What should I do with a wet/moldy collection item?
Take necessary safety precautions if the water is contaminated with sewage or other hazards or if there is active (wet or furry) mold growth. In some cases, personal protective equipment (e.g., waterproof gloves and boots; coveralls; face masks; respirators) may provide sufficient protection, but when in doubt, do not take unnecessary safety risks.
Set out objects to air dry immediately upon getting wet or discovery of wetness or mold and control the ambient temperature and relative humidity. If newly wet or moldy papers cannot be air dried within two days, prepare and freeze -- see Freezing and Drying Wet Books and Records (Northeast Document Conservation Center). If there are mold stains only, ensure ambient relative humidity stays between 35-55% to prevent regrowth; check items regularly.
- How to Salvage Wet Books [PDF: 186 KB / 4 p] (University of Michigan Library)
- Emergency Salvage of Flood Damaged Family Papers (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration)
- Emergency Guidelines for Art Disasters (moma.org) [PDF: 181 KB / 13 p] (New York Museum of Modern Art)
- Salvage At A Glance, Part II: Non-Paper Based Archival Collections [PDF: 272 KB / 4 p] (National Park Service)
- Emergency Salvage of Wet Photographs (Northeast Document Conservation Center).
Additional Ways to Contact Us
Send written correspondence to:
Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave. SE
Washington, D.C. 20540-4530
We cannot provide: conservation (including review, examination, treatment), digitization/reformatting, access to/use of Library of Congress equipment, project funding, appraisals, recommendations for products or vendors, materials testing or analysis, preservation courses or classes, and/or responses to vendors seeking to sell or promote commercial products.