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Subject: Mold


From: Alan J. Hawk <alan.hawk>
Date: Tuesday, October 3, 2006
See query below.  Ms. Sprochi is not a subscriber

    I am currently the Health Sciences Cataloger at the University
    of Missouri-Columbia Health Sciences Library in Columbia
    Missouri.... [W]e have recently had some mold outbreak problems
    in our rare book room, and I have been doing most of the clean
    up. We have a good procedure in place for the books and they
    have successfully been cleaned and we have gotten the
    environment of our room under control.

    [W]e also have several sets of 19th century surgical
    instruments, the kind in the nice fancy wood boxes with velvet
    linings. We also have some sets which are in leather pouches.
    Unfortunately, some of these also show signs of mold bloom on
    them, both on the exterior wood and on the interior velvet
    linings. Our goal is to try to clean everything as much as
    possible in that room to prevent, as much as one can, another

    My dilemma is, I'm not entirely sure of the right way to go
    about cleaning off the mold without doing damage to the cases or
    instruments. I should add that the instruments themselves could
    probably use a cleaning as well, but I'm reluctant to try
    anything without some guidance. I know enough to not try to
    remove the rust spots, etc, on the instruments; however, they
    could use some kind of mild cleaning or oiling for protection. I
    also need to get the visible mold off the cases without damaging
    the wood or the velvet lining.

    We do have a very nice HEPA vacuum with variable speeds and
    suctions, and I can easily purchase some minor supplies such as
    gun oil for the instruments, if that is recommended. We have
    been treating the worst of the mold on the books with either
    freezing, which I am assuming would not be good for the wood
    cases, or with a light application of 70% isopropyl alcohol. We
    have been using that mostly on the books that have been rebound
    in library buckram, which are also the books, ironically, with
    the worst mold problems. However, I'm not sure if that would
    damage the finish, the wood itself, or the patina on the cases.
    I am hesitant to do anything without some professional advice,
    as I don't want to do more damage.

    If you have any advice you could pass on, or if you are familiar
    with someone I could ask, I would really appreciate it. I
    thought of Walter Reed because I used to work in the history of
    medicine division at NLM, and I know we would usually send
    realia and other non-print materials over to you folks at the
    Museum, so I figured if anyone would have an idea what to do it
    would be you. Thank you so much for your time.

    Amanda Sprochi
    Health Sciences Cataloger
    J. Otto Lottes Health Sciences Library
    University of Missouri-Columbia
    Health Sciences Center
    One Hospital Drive
    Columbia, MO  65212
    sprochia [at] health__missouri__edu

Alan Hawk
Collections Manager, Historical Collections
National Museum of Health and Medicine
Armed Forces Institute of Pathology
Bldg. 54, Walter Reed Army Medical Center
Washington, DC  20306-6000
DSN 662-2205
Fax: 202-782-3573
DSN 662-3573

                  Conservation DistList Instance 20:19
                  Distributed: Monday, October 9, 2006
                       Message Id: cdl-20-19-024
Received on Tuesday, 3 October, 2006

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