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How to Care for Water-Damaged Books

By Harriet Staff

Melville House’s MobyLives offers some first-aid tips for water-damaged books; fortunately, theirs were spared from Hurricane Sandy (though DUMBO neighbor powerHouse Books is still cleaning up). The sources are good: The University of Rochester Library, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, and The Library of Congress all know how to care for your soaked copy of Debt. The basics:

Prop up the books vertically by fanning out the pages to promote air drying of pages. You can also put paper towels between the separated pages.

Books can be placed in a plastic zip lock bag or stacked in a crate spine down and frozen to keep the material stabilized if you need more time to carefully dry the books. Rapid freezing to -15 to -20 degrees is necessary to minimize damage from ice crystals, so be aware that home freezers can’t always achieve this. A food storage freezer is ideal for this method.

If you see signs of mold, be careful to separate these books from others because the mold can spread.

If possible, put the damaged books on a hard, non-absorbent, color-fast surface to prevent moisture from being retained under books and to keep them from sticking.

Don’t put weights on the books, let them dry out first. Once they are almost completely dry, they can be stacked to smooth out wrinkled pages and warped pages.

Use fans to speed up drying. Good ventilation is important to prevent mold.

More information, including the ALA’s disaster fact sheet and bibliography, which offers emergency response hotlines for libraries and cultural institutions, is over at MobyLives.

Posted in Poetry News on Friday, November 2nd, 2012 by Harriet Staff.