University Archives

The following salvage treatments are for water damaged materials:


Paper can withstand temperatures of up to 176.5C/350F.
It is preferable to have a professional conservator care for single sheet documents.


Freezing is a good option, even for documents that will be eventually air dried. It allows for more time to estimate costs, make decisions and stabilize materials. It also allows for a more orderly treatment of materials. 4)Archives & Library Disaster Plan

Paper should be frozen at 20F.
Documents do not need to be cleaned, however, dipping them into fungicide to control mould is recommended.

Documents should be wrapped in freezer or waxed paper (waxed side out) and packed carefully in plastic crates. Do not overstock the boxes, yet ensure that items will not fall over and become contorted.

Inventory the documents as they are removed and note contents on the freezer paper. Keep accurate records of the location and identity of box contents. Label each container with the institution's name and assign it a number corresponding to the inventory list.

Freeze the files in the containers they were packed in, rather than removing them from the boxes in the freezing chamber.

If possible, interleave documents so they will emerge from the process flatter.


Decisions regarding which items can be washed must be made by a conservator.


Remove all items from the shelves and examine.

Extract the wettest material from the area first. Remember that materials which appear to be dry may in reality be damp.

Place a sheet of polyester film on top of the wet stack of papers and rub gently. The surface friction will cause the wet paper to adhere to the film. Peel back the top sheet and place it on top of a piece of polyester web.
5)Archives & Library Disaster Plan

Remove the polyester film and place another piece of polyester web on top of the wet sheet and repeat the process. 6)Archives & Library Disaster Plan

Be careful to maintain the identity of individual pieces by laying them out or stacking them in a consistent order. Have box and folder numbers written in pencil on slips of paper and inserted in proper sequence. 7)Archives & Library Disaster Plan

Air dry the sheets (supported by the polyester web) by placing them on absorbent paper, drying racks, or closely spaced monofilament lines. Sheets should be spread out to dry on clean white absorbent paper or unprinted newsprint on table tops. If there is not enough room, then slightly damp sheets can be stacked in groups of 25 pages with interleaving; the stack should be turned over regularly. 8)Archives & Library Disaster Plan

Increase the amount of staff attention to the air drying time. Check for migration of dyes and feathering of inks. A longer drying time will also increase the possibility of mould growth. If mould is detected, follow the instructions below.

The papers may be flattened when they are dry by placing them between two sheets of blotting paper and applying even pressure with weights.


Cover tables with paper towel over plastic sheeting.

Record the documents on a location sheet, and then separate the pages as described above. Be careful to maintain the proper order.

Extremely wet files should be frozen immediately, as they are discovered. Ensure that freezer paper is placed between the files to keep them separate.


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