Saving the Water-damaged Items from the Flooded Local History Room at the Rockingham Library

Earlier this moth, a water pipe burst in the Local History Room in the Rockingham Library of Bellow’s Falls, Vermont. The following excerpt is from an article in the December 30, 2010 edition of the Vermont Public Radio website. It details conservation efforts taking place to save some of the precious historic documents.

(Host) Earlier this month a burst pipe unleashed a flood of water in the local history room of the Rockingham Restoration & conservation efforts to save documentsLibrary.

Crates of histories and genealogical archives were sent to a restoration company in Illinois. But for a number of damaged documents, help was much closer. A professionally trained paper conservator has a workshop on Main Street in Bellows Falls [Vermont].

VPR’s [Vermont Public Radio’s] Susan Keese has more.

(Keese) The pipe burst on a Sunday. When workers arrived on Monday, the research room was flooded and water was streaming down over the shelves.

The Rockingham librarians acted fast. Within hours 38 crates of bound volumes were loaded onto refrigerator trucks – a precaution against mold — and headed for a facility that specializes in freeze-drying water-damaged documents.

The remaining pieces went to a local business called Works on Paper. The owner, paper conservator Carolyn Frisa, went to work that day on an album of photographs.

(Frisa) “We were able to take them out of the binder right away and lay them out to dry on a special type of cloth. If they hadn’t been caught right away and they had dried in their plastic sleeves there’s a very good chance that the emulsion from the photographs would have stuck to the plastic and been destroyed.”

(Keese) Frisa studied paper conservation in London and pursued her craft at some well-known conservation centers before setting up her own studio in Vermont.

She’s restored priceless historic manuscripts and prints, and letters with just sentimental value.

The photographs from the library are dry, but still need work.

(Frisa) “You can see that they’ve curled and sort of cockled unevenly and some of the ink inscriptions have bled, but they’re still legible.””>a flood of water in the local history room of the Rockingham Library.

Crates of histories and genealogical archives were sent to a restoration company in Illinois. But for a number of damaged documents, help was much closer. A professionally trained paper conservator has a workshop on Main Street in Bellows Falls.

VPR’s Susan Keese has more.

(Keese) The pipe burst on a Sunday. When workers arrived on Monday, the research room was flooded and water was streaming down over the shelves.

The Rockingham librarians acted fast. Within hours 38 crates of bound volumes were loaded onto refrigerator trucks – a precaution against mold — and headed for a facility that specializes in freeze-drying water-damaged documents.

The remaining pieces went to a local business called Works on Paper. The owner, paper conservator Carolyn Frisa, went to work that day on an album of photographs.

(Frisa) “We were able to take them out of the binder right away and lay them out to dry on a special type of cloth. If they hadn’t been caught right away and they had dried in their plastic sleeves there’s a very good chance that the emulsion from the photographs would have stuck to the plastic and been destroyed.”

(Keese) Frisa studied paper conservation in London and pursued her craft at some well-known conservation centers before setting up her own studio in Vermont.

She’s restored priceless historic manuscripts and prints, and letters with just sentimental value.

The photographs from the library are dry, but still need work.

(Frisa) “You can see that they’ve curled and sort of cockled unevenly and some of the ink inscriptions have bled, but they’re still legible.”

Read the full article.

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