulose materials. The normal water content of paper is between 5 and 7 percent by weight. Materials which feel relatively dry to the touch as they come out of a humid, flood-damaged area, may actually contain moisture from above 10 to 20 percent.
Heat is one of the best means of drying, but since it increases the risk of mold development on humid books and documents, it should be used only if a good circulation of air and dehumidification can be established. Hygrothermographs for recording temperature and relative humidity should be installed to monitor the general area, and moisture-content meters used to measure the moisture in the materials themselves.