How to salvage water damaged photos, manuals etc
Hi All, I have reposted this from the Old Machinery Magazine forum with consent of the original author. Please note these links are intended as a starting point for those with damaged photos and documents. The important part is not to just throw things out and not to let them dry out.
Recovering flood affected manuals and photos, etc.
I found a video of flooding at Lake Goldsmith engine sheds today [January 16, 2011]. This got me thinking that restorers and collectors in Qld, Vic, NSW and Tas. would have flood affected manuals, photos etc.
As a vintage vehicle and antique machinery collector and restorer and also a professional archivist with some experience in recovering flood damaged materials the message for collectors with photos, old manuals etc. that have been water affected is that ALL maybe is not lost.
I realise that not everyone can quickly get to their collectables because of personal matters taking priority in the aftermath of a flood and because access to some areas will be difficult – however if you know anyone who can get to their water affected paper-based collectables or you are helping them recover items PLEASE suggest that they don't just toss out paper-based items - some items can be salvaged, and some may be salvaged without great expense.
Rather than me going into recovery details here I suggest that the help and advice available at local and state archives and libraries, and elsewhere on the internet be used:
How do I salvage flood-damaged records? (National Archives of Australia)
Salvaging water-damaged collections (State Library of Queensland - PDF document, 65KB)
Conservation Tip No. 6: Dealing with wet records. (State Records NSW)
Salvage At A Glance, Part I: Paper Based Collections
Health And Safety Hazards Arising From Floods
Emergency Drying Procedures for Water Damaged Collections.
TO GET STARTED, as speed in stabilising and conserving paper items is VIP you could try -
1. Take precautions against breathing mould
2. Assess what's important to keep/save and what's not
3. Stabilise and store what is to be saved in a cool/cold place
4. Store flat where possible, but keep weight on wet items minimised
5. Try storing and transporting in plastic tubs or sleeves (even freezer bags) until you or someone else can clean, stabilise, repair or copy – at least take digital photos of vital information
6. Do all this ASAP
7. Check out the online advice on recovering flood damaged archives and then decide on the action/s you'll take for you most precious collectables
8. Get help/advice from archivists, librarians, conservators - ask at your local museums, libraries and galleries – ring them!
9. Start conserving items ASAP as best you can following the procedures in the online information or from the archivists you’ve contacted, and in an order of priority based on importance of the item, value and degree of damage.
10. For seriously valuable items contact a professional conservator urgently and negotiate with them for restoration work.
When my home was flooded I salvaged some notebooks by using the microwave – this is definitely not recommended for every item but was a quick fix that stabilised some papers. Remove staples and metal clips, lightly dry with paper towel and gently give the item a quick microsecond zap in the microwave, page by page, checking carefully between microwaving - slow but it works for some papers BUT remember only very quick and gently microwaving.
Good luck to all in their flood recovery efforts.
Disclaimer: The author of the above information is not liable for any loss or damage resulting from use or
misuse of the information. You should exercise your own independent skill and judgement before you rely on
the above information. You should seek professional advice relevant to your own circumstances.
I hope that this is useful to someone looking to retrieve damaged photos.