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Salvaging Some Common Materials

 * See Salvage Glossary below for definition of different methods.

Material Priority Handling Precautions Packing Method Drying Method
Books
Books & pamphlets Freeze or dry within 48 hours. Do not open or close, do not separate covers. Separate with freezer paper, pack spine down in milk crate or cardboard box 1 layer deep. Air, vacuum, or freeze dry.
Leather & vellum bindings Immediately dry; or freeze if many books. Do not open or close, do not separate covers. Separate with freezer paper, pack spine down in milk crate or cardboard box 1 layer deep. Air dry.
Books & periodicals with coated papers Immediately freeze or dry. Do not open or close, do not separate covers. Keep wet; pack spine down in containers lined with garbage bags. Freeze drying preferred. Air dry by fanning pages and interleaving.
Black & White Prints
Albumen prints Freeze or dry within 48 hours. Do not touch binder with bare hands. Interleave between groups of photographs. Air dry; thaw & air dry.
Matte & glossy collodion prints Freeze or dry within 48 hours. Avoid abrasion. Do not touch binder with bare hands.   Air dry; thaw & air dry; or freeze dry.
Silver gelatin printing out & developing out papers Freeze or dry within 48 hours. Do not touch emulsion with bare hands. Keep wet. Pack in plastic bags inside boxes. Order of preference:
1) Air dry, 2) thaw and air dry, 3) freeze dry.
Do not vacuum dry.
Carbon prints & Woodburytypes Immediately freeze or dry. Handle carefully - swelling of binder. Horizontally. Air dry or thaw & air dry.
Photomechanical prints
(i.e., collotypes, photogravures)
Cyanotypes
Freeze or dry within 48 hours. Do not separate single sheets. Interleave every 2" and pack in boxes or crates. Air dry or freeze dry.
Color Photographs
Dye transfer prints Package to prevent damage - recovery rate is poor. Immediately dry. Do not touch emulsion. Transport horizontally. Air dry face up.
Chromogenic prints & negatives Freeze or dry within 48 hours. Do not touch binder with bare hands. Keep wet. Pack in plastic bags inside boxes. Order of preference:
1) Air dry, 2) thaw & air dry, 3) freeze dry.
Do not vacuum dry.
Color Transparencies
Additive color transparencies (most are glass)
Autochromes, Agfacolor, Dufaycolor
Package to prevent damage - recovery rate is very poor.
Immediately dry.
Handle with care - loose binding tapes & glass. Horizontally in a padded container. Air dry. Never Freeze
Chromogenic color transparencies
Mounted color slides & sheet films
Freeze or dry within 48 hours. Handle by mounts or edges. Keep wet. Pack in plastic bags inside box. Order of preference:
1) Air dry in mounts if possible, 2) thaw & air dry, 3) freeze dry.
Do not vacuum dry.
Cased Photographs
Ambrotypes
Pannotypes
Recovery rate is low.
Immediately dry.
Handle with care - glass supports & extremely fragile binder. Horizontally in a padded container. Air dry face up. Never freeze.
Daguerreotypes Immediately dry. Handle with care - fragile surface, cover glass. Horizontally in a padded container. Air dry face up.
Never freeze.
Tintypes Immediately dry. Handle with care - fragile binder. Horizontally. Air dry. Never freeze.
Computer Media
Tapes Immediately rinse off tapes soaked by dirty water. Dry within 48 hours if paper boxes & labels; otherwise, tapes can stay wet for several days.
Do not freeze.
Do not touch magnetic media with bare hands.
Handle open reel tapes by hubs or reel.
Keep tapes wet in plastic bags.
Pack vertically in plastic crate or tub.
Air dry or test vacuum drying without heat.
Floppy Disks Immediately pack.
Do not freeze.
Do not touch disk surface with bare hands. Keep wet. Pack vertically in plastic bags or tubs of cold water. Air dry.
Compact Discs & CD ROMs
  Immediately dry discs.
Dry paper enclosures within 48 hours.
Do not scratch the surface. Pack vertically in crates or cardboard cartons. Air dry.
Maps & Plans
Stable media Freeze or dry within 48 hours. Use extra caution if folded or rolled. Pack in map drawers, bread trays, flat boxes, on heavy cardboard or poly covered plywood. Air or freeze dry.
Soluble media
Maps & plans by photoreproductive processes
Hand colored maps
Immediately freeze or dry. Do not blot. Interleave between folders and pack as above. Air or freeze dry.
Drafting linens Immediately freeze or dry. Avoid pressure - inks can smear away. Pack like maps in containers lined with plastic. Air or freeze dry. Air dry by separating sheets and interleaving.
Maps on coated papers Immediately freeze or dry.   Pack like maps in containers lined with plastic. Freeze drying preferred.
Microforms
Microfilm rolls Rewash & dry within 48 hours. Do not remove from boxes; hold carton together with rubber bands. Keep wet. Pack (in blocks of 5) in a cardboard box lined with garbage bags. Arrange with a microfilm processor to rewash and dry.
Aperture cards Freeze or dry within 48 hours.   Keep wet. Pack in plastic bags inside boxes. Air dry, or thaw & air dry.
Jacketed microfilm Freeze or dry within 48 hours.   Keep wet. Pack in plastic bags inside pail or box. Air dry, or freeze, thaw and air dry.
Diazo & vesicular microfiche Freeze or dry within 48 hours.   Interleave between envelopes & pack in milk crates or cartons. Air dry, or freeze, thaw & air dry.
Motion Pictures
  Rewash & dry within 48 hours.   Keep wet. Pack in plastic pails or cardboard cartons lined with garbage bags. Arrange with a film processor to rewash & dry.
Negatives
Wet collodion glass plates Recovery rate is low.
Immediately dry.
Handle with care - glass supports and fragile binder. Horizontally in a padded container. Air dry face up.
Never freeze.
Gelatin dry plate glass negatives Freeze or dry within 48 hours. Handle with care - glass. Keep wet. Pack in plastic bags, vertically in a padded container. Air drying preferred; or thaw & air dry; freeze dry.
Deteriorated nitrates with soluble binders Immediately freeze or dry.
Recovery rate may be low.
Do not blot. Horizontally. Air dry; thaw & air dry; test freeze drying.
Deteriorated acetates Immediately freeze or dry.
Recovery rate is low.
Handle carefully - swelling of emulsion. Horizontally. Air dry; thaw & air dry; test freeze drying.
Polyester based film, nitrates & acetates in good condition Freeze or dry within 48 hours. Do not touch emulsion with bare hands. Keep wet. Pack in small plastic bags inside boxes. Order of preference:
1) Air dry, 2) thaw & air dry, 3) freeze dry.
Do not vacuum dry.
Paper Documents & Manuscripts
Stable media Freeze or dry within 48 hours. Don't separate single sheets. Interleave between folders & pack in milk crates or cartons. Air, vacuum, or freeze dry.
Soluble inks
(felt pens, colored pens, ball point pens)
Immediately freeze or dry. Do not blot. Interleave between folders & pack in milk crates or cartons. Air or freeze dry.
Parchment & Vellum Manuscripts
  Immediately freeze or dry.   Interleave between folders. Pack oversize materials flat. Air or freeze dry. Do not freeze dry gilded or illuminated manuscripts.
Paintings
  Immediately dry. Drain and carry horizontally. Face up without touching paint layer Air dry. See Instructions.
Sound and Video Recordings
Sound & Videotapes Immediately rinse off tapes soaked by dirty water.
Dry within 48 hours if paper boxes and labels; otherwise, tapes can stay wet for several days.
Do not freeze.
Do not touch magnetic media with bare hands. Keep tapes wet in plastic bags.
Pack vertically in plastic crate or tub.
Air dry or test vacuum drying without heat.
Shellac & Acetate Discs Immediately dry.
Dry enclosures within 48 hours.
Discs are very fragile.
Hold discs by their edges.
Avoid shocks.
Pack vertically in ethafoam-padded crates. Air dry, preferably with a record cleaning machine.
Vinyl Discs Dry within 48 hours.
Freezing is untested; if it is necessary, freeze at above -18° C (0° F).
Freeze or dry enclosures within 48 hours.
Hold discs by their edges.
Avoid shocks.
Pack vertically in ethafoam-padded crates. Air dry, preferably with a record cleaning machine.
Transparencies
Lantern slides, silver gelatin Freeze or dry within 48 hours. Handle with care - loose binding tapes & glass. Vertically in a padded container. Air drying preferred; thaw, & air dry.
Works of Art on Paper
Prints & drawings with stable media Freeze or dry within 48 hours. Don't separate single sheets. Interleave between folders & pack in milk crates or cartons. Air, vacuum, or freeze dry.
Oversize prints & drawings Freeze or dry within 48 hours. Use extra caution if folded or rolled. Pack in map drawers, bread trays, flat boxes, on heavy cardboard or poly covered plywood. Damp - air or freeze dry.
Wet - freeze drying preferred.
Framed prints & drawings Freeze or dry within 48 hours. Handle with care - glass. Unframe if possible, then pack as above. Once unframed & unmatted, air or freeze dry.
Soluble Media
Watercolors, soluble inks, & hand colored prints
Immediately freeze or dry. Do not blot. Interleave between folders & pack in milk crates or cartons. Air or freeze dry.
Coated papers
(i.e., posters)
Immediately freeze or dry.   Keep wet in containers lined with garbage bags.

