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Subject: Flood damage in the Czech Republic

Flood damage in the Czech Republic

From: Stuart Macdonald Welch <info>
Date: Thursday, August 29, 2002
Randolph Stilson <dr_cpr_llc1 [at] juno__com> writes

>    ... Mrs. Draserova has asked us to broadcast a call for
>    techniques and/or new technologies that could be used in this
>    process. What is currently available here is too slow and energy
>    demanding. Please spread the word about this to all your
>    contacts in the Library Science and Archival Science fields.
>    Replies in English can be sent to our email address. We will
>    translate and forward all replies at once.

While on holiday in Italy I heard about the floods in the Czech
Republic and immediately rang the Mr Jiri Vnoucek the Head of
Conservation at the National Library to see if he knew about the
system for drying wet books I have developed at Conservation By
Design. He said that he did not so I explained it briefly and asked
him to look at our web site where a full description of the
technique can be found.  He did this and asked me to put together a
proposal regarding costs.

Jiri then had a meeting with the British Council who were amongst
the first to offer assistance. Following that meeting the British
Council purchased for the National Library 3 of our machines and a
large quantity of our vacuum drying bags to get the recovery
operation started. Conservation by Design Limited will fund myself
and four specialist book conservators to visit Prague to help set up
the system and train local conservators how to get the best use from
the machinery. They are Dr Nicholas Hadgraft, Cheryl Porter, Nancy
Bell and Katerina Powell who is a Czech conservator working with
Nancy Bell at the Oxford Conservation Consortium. All are
experienced in using the system and will be in Prague from the 18th
till the 22nd of September.

If Mrs Draserova would find it helpful to meet our party she could
contact us through Mr Jiri Vnoucek at the National Library or Mr
Paul Docherty the Director of the British Council in Prague.

Our system operates quite simply by placing a wet book into a vacuum
bag alongside a quantity of dry absorbant  blotting paper or
newsprint then sealing it without oxygen using a vacuum packing
machine. The water transfers into the dry material until it reaches
equilibrium with the wet book. The bag can then be opened, the wet
blotter removed and replaced by more dry blotter and the bag
re-sealed. This process is repeated until the book is dry.  This
method helps prevent the book from distorting and prevents mould
growth even coated art paper which normally block together can be
recovered if it is not allowed to dry in the air before being vacuum
packed.  Since our system works equally as well with frozen material
the books and documents in Prague have been frozen to prevent them
going mouldy until they can be placed in our vacuum bags for drying.

This method can also be used in reverse for humidification,
flattening and removing backings.

This system gives the conservator control throughout the drying
process and has been found a serious alternative to freeze drying
particularly for rare books and coated paper books.

Further information can be found at

The scale of destruction is enormous with estimates of up to a
million wet books plus massive amounts of archive material and
photographs to deal with.

We hope that our system will be used to recover many items that
might otherwise have been lost.

Stuart M Welch
Managing Director
Conservation By Design Limited
5 Singer Way
Woburn Road Ind Estate
Bedford MK42 7AW
Great Britain
+44 1234 853555
Fax: +44 1234 852334

                  Conservation DistList Instance 16:16
                  Distributed: Friday, August 30, 2002
                       Message Id: cdl-16-16-003
Received on Thursday, 29 August, 2002

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