These procedures are for drying one or a few wet books, and should be used in the evenings and weekends when the Preservation Department is not staffed. When the Preservation Deparmtent is staffed, bring wet or damp books immediately to the Conservation Lab for drying under controlled conditions. If there is a disaster incident in the library, such that more than a few collection items are, or could be, affected, follow the Disaster Response Instructions for All Staff.


Ensure Your Safety - If there is a possibility that a wet book was contaminated by sewage or dirty water, do not handle it. Wearing plastic gloves, put affected items in a plastic bag, and notify the Preservation Department. It is more important to ensure your own safety than to save a book!

Mold Growth is a concern with wet and damp books and other paper-based materials. Wet and damp books should be dealt with immediately because mold can grow within 24 to 48 hours once materials become wet, or in a warm and very humid environment.

Coated Paper - has a shiny or glossy surface, such as the paper in Newsweek Magazine, as well as in many illustrated books and journals. If coated paper gets wet, and pages then dry together, they usually will be permanently stuck together. When air drying books with coated paper, each page must be interleaved with waxed paper.

Rare Materials - These procedures are not for rare materials, which should be handled by a professional conservator. See the Disaster Plan, Emergency Resources Outside the University of Delaware Library.

Air Drying Procedures

Find a space that is as cool and dry as possible, and with good air circulation. Use fans to keep the air circulating in the drying space.

When a Book is Saturated -

When a Book is Partially Wet -

When a Book is Damp

Final Air Drying Step

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Last modified: March 16, 2009