Emergency response group attends workshop on materials recovery
Participating in the workshop are (from left) Christine McBride, Pat Young and Brian Kamen.
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6:28 p.m., Feb. 18, 2009----How to treat valuable items damaged by water was the subject of a workshop for members of the Emergency Response Working Group for University Collections and Records (ERWG), held Feb. 6 in the Photograph Conservation Lab in Old College.

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Jae Gutierrez, assistant professor of art conservation at UD, presented the workshop to 10 ERWG members, who learned about the variety of paper and ink types that they may encounter in their collections and how those materials react when exposed to moisture.

Water damage -- whether from flooding, pipe bursts, or leaking ceilings and windows -- represents a potential threat to almost every University collection. Knowing the best methods to recover wet documents, photographs, film, books and other papers can speed reaction after a disaster and preserve important materials.

At the workshop, Gutierrez demonstrated the proper handling of wet papers and offered suggestions for drying or freezing damaged materials to prevent mold growth.

Recovery methods often depend upon the extent of the water damage that materials have sustained. While damp papers simply may be laid flat to dry, fully soaked or floating papers may require a secondary support to move. Books can be dried either flat or standing with pages gently fanned, depending on the amount of water damage and the strength of the volume.

Workshop participants ended the day with an opportunity to make recovery decisions and put their newfound knowledge to work as they recovered several boxes of pre-wet materials from Gutierrez's teaching collection.

This workshop and other training opportunities for emergency response and preparedness are sponsored by the ERWG Education and Training Group. Previously, the group has held workshops on writing emergency plans and putting together economical emergency preparedness kits. There are plans to hold a second session of the Recovery of Wet Collection Materials workshop later in the spring semester.

More information on this and other training opportunities will be posted on the ERWG Web site at [www.udel.edu/ERWG/].

Article by Lisa Gensel
Photos by Duane Perry