Disaster Relief: Drying Books and Family Papers
- Dry books and papers slowly.
- If books and papers are damp, sprinkle cornstarch or talcum powder between pages to absorb moisture. Leave powder on for several hours, and then brush off.
- Place books with water damage on end with pages separated.
- When pages are partially dry, pile and press books to keep pages from crumpling.
- Alternate drying and pressing until books are thoroughly dry. This helps prevent mildew. Use a fan to hasten drying.
- When books are nearly dry, apply low heat with an electric iron. Separate the pages to prevent musty odors. This is a tedious process that you may want to use only with valuable books.
- Some chemicals, such as parachlorobenzene, may help stop mold growth. Place books in closed containers with moth crystals to help stop mold growth. Contact your county Extension office for recommendations.
- When books are thoroughly dry, close them and use C-clamps to help hold their shape.
- You can freeze books and papers until you have time to work with them. Freezing effectively controls mold growth.
- Even if books and papers appear to have dried successfully, they may disintegrate because of materials in the floodwater. As a precautionary measure, photocopy important documents or papers, or keep them in a safe deposit box.
- An excellent source of information is "Procedures for Salvage of Water-Damaged Library Materials" by the Library of Congress, available at your local library.
Information Sheet 1926
Reviewed by Dr. David Buys, Assistant Extension/Research Professor, Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion. From The Disaster Handbook - 1998 National Edition, University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences SP 2431.