Freeze drying preferred. Air dry by separating pages & interleaving.


SALVAGE GLOSSARY

Air-Drying. Use a cool, low-humidity area with good air circulation. Place absorbent material (see interleaving) under objects; replace it when wet. If possible, air dry material on plastic racks (commercial bread trays or rust-proof screens) to increase evaporation. Exposure to light may reduce threat of mold, but prolonged sunlight can cause fading.

Interleaving. Use blotter paper, uninked newsprint, paper towels, or waxed or freezer paper to keep items from sticking together and prevent dye transfer or running.

Freezing. If objects cannot be dried within 48 hours, freeze them until action can be taken. Freezing stabilizes collections for months; it stops mold growth, ink running, dye transfer and swelling. A sub-zero commercial freezer is best, but a home freezer works. A refrigerated truck keeps materials cool enough to slow mold growth.

On-Site Dehumidification. Super-dry air is pumped into the building and moist air drawn out. A useful method for damp library and archival collections in place; may be used in modern buildings to dry carpeting, wallboard and furnishings. Do not use for historic structures of wood or plaster or most museum collections.

Rinsing. Rinse dirty or muddy items under a gentle stream of clean running water or gently agitate in containers filled with water. Do not scrub; it drives dirt in deeper. Use a sponge/soft cloth to blot off mud and debris.

Vacuum Drying. Also called "thermal drying." Items are dried in a vacuum chamber, often at temperatures above 100° F. Caution: this method accelerates aging and causes damage to many materials: animal skins (leather, vellum), film media. Widely available; slower than vacuum freeze-drying, but less expensive.

Vacuum Freeze-Drying. Items are dried in a vacuum chamber at below-freezing temperatures to minimize swelling and distortion. Generally provides the most satisfactory results; recommended for historic collecting materials and glossy papers. A commercial service available throughout the U.S.
 

 

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