Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Minor Disaster Mitigation in Paddock

We are fortunate at Dartmouth to be without many disasters in the library.  So, naturally, the weekend before our holiday break on the coldest day (so far) this winter, a pipe burst in the HOP and the resulting flood accumulated in the basement; the location of the Paddock Music Library.  Preservation and Facilities staff were informed immediately, and the Facilities staff quickly mitigated the water damage to the walls, floors, and ceilings.  The following Monday morning, myself and the department head went over to assess the damage to the collection.

What we discovered was only one cabinet of CDs had been affected by the leak.  Water levels were different in each drawer of the cabinet, leaving some CDs completely soaked and others damp from the ambient moisture.  We packed collapsible crates with all the CDs from the cabinet and brought them back to the lab to dry out.

Back at the lab, after some brief research on CD salvage ( at a glance.pdf for a very abbreviated explanation) and gleaning information from our own disaster plan, I opened each CD case and popped the disc and paper pamphlet out, propping each CD case up to let the air fully circulate.  I saw this demonstrated in a video about an unfortunate disaster after Hurricane Sandy that affected a lot of different media at a facility in New York City.  The short video can be seen here:

Drying the CDs out on our tables in Preservation.

Because the water that leaked in to Paddock was clean, (phew!) rinsing each of the CDs in distilled water was unnecessary.  Jones Media Center was kind enough to lend us some cloths to dry the very wet items that they use on their DVD collection.

To keep track of what could easily become chaos, our department head, Jenny, scanned the items that were in the lab to be able to keep track of numbers.  We had over 900 items to dry!  Due to table space constraints, it took two rounds of lining up the CDs as pictured to fully dry every item.  The truly unfortunate paper components which were too soaked to pull the pages apart went in to the freezer.
Soaked items placed in the freezer to dry out without getting moldy.
Jenny scans in all the items.
As I put each of the CD cases back together and popped the disc in, I sorted them in to crates labeled "OK" and "Not OK," for lack of creativity.  "Not OK" was only two crates (a little over 200 items) and returned to Paddock to be assessed by the music librarian for replacement.  The remainder of the dried items were "OK" and have returned to their home in Paddock, which is once again dry thanks to Facilities staff.
"Not OK" wet/damaged CDs
With some coordinated team effort, a minor disaster is just that; minor.  Our Disaster Manual in the lab illustrates all the steps needed to mitigate any kind of disaster in the library, because events like this are stressful and the damage can seem irreparable-which isn't true!  The change of pace for a short-term project like this reminds me how the library is more kinetic than we realize and that anything can happen.  As a bonus, I also had the opportunity to familiarize myself with Czech hip hop and traditional Cree songs and will no doubt find myself in Paddock more often to explore its vast collection.

Written by Lizzie Curran

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